Africa

A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution

By the time the “Scramble for Africa” among European colonial powers began in the late nineteenth century, Africa had already been globally connected for centuries. Its gold had fueled the economies of Europe and the Islamic world for nearly a millennium, and the sophisticated kingdoms spanning its west coast had traded with Europeans since the fifteenth century. Until at least 1650, this was a trade of equals, using a variety of currencies–most importantly, cowrie shells imported from the Maldives and┬ánzimbu shells imported from Brazil. […Learn More]