Seminar: Powers, Territory and Politics of Personal Dependency in the Western Gold Coast (Ghana-Ivory Coast)


Video duration: 
1 h 28 min.

This seminar discusses the political and social history of southwest Ghana and southeast Côte d’Ivoire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, focusing on the consolidation of localized territorial domains (‘states’) within regional networks of relations of enduring strength. Substantive polities emerged during the eighteenth century that were centred on the personal estates of big men/commercial entrepreneurs. These entities underwent deep changes in the nineteenth century due to dramatic shifts in the general balance of power that impacted on social hierarchies and the dynamics of personal dependency. The European presence and interests, including that of the Dutch, played a relevant role in this history for their African partners, allies and competitors.

Pierluigi Valsecchi is Professor of the History of Africa in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Pavia. He has a PhD (History) from the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and has taught at the universities of Urbino, Teramo and Rome La Sapienza. From 1986 to 1994 he was a researcher in the African section of the Istituto per le relazioni con i paesi dell'Africa, America latina e Medio oriente (Ipalmo) in Rome and focused on post-colonial African politics and institutions, and the political transition in South Africa. Since 1987 he has been conducting research on the history of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. He has published articles and books in Italian, English and French including Power and State Formation in West Africa: Appolonia from the 16th to the 18th Century (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011) that he co-edited with Fabio Viti; and Mondes Akan/Akan Worlds1. Identité et pouvoir en Afrique occidentale / Akan Worlds. Identity and Power in West Africa (Paris: L'Harmattan, 1999).

Date, time and location

22 November 2012
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 5A42 (5th floor)