The Peki in the Atlantic World: Landscapes, Power, and Identities of Slavery in West Africa


ACLS Fellowship Program




“The Peki in the Atlantic World” uses archaeological, historical, and ethnographic data from Peki, a frontier Ewe community in southeastern Ghana, to explore the landscapes, memories, and materialities of European slavery and colonization in West Africa. In the mid-nineteenth century, Peki led a pan-Ewe confederacy out of a century of domination by the Akwamu and Asante states, who controlled the Atlantic slave trade on the Gold Coast. To consolidate their power, the Peki invited German Missionaries to their community in 1847, intending to use them to gain direct access to European merchants on the coast. They then established a franchise of the influential Dente deity at Peki— a major source of the community’s religious, political, and economic power at the height of post-abolition slavery under British eyes. The original Dente shrine at Krachi, about 300km north of Peki, had controlled the Atlantic slave trade until it was destroyed by German colonial officials in 1894. The project draws on data from Peki and other African interiors, as well as comparative data from colonized landscapes in the Americas, to understand the complexities of Indigenous states’ responses to European slavery and capitalist expansion on a global scale.