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Areas of Research:

Linkages between the Diaspora and Africa

The social and cultural heritage of Africans in the Americas under slavery and emancipation and the on-going linkages across and around the Atlantic are the subject of this area of research. In examining such topics as music, food, material culture, and religion (bori, vodun or voodoo, santeria, candomblé), we will attempt to place empirical data in historical context. Methodologically, the data collection will be directed at overcoming the basic weakness of much of the scholarship on African "survivals", which has tended to be a historical and generalized. Also under examination will be the activities of former slaves who returned to the Nigerian hinterland; the role of black seamen, black soldiers, and black missionaries in the maintenance of communication across the Atlantic and hence in the definition and redefinition of identities. Topics that will be subject to research include: the return of liberated slaves, both from Sierra Leone and elsewhere; the post-abolition movement of individuals between Africa and the Americas; the role of the pilgrimage within the Muslim diaspora. Did the Atlantic serve as a barrier or was the horrible "middle passage" simply a "crossing" that impeded in some ways but perhaps facilitated the movement of culture in other ways and in both directions? We will address these issues through an analysis of the appropriate digitized databases (i.e. voyage database, etc.), archival research and the use of data collected under the biography project.

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Department of History, York University,  Toronto, Canada
Email: nigerian@yorku.ca
Fax: (416) 650-8173