Defining Sovereignty along a West African Frontier: Environment, Society, and the Creation of the Senegal–Guinea Border, 1850–1925


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation examines pre-colonial and colonial political upheaval and transformation along a West African corridor that today extends across Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Guinea. The study charts three shifts in sovereignty between 1850 and 1925 (lineage-based, alliance-based, colonial) and examines rural communities’ continued resistance to state annexation. This research shows that communities resisted state authority by leveraging competing politics, existing trade networks, and their environmental location. In doing so they established their locale as a political frontier, thus defining the territorial limits of pre-colonial and colonial sovereignty and shaping what would become the borders between Senegal, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau.