Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
The Landscapes of Transatlantic Contacts and Slavery at Peki in Eastern Ghana, 1600-1900 A.D.

This project draws on perspectives from landscapes, memory, and materiality to explore the glocal entanglements of the Peki and neighboring polities of the eastern Volta Basin during the transatlantic trade. Historians suggest that by the latter half of the 19th century the Eastern Volta basin of Ghana, including Peki, was the largest transportation route for enslaved people from the northern territories to European trading ports on the coast. Peki was also the first community where German missionaries settled in 1847 to begin proselytization of the Ewe hinterland. What are the tangible landmarks, landscapes, legacies, artefactual evidence, and non-tangible memories and identities that attest to Atlantic contacts and slavery in Peki? How has transatlantic activities impacted economic, political, and sociocultural transformations in Peki. Under the rubrics of historical archaeology, the project will use written historical/archival documents, oral traditions, ethnography, and archaeological data to document and interpret the material vestiges and landscapes that were constructed through Peki's Atlantic encounters—encounters that continued even after British abolition of slavery in 1807. Such information is vital if we are to generate independent evidence to critique, complement or expand current understanding of Peki's Atlantic past, and begin to 'make alternative histories' that foregrounds or incorporates the voices of indigenous communities. The project will contribute significantly to knowledge of the diverse responses of interior African polities to the transatlantic trade, especially in the poorly studied forested interior. It will provide better understanding of Peki culture history and how they responded to the threats, depredations, challenges, and opportunities of the Atlantic trade. In doing so, it will provide data to historicize and explore theories and concepts of landscape, memory and memorialization, resistance, and materiality from an African context.