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Jody Arthur Benjamin
Regents of the University of California, Riverside (Riverside, CA 92521-0001)

Awards for Faculty
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$30,000 (approved)
$30,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2020 – 6/30/2020

The Texture of Change; Cloth, Commerce and History in Western Africa, 1700-1850

A book-length study about the history of textile commerce and consumption in western Africa during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Texture of Change re-examines social and economic change of the 18th and early 19th centuries across a broad region of western Africa from Senegal to Sierra Leone through its history of textile commerce and consumption. Historiographical debates for this region have obscured full consideration of the multiple ways west African societies engaged global exchange beyond Atlantic slaving. This research illuminates Africans’ varied engagements with a major trade that was effectively global in scale. It argues that they were critical actors during this period of global integration — contributing in their own right to the birth of the modern era. Far from being driven solely by external demands for labor or raw commodities, this process was heavily influenced by local conditions and patterns of social and market relations. This study offers insights into a diverse array of historical actors across ethnic, religious and imperial lines in western Africa.