Ritual Histories of Ghana's Slave Forts and Castles, 1482-2022

Given the monumental significance of Ghana's slave forts and castles during the rise of the Atlantic slave trade, they remain surprisingly understudied. Apart from Elmina and Cape Coast “Castles” and Fort Christiansbourg in Accra, the lesser forts along West Africa's historic Gold Coast are overlooked and even neglected as landmarks of “the African trade.” Our goal is to conduct a systematic survey that locates these forts within Afro-European “conjunctures” that linked hinterland captives to overseas markets. Partnering with students and faculty from the University of Ghana, Legon, and the University of Cape Coast, we will conduct archival research, excavations, and collect oral histories and ethnographic data on shrines, rituals, deities and dungeons associated with these monumental sites of human commodification. By studying these sites of Atlantic slavery in Ghana we highlight the African parameters of early modern capitalism and rethink the standard narrative of its historical development.

Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2019