African Sovereignty in the British Atlantic World, 1580-1807


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships




This project uses the methodologies of history, literary criticism, and visual studies to illuminate an understudied, yet critical aspect of the British slave trade--that it involved ongoing negotiations with West African rulers who held considerable power over the trade. Little has been written about these royal Africans, yet African authority posed immediate and ideological challenges for Britons, British Americans, and African Americans over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The project, which takes the form of a series of encounters and explores the material and visual practices of storytelling as part of those encounters, reveals the intensely complex position of African structures of power within early modern British and African American colonization projects.