Forts, Castles and Society in West Africa

Gold Coast and Dahomey, 1450-1960


Volume Editor:
Long regarded as disturbing remnants of the Atlantic slave trade, the European forts and castles of West Africa have attained iconic positions as universally significant historical monuments and world heritage tourist destinations. This volume of original contributions by leading Africanists presents extensive new historical views of the forts in Ghana and Benin, providing both impetus and a scholarly basis for further research and fresh debate about their historical and geographical contexts; their role in the slave trade; the economic and political connections, centred on the forts, between the Europeans and local African polities; and their place in variously focused heritage studies and endeavours.

Contributors are Hermann W. von Hesse, Daniel Hopkins, Jon Olav Hove, Ole Justesen, Ineke van Kessel, Robin Law, John Kwadwo Osei-Tutu, Jarle Simensen, Selena Axelrod Winsnes†, Larry Yarak.

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John Kwadwo Osei-Tutu, Ph.D. (2000), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), is Associate Professor of History (African and World) at NTNU. He has published a monograph, many articles and edited volumes, including (with Victoria Ellen Smith) Shadows of Empire in West Africa: New Perspectives on European fortifications (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).
'Very significantly, reader and researchers using Forts, Castles And Society In West Africa: Gold Coast & Dahomey will benefit from learning the fortresses roles in what critics have described as the abominable slave trade as well as the economic and political connections, which are centered on the forts, between the Europeans and local African polities; and also their place in various focused heritage studies and endeavors.
The 276-page Forts, Castles And Society In West Africa: Gold Coast & Dahomey is a publication that can tremendously benefit college students at all levels as well as researchers and the general reader. Both the editor and the contributors deserve praise in giving an old subject matter a fresh overview to make it an appropriate sequel, where Ghana is concerned, to Professor Albert Van Dantzig’s 1980 pioneering work, Forts and Castles of Ghana'.

Nana Abena D. Amoah-Ramey, Indiana University-Bloomington, in African and Asian Studies,18 (2019) pp. 213-231

'The multi-dimensional and thought-provoking nature of this book is a major contribution to our understanding of the West African forts and castles between 1450 and 1960. [...] Osei-Tutu is to be strongly credited for his efforts in bringing together a variety of scholars in order to provide a comprehensive and coherent presentation of what has been, until recently, a mostly sporadic and superficial attention to West African forts and castles'.

Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann, Hampshire College, in African Archaeological Review (2020) 37: 639–641
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors

1 Introduction: Forts, Castles, and Society in West Africa
John Kwadwo Osei-Tutu
2 Gold Coast Forts and Castles: Key Themes and Perspectives
Jarle Simensen
3 ‘Heaven Is High Above, and Europe Is Far Away’, so Christiansborg Prevails
Selena Axelrod Winsnes
4 ‘Creative and Expedient Misunderstandings’: Elmina-Dutch Relations in the 19th Century
Larry Yarak
5 Wax Prints in West Africa: Unravelling the Myth of Dutch Colonial Soldiers as Cultural Brokers
Ineke van Kessel
6William’s Fort: The English Fort at Ouidah, 1680s–1960s
Robin Law
7The Danish Guinea Coast Forts, Denmark’s Abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade, and African Colonial Policy, 1788–1850
Daniel Hopkins
8Political Relations between Osu and Christiansborg, 1803–1826
Ole Justesen
9Cosmopolitan Conundrums: Impacts of Trade Fortresses on the Gã Space, 1450–1870
John Kwadwo Osei-Tutu and Hermann W. von Hesse
10Forts and Castles in the Colonial Period: Uses and Understandings of the Pre-colonial Fortifications
Jon Olav Hove
All interested in the history of European imperialism and in the dynamics of African-European interaction in West Africa up to the 1960s.
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