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IBERDA, Université Nationale du Bénin


        Since the late 1960s, Professor Soumonni has been teaching and conducting research in West Africa, first at the University of Ile-Ife (now Awolowo University), where he received his Ph.D., then at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, and since 1984 at the Université Nationale du Bénin in Cotonou. He currently is Coordinator of Institut Béninois d'études et de recherche sur la diaspora africaine (IBERDA). In 1997/98 Professor Soumonni was a Fulbright Research Scholar at Emory University, Atlanta. He currently holds a Leverhulme Trust Visiting Fellowship at the University of Hull (U.K.), where he is collaborating with Professor David Richardson on a variety of projects associated with the Nigerian Hinterland Project. He is a member of the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO "Slave Route" Project, and he sits on the Steering Committee of the UNESCO ASPnet Transatlantic Slave Trade (TST) Education Project. He is the Chair of the Organizing Committee for the forthcoming IBERDA/EPA/NHP conference: "Aguda: Aspects of Afro-Brazilian Heritage in the Bight of Benin" (Porto-Novo, République du Bénin, 26-30 November 2001) and is a member of the Text and Testimony Collective.
        Professor Soumonni's research focuses on the slave ports of the Bight of Benin, as well as the specific history of Dahomey and the various Yoruba states. He is currently writing a book with Professor Paul Lovejoy on the History of Atlantic Africa; his ongoing research includes a biography of Pierre Tamata, the leading merchant at Porto-Novo at the end of the eighteenth century. In addition, he is also engaged in a larger project on the biographies of Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban families in the towns of the Bight of Benin.
        During his tenure as a Network Professor at the Nigerian Hinterland Project, Professor Soumonni has participated in various conferences and workshops, and he has presented papers at the Tubman Seminar "Afro-Brazilian Returnees to the Bight of Benin." Professor Soumonni has been particularly helpful in advising graduate students, both at York and within the Network. He recently participated in the African American History Month at the University of the West Indies (Mona), and helped to launch the Text and Testimony Collective. He also presented a public lecture 'The Impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on Inter-Ethnic Relations in Contemporary Africa' (23 February 2001). In October 2001, Professor Soumonni will undertake a five-week lecture tour of Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Bahia) and Cuba (Havana) under the auspices of Amsterdam-based SEPHIS. His lectures will focus on themes relating to Dahomey and the Atlantic world.
        As Coordinator of IBERDA, Université Nationale du Bénin, Professor Soumonni is charged with implementing the mandate of the UNESCO "Slave Route" Project, which at its inaugural conference in Ouidah in 1993, unanimously recommended that a research institution on the African diaspora be established in West Africa. In response, the York/UNESCO Nigerian Hinterland Project, with the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for the Network Professor Program, has assisted in the development of a program of research and institutional planning in support of IBERDA. The Nigerian Hinterland Project has provided a network which has assisted in this endeavour through the establishment of institutional links with the University of the West Indies, the University of Hull, Emory University, and various institutions in Latin America.


Chapters in Books

1999 'The Administration of a Port of the Slave Trade: Ouidah in the Nineteenth Century' in Robin Law & Silke Strickrodt (eds.), Ports of the Slave Trade (Bights of Benin and Biafra), Centre of Commonwealth Studies, University of Stirling)
1997 'The Neglected Local Source Material for Studying the Slave Trade and Slavery in Dahomey', in Robin Law (ed.), Source Material for Studying The Slave Trade and the African Diaspora (Centre of Commonwealth Studies, University of Stirling)
1995 'The Compatibility of the Slave and Palm Oil Trades in Dahomey', in Robin Law (ed.), From Slave to 'Legitimate' Commerce. The Commercial Transition in Nineteenth Century West Africa (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge)
1993 'The Policy of Trans-border Chieftaincy Institutions: the Yoruba astride the Nigeria-Benin Border', in A.I.Asiwaju & O.J.P.Igue, The Nigeria-Benin Trans-border Co-operation (University of Lagos Press, Lagos)
1992 'Aspects des mouvements nationalistes en Pays Yoruba', in C.R.Ageron & M.Michel (eds.), L'Afrique noire française: l'heure des independences (Editions du CNRS, Paris)
1991 'Historiography of Dahomean Yorubaland', in T.Falola (ed.), Yoruba Historiograohy (African Studies Program, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc.)


2001 'Some Reflections on the Brazilian Legacy in Dahomey', Slavery and Abolition, vol. 22
1998 'De l'interieur a la cote: des lacunes à combler dans l'étude de la traite negriere au Dahomey', Cahiers des Anneaux de la Memoire, vol. 1
1991 'Pour un programme coherent de recherche en histoire nationale', Afrika Zamani, New Series, vol. 1, Special Issue on Benin.

Conference Papers

1999 'Ouidah dans le reseau de la traite negriere transatlantique' (Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, 23-26 February 1999)
2000 'The Afro-Brazilian Communities of Ouidah and Lagos: a Comparative Analysis,' Conference on "Enslaving Connections: Africa and Brazil during the Era of the Slave" (York University, 12-15 October 2000)
2001 'Lacustrine Villages in South Benin as Refuges against the Slave Trade,' Conference on "Fighting Back: African Strategies Against the Slave Trade" (Rutgers University, 16-17 February 2001)

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