Fusion Foodways of Africa's Gold Coast in the Atlantic Era


As most people in Atlantic-era West Africa—as in contemporary Europe and the Americas—were farmers, fields and gardens were the primary terrain where they engaged the opportunities and challenges of nascent globalization. Agricultural changes and culinary cross-currents from the Gold Coast indicate that Africans engaged the Atlantic world not with passivity but as full partners with others on continents whose histories have enjoyed longer, and greater, scholarly attention. The most important ‘seeds of change’ are not to be found in the DNA of crops and critters carried across the seas but instead in the creativity and innovation of the people who engaged the challenges and opportunities of the Atlantic World. 
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Biographical Note

J. D. La Fleur, Ph.D. (2003), is Assistant Professor of History at the College of William & Mary (USA). He is the translator-editor of Pieter van den Broecke's Journal of Voyages to Cape Verde, Guinea and Angola (Hakluyt, 2000).

Review Quote

Winner of the 2013 Mary W. Klinger Award for Best Book from the Society for Economic Botany. "[La Fleur's ]human-centered as opposed to crop-centered focus makes an important contribution to our knowledge of African foodways during this crucial era and furthers historians’ efforts to retrieve the dynamic roles of Africans in Africa as actors in our histories of the Atlantic world." Cynthia Bouton, Journal of Early Modern History (November, 2014) "... this is an excellent book." Ray Kea, New West Indian Guide (November, 2014) "... This is a well written and nicely produced book with broad appeal given its focus on issues that have developed in the wake of Crosby's influential The Columbian Exchange. In addition to its value as a work of historical scholarship, it will also be appreciated by anyone interested in African ethnobotany whether in Africa or elsewhere..." John Rashford, Economic Botany (June, 2013) "... La Fleur adds to our growing attempt to better include West Africa in Atlantic Studies, and thus make it less Eurocentric, while expanding our understanding of the role of women within the Gold Coast as they determined what new items would be adapted and which ones would not." Ty Reese, Itinerario: International Journal on the History of European Expansion and Global Interaction (April, 2013)

Table of contents

List of Maps, Illustrations, and Word Lists Preface and Acknowledgements Notes on Linguistic Evidence and African Languages 1. Finding Food in Early Afro-Atlantic History Africanist Historiography of Pre-Colonial Agriculture Themes and Structures 2. Introducing the Land to Culture, 25,000 BCE to circa 1400 CE Early Foraging to 25,000 BCE Specialized Foraging, 25,000 BCE to 10,000 BCE Intensified Foraging from 10,000 BCE Integrating Crops and Critters into Hunting, Gathering, and Foraging Initial Farming from 500 BCE Mature Farming, circa 1400 CE 3. Seeds of Change: Early African Experimentation in the Atlantic Era The Agro-Historical Milieu Plantains Maize Asian Rice 4. Reap What You Sow: The Profits and Perils of the New Starchy Crops Going for Gold with Plantains Allada Communities and Culinary Cross-Currents Baked Bread and Biscuits Kenkey Opportunities Brewing Sowing and Savoring Wealth Insecurity and Impoverishment amid Scarcity and Violence Suffering in Times of Plenty 5. The Porcupine’s Shame: Bearing the Burden of Cassava Culture Problems in the Earliest Records of Introduction Introducing Cassava Africanizing Cassava Culture Outsiders and Renewed Innovation with Cassava Colonial Postscript 6. Finding History in Early Afro-Atlantic Foodways Works Cited Index


Scholars, students, and interested readers of Atlantic history, African history, environmental and agricultrual hisory, and the world history of food.