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date: 19 April 2019

African Diasporas: History and Historiography

Summary and Keywords

People of African descent who migrated from their “homelands” constituted, and still constitute, important forces in many African cultures outside of their “homelands” as well as in many other cultures outside of the African continent. Historically, the migration of people of African descent from their “homelands” is mainly linked to the pre-20th century Muslim or Asian trade and the Atlantic trade as well as to the post 1980 globalization of the capitalist system. Even before the post 1980 globalization of the capitalist system deepened the crises in African states and resulted in the migration of skilled and unskilled Africans to places like the United States, Canada, Britain and the Middle East, some scholars had written on people of African descent in several parts of the world. Although the earliest among those who wrote on the subject before the 1980s did not employ the term “African diaspora” in their analysis, an increasing number of scholars who wrote after 1950 have used the term in question in their study of people of African descent in various parts of the world. The relevant literature written after 1950 features disagreement over the meaning of the concept “African diaspora” and point to diverse methodologies that are useful in working on the subject. This particular literature can be divided into three broad categories: works that deal with the Old African diaspora, works that deal with the New African diaspora and works that deal with both the Old and New African diasporas. The historiography shows that works situated in all of these three categories mainly offer competing view over three fundamental questions: why did Africans leave their “homelands” and settle elsewhere? What was the impact of this process on the societies they left? How did Africans who left their “homelands” integrate into their host societies or preserve their unique identities; or, more broadly, what was the impact of their arrival on the host society they entered? Despite the rapid strides that have been made since the 1960s in regard to addressing these questions or in regards to the scholarly study of the African diasporas in general, there is still no firm definition of the term “African diaspora.” Moreover, there are still other gaps in the scholarly knowledge of the subject.

Keywords: African diasporas, Africanist historians, slave trade, continents, modernity

The African diaspora has a very long history tied to migrations within and outside of Africa. Although it is questionable to apply the label “African diaspora” to specific early migrations, it is clear that the dispersed presence of people of African descent outside of Africa and elsewhere within Africa outside of their “homelands” is tied to three major waves of migration. The first two waves occurred before the 20th century and shaped the development of the “Old” African diaspora. The third wave, which started post-1980s and is mainly tied to the negative impact of technocratic globalization, shaped the development of the “New” African diaspora. The literature on the African diasporas has been expanding since George Shepperson coined the term “African diaspora” in 1965. The roots of African diaspora studies can be traced to the desire among some Western scholars to answer questions regarding the descendants of Africans in the West, mainly in order to resist racist imperial control; and to the desire to liberate African history following the emergence of newly independent African states as a result of the decolonization process. Works on the African diasporas written since the 1960s have deployed sophisticated methodologies and have helped in the production of many key concepts, such as “African diaspora” and “Black Atlantic,” that underlie the scholarship. The relevant diasporic work has also addressed many important themes such as the slave trade, race, cultural identity, and political economy. Works on the slave trade have focused attention on issues such as its causes and consequences. In contributing to the literature on the consequences of the slave trade, some scholars have placed greater emphasis on debating whether or not the Atlantic trade had a significant impact on Africa. However, in terms of contributions to historical studies more broadly, it is clear that diaspora studies have enabled scholars to do several things, including challenging the European appropriation of world history, rewriting the histories of various parts of the world in which African diasporic communities exist, and globalizing African history.

History of the African Diasporas

Historically, the development of African diasporas within and outside of Africa have been associated with migrations. These migrations were often complex and multidirectional, and they did not always share the same rationale nor did they result in identical African diasporas. Indeed, not all of the three waves of migrations associated with the development of the African diasporas outside of Africa were dominantly driven by the slave trade; and similarly, not all African diasporic communities developed as a result of migrant traditions associated with freeborn traders.

The history of migration within and outside of Africa dates back to about 100,000 years ago. Many of the first migrants populated various parts of Africa while many others populated parts of Asia and Europe. Another migration within Africa started in around 3000 bce, when Bantu-speaking peoples migrated from what became parts of Nigeria and Cameroon to other parts of Africa as well as to the Indian Ocean area. The influence of the Bantu culture and language is still evident in eastern and southern Africa. However, it is questionable to apply the label “African diaspora” to the migration of Bantu-speaking peoples or to the first migration within and outside of Africa that began 100,000 years ago since factors such as time, memory, and lack of records preclude certain knowledge related to such early migrations.1

While early migrations may not constitute “African diasporas,” it is clear that the dispersed presence of people of African descent outside of Africa before the 20th century was tied to two major streams of trade in Africa’s history: the Muslim or Asian trade and the Atlantic trade. The first wave of relevant migration was tied to the Muslim or Asian trade. Beginning in about the 5th century and continuing until the 19th century, it located a range of people of African descent in what many scholars treat as the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean diasporas. These diasporas comprised a significant number of free migrants identified as merchants, clerics, sailors, servants, and soldiers. Some of the identified free migrants even became aristocrats or military commanders. In addition to free migrants, the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean diasporas also included slaves. However, the slave trade did not become important in the development of these diasporas until the 18th and 19th centuries, when this particular trade peaked as a result of various factors including the intensification of date cultivation and pearl diving in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.2

Unlike the first wave of migration, which was tied to Muslim or Asian trade, the second wave, associated with the Atlantic trade, was mainly driven by enslavement. This second wave of migration began in the 15th century and continued until the late 19th century. It located approximately twelve million Africans in the Americas. Research has shown that even at its peak the Muslim or Asian slave trade never reached the level of the Atlantic slave trade.3 It has also shown that even though the expansion of the African diasporas in the Atlantic world through migration from Africa was hampered with the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, the dispersal of people of African descent continued via the Underground Railroad from the United States to Canada and through similar post-emancipation migrations within the Americas and from the Americas to Europe and Africa.

In addition to the relevant diasporas that developed outside of Africa, internal African diasporas existed prior to the 20th century. These internal diasporas comprised merchants, clerics, migrant free laborers, and slaves who moved beyond their African “homelands.” Although many factors contributed to the development of the internal African diasporas, by the 19th century enslavement/internal displacement within Africa accounted for most such diasporas.4 In the colonial period, slavery and slave trading were gradually abolished in various parts of Africa. As a result, while the migrant tradition associated with traders, clerics, and free migrant laborers continues to shape the development of internal African diasporas up to the 21st century, the migrant tradition that was based on enslavement ceased to be important in the development of internal African diasporas.

Although Western nations implemented race-based policies that restricted migration from Africa and other parts of the world after the abolition of the slave trade, Africans trickled to the Americas and other parts of the world up to the late 20th century. This trickle of migrants from Africa to Western societies consisted of students, Kru/sailors, laborers, and veterans of World War I and II.5 By the 1980s, the rate of African immigrant arrivals in the Western world and elsewhere outside the African continent increased significantly. This new wave of migration, which accounts for the New African diasporas in the Americas and elsewhere, may be attributed to several factors including the more liberal and favorable immigration policies implemented by Western nations and the globalization of the capitalist system, which “deepened the crises in African states, leading to mass poverty and intensifying political conflicts.”6 Thus the New African diasporas consist of skilled and unskilled workers, many of whom escaped from civil wars and other problems associated with the globalization of the capitalist system. Although most of the highly skilled migrants moved to dominant Western nations such as the United States, an increasing number of the African diasporas that developed due to the negative impact of technocratic globalization can be found in areas within Africa, such as South Africa, and in areas outside the continent, such as the Middle East and China.

The Development of African Diaspora as a Field of Historical Inquiry

Diaspora is a term of ancient Greek derivation. Originally, it referred to the practice of imperial expansion and territorial absorption that characterized the ancient era. Over time, however, the term was used in Greek translations of the Christian Bible’s Deuteronomy 28:25 to describe the shared experiences of Jewish people during periods of captivity. By the early 20th century, scholars applied the term diaspora not only to the Jews, but also to the Armenians and Greeks.7

The first application of the term diaspora to Africans dates back to the era of decolonization in Africa, or more specifically to the 1950s and 1960s when continental Africans and diaspora Africans were cooperating to combat colonialism and racial discrimination and when the racial categorization of the world gave way to area studies analysis. Prior to these two decades, there was little interest in African history in Europe and America, and Africa was mainly studied as an extension of Europe. As African nationalist movements began to win independence from the European colonial powers by the 1950s, however, Western nations increasingly became concerned about where the emerging independent African states would enter the global arena—that is, whether they would remain loyal to the former European colonial rulers and the United States or whether they would shift their loyalty to the Soviet Union and the communist bloc countries. In the context of such concerns, the European colonial powers started establishing universities in Africa. They also started to pursue serious research in African history in order to ensure that new African nations would remain tied to the capitalist fold.

With the development of the study and writing of African history from about the 1950s, historians were initially concerned with dispelling the notion that Africa had no history worthy of study before Europeans arrived on the continent in the 15th century. Thus they tended to focus on such issues as great states, great men, and great ideas. They also tended to write national histories. By the 1960s, however, a growing number of historians turned their attention to different sets of issues. For instance, some became concerned with the history of ordinary men and women, including slaves; others became concerned with denationalizing history; and yet others, influenced by Frank Tannenbaum’s comparative study,8 began to seek a better understanding of American and European societies through a focus on comparable developments elsewhere.

In addition to being an era of decolonization and of the development of the study and writing of African history, the 1950s and 1960s also witnessed the civil rights movement in the United States. This movement focused attention on African American history in the same way that the African independence movement promoted a significant focus on the African past. Although African Americans were more concerned with the issue of racial equality in the United States than with Africa or other parts of the African diaspora in the 1960s, the civil rights movement ensured that an increasing number of them favored asserting a separate African American identity that would be equal but different. In the midst of such changes taking place in the civil rights era, some scholars in the West, including scholars of African descent, became committed to addressing questions regarding such issues as how the descendants of Africans in the West might relate to those that were emerging from colonialism. Many such scholars attended conferences in various parts of the world, while some were involved in the formation of the Society for African Culture (SAC) in 1956. It is clear that the expression “African diaspora” came into use in the period following the founding of SAC, but prior to the International Congress of African Historians held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (1965), which was attended by a number of Western scholars.

George Shepperson, the first historian to join “African” to “diaspora,” did so in a lecture at the pan-Africanist conference in Dar es Salaam, in what became Tanzania, in 1965.9 However, he was not the first scholar to address issues related to Africans living in societies geographically separated from Africa or in societies outside their homelands. Examples of scholars who had addressed such issues before Shepperson but did not use the term African diaspora include W. E. B. Du Bois and Melville Herskovits.10

Although Shepperson coined the term African diaspora, it took about a decade for the term to pass into more general currency. The expanding usage of the term since the late 1970s is tied to the growing rejection of nationalist perspectives in favor of multicultural, comparative, transnational, and transatlantic perspectives by scholars in various fields. It is also tied to several other factors including the steady increase in contact among regions around the Atlantic and the notable efforts of scholars. Indeed, to help popularize the use of the term and to help promote research and teaching in African diaspora studies, scholars based in various parts of the world, including Joseph Harris, Michael Gomez, Toyin Falola, and Paul Lovejoy, have developed courses, organized conferences, and established movements or collaborative research networks.

The African Diaspora Concept

In addition to coining the term African diaspora, Shepperson comprehensively addressed the issue of the definition of the concept. For him, the term African diaspora describes the great movement or migration of people of African descent during the eras of slavery and imperialism. Although he pointed out that the focus of the African diaspora should be on the slave trade, slavery, the period of imperialism, and the partition of Africa, he was of the opinion that for the concept to be of maximum value for the new African historiography, its definition needed to be extended in both time and space. In calling for the extension of the definition, Shepperson did not favor subsuming all African migrations under this concept. Rather, he mainly favored including three other things within the African diaspora: the movement of Africans to Europe before the commencement of the Atlantic slave trade; the enslavement of Africans by Muslim powers; and the relevant migrations within Africa such as those related to the creation of Sierra Leone and the dispersal of people from Malawi to eastern and southern Africa in the 1890s.11 While scholars such as Tony Martin question the applicability of the term diaspora to the African experience,12 a number of others have, over the years, contributed to tightening up Shepperson’s definition of the African diaspora. Thus, it is important to highlight the other definitions of African diaspora offered by these scholars.

Joseph Harris views the African diaspora as “a triadic relationship linking a dispersed group of people to the homeland, Africa, and to their host or adopted countries.” Unlike Shepperson, he stresses that Africa should be at the center of any discussion of the African diaspora. In particular, Harris notes that the African diaspora embodies both voluntary and involuntary movements of Africans since ancient times; the emergence of cultural identity in host societies that were African centered; and the psychological and physical return to Africa of people of African descent in the diaspora.13

Although some historians such as Alusine Jalloh have embraced Harris’s definition of the African diaspora, which goes beyond the original boundary outlined by Shepperson,14 others question the notion that Africa should be at the center of any conception or discussion of the African diaspora. For instance, Paul Gilroy excludes the homeland from his analysis of culture and modernity and conceptualizes the African diaspora simply as the history of black people in Western societies.15 In contrast to Gilroy, Patrick Manning defines the African diaspora as the settlement and community of people of sub-Saharan African descent in America and Eurasia that emerged from forced migration.16 Paul Lovejoy stresses the interrelationship between ethnicity and diaspora and defines the African diaspora as the various locations within and outside the African continent where people from various African homelands live.17 Colin Palmer includes within the African diaspora both the continent and the diaspora and stresses the inclusion of five diasporic streams: the early African diaspora, including movements within and outside Africa that started about 100,000 years ago; the settlement of the southern half of the African continent by Bantu-speaking people, which started around 3000 bce; the movement of traders, merchants, slaves, soldiers, and others to parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, which began around the 5th century bce; the dispersion or movement of Africans associated with the Atlantic trade, which began in earnest in the 15th century; and the dispersal of Africans from the end of slavery to the present. Although the boundaries in Palmer’s definition seem to match those set forth by Harris, it rejects any notion of a sustained desire to immigrate to Africa by people of African descent currently living outside the boundaries of Africa.18

Similar to Palmer, Paul Tiyambe Zeleza offers a definition of the term African diaspora in the context of responding to such studies as Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic. Unlike Palmer, who includes Paleothetic times in his definition of the term in question, Zeleza states that it refers to communities created within “historical memory” by people of African descent at distances from what they considered their homeland. In contributing to the discourse on the African diaspora, Zeleza also signals the need for African diaspora studies to have three features: a global framework, an interdisciplinary methodology, and a comparative perspective. Other scholars, however, find other methodologies more useful in working on the African diaspora. For instance, Michael Gomez stresses the need for African diaspora studies to explore cultural adaptation and change (or the need for such studies to embrace the creolization/survivalist approach) as well as the need to embrace a comparative historical approach in which diverse diasporic communities located in different parts of the world at different periods are compared and contrasted in order to gain a broader and better understanding of the subject; Kim Butler favors the comparative study of different/overlapping diasporas and the use of interdisciplinary ideas and methods; Edward Alpers also favors the comparative study of different/overlapping diasporas but stresses the need to locate comparisons within a number of larger global processes of change from ancient to modern to contemporary times as well as the need to pay careful attention to popular culture while recognizing the self-conscious identifications of diasporic intellectuals; and Pier Larson stresses the need to pay close attention to the consciousness of placement and displacement in narratives of enslavement left behind by people of African descent.19

Works That Deal With the Old African Diaspora

The historiography of the Old African diaspora shows that most of the historical literature falls within the period from the 15th to the 19th century and that while some of this relevant literature focuses on the intra-African, Indian Ocean, and Mediterranean diasporas, most of it deals with the Atlantic world diasporas. The historiography also shows that most extant works are less concerned with studying the African diasporas at broader global scales.

Works on the African diasporas in the Atlantic world fall into two basic typologies. One type focuses on specific imperial national, regional, or local histories, highlighting similarities and differences as well as the relationship between local events and a wider web of connections. Although most scholars who embrace this framework of analysis have tended to focus on a few traditional locations such as the United States, Britain, Brazil, and Jamaica,20 some scholars have written on long-overlooked locations such as Costa Rica, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Colombia.21 The second approach to the history of the African diaspora in the Atlantic world involves focusing on the entire Atlantic region rather than on specific imperial, national, regional, or local histories. Those that embrace this approach often stress the interactive linkages among various Atlantic societies or view the Atlantic world as a unified zone of exchange, circulation, and transmission of people, ideas, goods, and warfare.

In studies both by scholars who have embraced the pan-Atlantic approach and by those who focus on a specific segment of the Atlantic world, three main questions have continued to dominate the historical debate on the African diasporas in the Atlantic world. Firstly, why did Africans leave their “homelands” and settle elsewhere? Secondly, what was the impact of this process on the societies they left? Thirdly, how did Africans who left their “homelands” integrate into their host societies or preserve their unique identities; or, more broadly, what was the impact of their arrival on the host society they entered? In the area of work on why Africans left their “homelands” and settled elsewhere, in an effort to undermine the notion that chattel slavery is natural to Africa, Joseph Inikori argues that what was considered slavery in Africa was much closer to European serfdom than to chattel slavery.22 Similar to Inikori, Lovejoy accepts that slavery was not natural to Africa. In contrast to the former, however, he draws attention to several issues including the existence of slavery in several parts of Africa prior to European contact and the diverse factors that shaped enslavement related to the Atlantic and other slave trades involving Africa. While many historians advance views similar to those of Inikori and Lovejoy on why Africans left their “homelands” and settled elsewhere, relatively few have concentrated on shedding light on why a few Africans, such as Fenda Lawrence, voluntarily moved to the New World.23 On the second question regarding the impact of the processes of forced and voluntary migration on the societies that people of African origins left behind, historians have placed greater emphasis on debating whether or not the Atlantic trade had a significant impact on Africa and on such issues as mortality, the middle passage, and the organization of the slave trade.24

The initial emphasis of scholars who embraced the pan-Atlantic approach and the approach that focuses on a specific segment of the Atlantic world, especially those who embraced the wider Atlantic perspective, was mainly on the relationship between America and Europe or the English-speaking North Atlantic. In other words, such initial works either overlooked or marginalized Africa and Latin America. In seeking to provide an alternative to the model that excludes or marginalizes Africa and elsewhere, some scholars have spearheaded a movement that argues for two things: the need to recognize the contributions of the Africans and their descendants in the Atlantic diaspora, and the need to place significant emphasis on the lusophone South Atlantic. Scholars who have focused attention on the fruitfulness of this alternative approach have helped to address the third question that continues to dominate the historical debate on the African diasporas and to expand knowledge of various issues such as ethnicity and identity, race, creolization, class, gender, and cultural transformations. In one relevant contribution on slave origin and identity, Wendy Wilson Fall emphasizes the memories of descendants of Malagasy immigrants, in what became the United States, to contribute to undermining the notion that the originating experiences of enslaved Africans cannot be related to the Indian Ocean region.25 Similarly, in other relevant contributions, Manolo Florentino has expanded knowledge of slave trading in Brazil in several studies.26

Given the fact that conventional studies either overlooked or marginalized African cultural contributions and the extent to which the ethnicity, identity, and culture of enslaved Africans were transformed in the New World, some historians have used data sets such as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. A Database on CD-ROM,27 as well as other relevant sources, to shed light on the linkages between specific parts of Africa and specific areas in the New World and to argue that Africans were not randomly distributed as previously assumed. Following the Melville Herskovits–E. Franklin Frazier debate on the degree to which enslaved Africans in the New World lost or retained their African cultures, some historians have contributed important works on New World slave culture that focus not only on West African diasporas, but also increasingly on West Central African and southern East African diasporas. In one important work that focuses on West Central African diasporas, James H. Sweet stresses the inadequacy of both the creolization and survival approaches in explaining the African cultural and spiritual experiences in the Americas. Arguing against the notion that Africans were always randomized in the Americas, he also points to the specific cultural groupings that shared many things in common, including language and religion, that arrived in the Americas, and argues that such cultural groups stuck to their fixed and unchanging main spiritual belief even after their arrival in this particular part of the world.28 In contrast to Sweet, Walter Hawthorne, focusing on “Upper Guinean” slaves in 18th-century Amazonia, relates the crossing of the Atlantic to the development of pan-regional identity. Also unlike Sweet, he focuses on the development of rice cultivation in the New World and argues against the notion that there was continuity between relevant practices in the Upper Guinea region and Amazonia. Overall, what Hawthorne’s study suggests is that knowledge from native peoples, enslaved Africans, and Europeans shaped the development of the planting system in the Amazonian region.29

The population of Africans is often categorized in terms of religious identity. Unsurprisingly, the study of the identity, culture, and resistance of Africans in the Americas has been enriched by works that focus on Islam and Muslims. Joao Jose Reis illustrates the central role that ethnicity and Islam played in the success of the 19th-century African uprisings in Bahia. In so doing, he argues that ethnic rationale played a central role in the uprisings and he opposes two notions: that the uprising was a jihad and that it was primarily shaped by Nago ethnicity.30 Of equal significance are the works of Lovejoy and Manuel Barcia on the slave rebellions in Brazil and Cuba, respectively.31 Lovejoy, unlike Reis, argues that a common Islamic belief played a central role in the relevant uprisings. He also points to strong similarities between the 19th-century uprisings in Brazil and the Sokoto jihad in West Africa. Barcia, in his study, draws attention to the similarities between Sokoto caliphate warfare and combat strategies and slave resistance strategies in Cuba and Latin America. As Barcia, other historians focusing on diasporas associated with other parts of Africa have stressed the link between slave resistance strategies in the Atlantic world and African combat strategies. For instance, T. J. Desch-Obi ties the origins of specific North American, Caribbean, and Brazilian martial arts traditions to a Kongo-Angola art known as engolo and details how New World slaves used such martial arts for resistance and other purposes. He also draws attention to the fact that martial arts in Africa and the Americas both rely strongly on similar things, including dance and music.32

One of the important areas of diaspora research since the 1980s has been that of gender studies. Many works on gender stress the common experiences of women in the African diaspora and emphasize themes such as motherhood, childbearing, and resistance. Although some gender studies have mainly focused on women, others have explored the complex issue of sexual relationships between Europeans and enslaved African women. Works on such gender issues have helped to expand knowledge of various issues. For instance, one major study that stresses gender as well as the points of commonality among women of African descent in the diaspora is Darlene Clark Hine and Kathleen Thompson’s A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America.33

While some scholars who study the Old African diasporas in the Americas focus primarily on the pre-emancipation period, others focus mainly on the post-emancipation era, highlighting the struggles of the descendants of those who left their African homelands as part of the Atlantic slave trade. Jack S. Blocker Jr., for example, focuses mainly on post-emancipation experiences of African Americans and argues that emancipation resulted in a much wider range of choices, of which the most obvious and far reaching (for African Americans) was the decision to stay or move.34 It is notable that Blocker Jr., and many other scholars who study the post-emancipation period, use the term “African diaspora” as a synonym for the descendants of those enslaved in the Americas. By the 1980s, the work of such scholars became less focused on politics in post-emancipation societies and more concerned with issues of gender, social, and cultural affairs.35

Among the works on modern African diasporas in Europe, some of the literature has explored the history of Caribbean migration to Europe during the 20th century, thereby addressing the cross-continental interrelations that shaped modern “Afro-American” life. Although some of this literature focuses on locations such as Germany and Portugal, most of them focus on Great Britain.36

In order to decenter the Atlantic paradigm, some scholars have helped to extend the term African diaspora to relevant historical processes in both the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean worlds, and they have also been at the forefront of research and publication on the African diasporas in these two broad parts of the world. In this context the work of John Hunwick, which highlights the neglected story of the dispersal of people of African origin in the Arab, Muslim, and Asiatic world as a result of the trans-Saharan and trans-Indian Ocean trade, constitutes a pioneering study. Hunwick stresses that the more liberal Muslim attitudes towards slaves in comparison with the attitudes of slave owners in the New World, coupled with the much easier path to freedom for slaves under Muslim law, enabled many black African slaves or their free descendants to reach positions of considerable importance in Muslim lands from Morocco to Egypt to India.37

Following Hunwick’s pioneering work, some scholarship by other scholars has focused on the African diasporas in the Indian Ocean and in the Mediterranean. For instance, in terms of the African diaspora in the Indian Ocean, Joseph E. Harris has explored the African presence in Asia, thereby enriching knowledge of the achievements of people of African descent. Edward Alpers has explored the issue of the applicability of the term “victim diaspora” to the dispersal of people of African origin to this particular region, and in so doing compares the African diaspora in the Indian Ocean region with relevant diasporas in the Atlantic, thereby pointing to a model that places the African diaspora within a broader global scope. Mathew S. Hopper, as Alpers, calls for a global approach to the African diaspora. In particular, he ties the personal stories of enslaved Africans in Arabia in the 19th and early 20th centuries to the expansion of commodity production for global consumption, and argues, among others, that there was a significant shift in the use and acquisition of slaves that accompanied the spread of global capitalism.38 Richard Pankhurst has examined the African diaspora in India from early medieval times to the late 18th century and demonstrated how the Habshis and their descendants rose from slavery to ultimately establish ruling dynasties in various parts of India. Gwyn Campbell, Alpers, and other scholars, in different studies, have drawn attention to such relevant issues as the slave trade in the Indian Ocean, the varieties of slavery, and African experiences in South Asia and the connections between India and East Africa. Azaria Mbughuni has traced the movement of African people to the Indian subcontinent, thus demonstrating the interconnectedness of Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent in terms of the slave trade. Apart from Alpers and Pankhurst, scholars such as Helen Basu and Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya have also enriched our understanding of African diasporas in locations such as western India and Sri Lanka.39 Similarly, in terms of the African diasporas located mainly in the Mediterranean world, a volume edited by Lovejoy emphasizes the importance of investigating how slaves in the Islamic world reacted to their enslavement, and how people used Islam to justify slavery. This particular volume also features articles by Ehud Toledano, who examines the attitudes of descendants of slaves towards historical research on Muslim slavery and by extension the African diasporas in Middle Eastern and Ottoman societies; Maryna Kravetts, who explores how the Crimean Khanate in the “Golden Horde” acquired and used black eunuchs who were not docile actors or victims; and Behnaz Mirzai, who sheds light on harem life in Iran.40 Moreover, in her study published in 2017, Mirzai contributes to the expanding literature on the African diaspora in the Persian Gulf by drawing attention to the dichotomy of Islamic ideals and historical realities in arguments used by Iranian slaveholders and by stressing other interesting issues, including how enslaved Africans reinvented their ethnic identity (and eventually lost their distinct ethnocultural identities) and how they became wage laborers in host societies.41

Many scholars have made notable contributions to the literature on the internal African diasporas mainly in localized studies that don’t use the term “diaspora.” For instance, while ignoring the use of the term, Ismael Musa Montana, Chouki El Hamel, and Patrick Harris have shed new light on the African diaspora. In particular, Montana has expanded knowledge of the experiences of Hausa and Bornu slaves in Tunis.42 Chouki El Hamel undermines conventional interpretations of slavery in Islam and in Moroccan society. Specifically, he uses diverse sources to challenge the conventional readings on the integration of black Africans in Morocco. In addition to highlighting attention to the development of racial stereotypes and of the racial ideology of enslavement based on color and culture, El Hamel shed’s light on key themes including slave agency and gender.43 Patrick Harris goes beyond the traditional themes of labor history to examine themes such as culture, identity, and interpretation.44 He argues, among others, that although Mozambican workers moved to South Africa with the values, signs, and rituals of authority they had learned in their homelands, they developed a new and dynamic culture in their host societies through their interaction with other Africans as well as with Europeans and colonists.

On a related front, there have also been important works on liberated Africans. Between 1808 and 1868, European officers, mainly British naval officers, intercepted a significant number of slave ships involved in illegal slave trading across the Atlantic and in the process liberated about 200,000 enslaved Africans. The exploration of the history of these liberated Africans who were sent to various parts of the world is one of the exciting trends in African diaspora historiography. Although some scholars have been preoccupied with relevant quantitative projects or mainly with non-West African societies, some histories of liberated Africans have focused primarily on African societies and on important themes such as identity, migration, culture, health issues affecting liberated Africans, and the settlement and employment of liberated Africans.45

Of the relatively few scholars who use the term “diaspora” in their works on internal African diasporas or who have contributed to volumes that deal mainly with the subject, some have argued for the inclusion of such things as African trading diasporas and “intracontinental forced migrations” within the broad concept of African diaspora in order to obtain a more nuanced understanding of many relevant issues. In addition to focusing attention on such an argument, the historiography shows that most works that use the term “diaspora” have either focused on a few internal African diasporas such as the Fula, Hausa, and Bornu diasporas,46 or on New World returnees.47

While some works on the internal New African diasporas focus on the period before the 20th century, others place more emphasis on examining the period from the early 20th century to about the 1980s. Some scholars who focus on the latter period have addressed the struggles of the “more localized Afro-Americans” or have explored the cross-continental interrelations that shape modern African American life in their contribution to the literature on the internal African diaspora. Some studies in this tradition include the work of Addell Patton Jr., which emphasizes the role of African Americans in providing medical skills to Africa, and Jim C. Harper II’s Western-Educated Elites in Kenya, 1900–1963: The African American Factor, which stresses links between Africans and African Americans and provides insights on the issue of pan-Africanism.

Works That Deal With the New African Diaspora

The literature on the New African diaspora mainly focuses on the post-1980 waves of voluntary African migration to various regions outside their homelands. This literature seems less extensive than the literature on the Old African diaspora. Virtually all of the edited volumes on the New African diaspora are based on the multidisciplinary approach in the sense that they include works authored by scholars from diverse academic disciplines including history, sociology, anthropology, and political science. Kwadwo Konadu-Agyemang, Baffour Takyi, and John Arthur’s The New African Diaspora in North America: Trends, Community Building and Adaptation; Khalid Koser’s New African Diasporas; Isidore Okpewho and Nkiru Nzegwu’s The New African Diaspora; and John W. Frazier, Joe T. Darden, and Norah F. Henry’s The African Diaspora in the United States and Canada at the Dawn of the 21st Century, are some of the important edited volumes published on the New African diaspora. In addition to such edited volumes, of course, there are single-authored books and articles that present case studies on recent waves of African migration. The historiography related to both categories of emerging studies reveals some important things. Firstly, it shows that the themes of emerging studies include identity, gender, African professionals and brain drain, asylum seekers, and second-generation diasporic Africans.

Secondly, it points to the fact that very little attention has been given to the historical dimensions of the subject. This explains in part why the transnational historical discourse of African diaspora scholars is not heavily weighted towards modern times, and why the “diaspora apart” model, which portrays a diaspora that is excluded from Africa/the homeland, has been predominantly employed in the study of the New African diaspora.

Isidore Okpewho and Nkiru Nzegwu’s pathbreaking edited study The New African Diaspora, which represents the first multidisciplinary approach to the subject, reveals, among other things, that “brain drain” is a major consequence of the development of the New African diaspora. Thus, following Okpewho and Nzegwu’s study, other works in the genre have focused on the theme of professionalization and brain drain. One of the studies interrogates popular and intellectual assumptions about diaspora, brain drain, and brain gain. It introduces interesting recommendations on how to transform brain drain into brain gain.48 Although Zeleza edited a special issue of a journal that deals with the theme of brain drain,49 in his non-editorial contribution to that journal he mainly tackles two topics: the dynamics and directions of contemporary global migrations and the patterns and trends of African migrations to Western Europe and North America. Unlike the scholarly works that mainly focus on the issue of “brain drain and brain gain,” works by scholars such as Olufemi Vaughan have shed light on the broader impact of technocratic globalization in relevant diasporic communities in Africa and the Western world.50

There have been insightful studies on the common theme of identity within the emerging body of literature. For instance, focusing on West African immigrants in the United States, Baffour Takyi articulates how, despite having multiple ties and identities, Nigerian and Ghanaian immigrants do not immediately identify themselves as African Americans.51 Similarly, focusing on second-generation Igbo young adults in the Washington, DC area of the United States, Uchenna Onuzulike stresses how this specific generation has utilized a variety of channels, such as social media, to identify with their ancestral homeland and to maintain their ethnic identity in their host society.52

The crisis of identity among African Muslims in the New diasporas is the primary focus of many works. One very exciting contribution on ethnicity, ritual, and Islam in Portugal by Michelle C. Johnson undermines the assumption that to be Mandinga is to naturally be Muslim.53 Unlike Johnson, other scholars have been more concerned with the issue of the international dimensions of Islam and Christianity. In terms of this literature on religious transnationalism, scholars of Christianity have made the most progress. Among the works on Christian transnationalism, a book chapter by Oyebade employs a transnational perspective and documents the importance of the African indigenous church in the mid-size southern city of Nashville, Tennessee and its suburbs.54

Some of the literature on the New African diaspora that are beginning to tease out gender issues include the works of Mary Osirim Johnson and Adenike Yesufu.55 Yesufu focuses on Edmonton, Canada in order to shed light on the experiences of African Canadian women. Johnson’s study stresses, among other things, that African migrant women in the United States were more committed to building civil society organizations than their male peers.

Scholars of the New African diaspora have been preoccupied with addressing three main questions: why did Africans leave their “homelands” and settle elsewhere? what was the impact of this process on the societies they left? and what is the impact of their arrival on the host society they entered? However, unlike those who study the Old African diaspora, they have paid less attention to the first two questions. In giving most of the historiographical focus to addressing the third question, scholars of the New African diaspora have mainly explored three broad regions outside Africa: America, Europe, and Asia. Of these three regions, most works have focused on America, especially on North America. Apart from Oyebade’s work on the Nashville region, studies by scholars such as Joseph O. Akinbi and Nemata Blyden have contributed to the literature on the United States. Akinbi stresses the factors responsible for the immigration of many Nigerians to the United States and emphasizes other issues including the challenges confronting the Nigerian diasporas in their relevant host countries.56 Blyden, in an article she coauthored with F. A. Akiwumi, examines the origins and experiences of new African immigrants in various parts of the United States. She asserts, among other things, that such immigrants often lose their status and experience discrimination as they make the transition from their former countries to the new one.57

Works on African refugee groups in other parts of the world from countries such as Sudan, Somalia, Liberia, Rwanda, and Eritrea contribute significant case studies to the emerging studies on identity, and to the emerging field in general. Among these works, Rima Bens McGown’s Muslims in Diaspora: The Somali Communities of London and Toronto explores how Somali refugees have redefined their identity in the course of their dislocation, and the nature of their integration into the West.58

Works on Both the Old and New African Diasporas

This section is not concerned with the growing body of work that focuses mainly on the different aspects of the complicated contemporary relationship between the New and Old African diasporas. Rather, it discusses the literature that focuses on the two periods in the history of the African diasporas, the period before the 1990s and the one after that date. Only a few works will be highlighted, and they do not include the edited works by scholars compiling collections of essays “tracking Africans.” Indeed, it includes mainly single-authored works that are concerned with the themes of similarity and difference, time and place, change and continuity, and connections.

One of the major studies that comprehensively focuses on the two periods in the history of the African diasporas at the same time was written by a renowned sociologist, Gilroy.59 In his study, Gilroy rejects the conventional interpretation that modernity and Western civilization were mainly the result of “Enlightenment projects.” In so doing, he relates the development of Western modernity to violence and brutality and argues that many of the ideas associated with modernity and Westernization were contributed by black intellectuals who had what W. E. B. Du Bois labeled “double consciousness,” or the awareness of having a dual identity: one as African and the other as American. In addition to stressing that blacks were intellectual actors, Gilroy analyzes popular music and black Atlantic thought in order to highlight the relationship between international travels and the development of black political and cultural movements. In so doing, he rejects essentialist and pluralist interpretations of race and culture. Gilroy, unlike those who embrace the essentialist and pluralist frameworks, stresses the fluidity and modernity of race and culture and emphasizes that pure cultures never emerged, in part because of the terrors of racism and in part because the Atlantic Ocean acted as a bridge between humans rather than a physical barrier.

Gilroy’s work has been criticized by many scholars. For instance, Patrick Manning questions its focus on the Atlantic world. In so doing, Manning places his study of the African diasporas, which focuses on the Americas and Eurasia since 1400, in a global framework by tracing the connections among the various regions of the black world and by emphasizing the social dynamics of these connections. He shows, by reference to the themes of the connections that held together the African diaspora as a global community of mutual identification (the discourse on race, changes in economic life, patterns of family life, and the evolution of popular culture) that the dynamics, conflicts, and discoveries of the African continent have been on a par with those of the Americas and the Old World diasporas. In advancing this broad argument, Manning points to, among other things, both innovation and continuity in African and diaspora culture, and unlike scholars of modernity who base their works on elitist and imperial perspectives, he also points to how the rise of modernity was tied to the actions and insights of commoners including laborers, artisans, and poets.60 Similarly, in contributing to the relevant literature that criticizes Gilroy’s study, Zeleza stresses that The Black Atlantic homogenizes the African diasporas. To demonstrate that stories of African diasporas are far more complex and fascinating than they often appear in works by scholars such as Gilroy, Zeleza maps out the dispersal of African peoples since the first millennium, thereby drawing attention not only to multiple diasporas at different geographical and temporal scales, but also to the different connections of such diasporas with Africa. It is clear that he also calls for the decentralization of the Atlantic in the study of the African diasporas.61

Another major study that comprehensively focuses on the two periods in the history of the African diasporas at the same time was written by another renowned sociologist, Robin Cohen. In his study, Cohen classifies the African diaspora as a “victim diaspora” and stresses the continuity of consciousness of Africa as the ancestral homeland of people of African descent in the Americas since about 1500, even if many of them have not returned to Africa. In particular, he describes the origins of the African diaspora and draws attention to several interesting aspects of the African diaspora such as its notions of homeland, its cultural achievements, and the literary talents of writers of African descent. In so doing, Cohen argues that the African diaspora latched onto a collective memory and myth about the homeland, its location, and its achievements. He also argues that the African diaspora, which mainly viewed its homeland as centered around Ethiopia, sought to maintain the safety and prosperity of their homelands and have shown solidarity when the homeland was in danger in contemporary times. Similarly, Cohen emphasizes other common features, such as the importance of a return movement, that made the African diaspora and the Armenian diaspora fit into the category of victim diasporas.62

Unlike Cohen, Emmanuel Akyeampong has made a notable contribution to the relevant historiography by stressing discontinuity and by including the New African diaspora in his analysis. In particular, he examines the changing nature of diaspora over time and its ramifications for several things including the economic potential of the free flow of skilled Africans and African financial capital for African development. Although he places more emphasis on the 20th century, he notes the tie between the global political economy and the global dispersion of Africans and identifies the different routes of the historical African diasporas as well as the diversity of experiences in the diaspora. Furthermore, he notes the shift from forced migration in the early period to the voluntary dispersion on a global scale for economic and political reasons in the contemporary period. For Akyeampong, as compared with the early period, Africa and its diasporas exist in a closer physical union in the post-1980 period, and he illustrates how the Ghanaian diaspora significantly shapes social, economic, and other developments both in their host societies and their homeland. Overall, it is clear that unlike Cohen, Akyeampong gives more attention to the links between practices in the New African diasporas and the African homelands as well as more emphasis to the theme of change in his analysis.63

In the most recent relevant work, Falola, downplaying Zeleza’s warning against centralizing the Atlantic in the study of the African diasporas, addresses the Americas and draws most of his examples from the interactions between Africa and the United States. He also stresses diverse topics including slavery, the impact of Africans on American cultures, the linkages between the diaspora and Africa, and emerging ideas on the new generation of African immigrants that he refers to as the “transnationalist diaspora.” Falola’s central thesis is that the New African diaspora in the United States, particularly the new Yoruba diaspora, created powerful networks that brought together many people who used them to exchange ideas and for other far-reaching purposes, including for the production of numerous academic and cultural works on Africa and the United States that resonate across space. By advancing such arguments and by embracing an approach that partly links past history to present politics and ties the formation of identities to experiences of displacement, Falola successfully centers the new Yoruba diaspora in the study of the African diasporas in the United States.64

Discussion of the Literature

At this stage, it is necessary to assess the characteristics and value of the historiographical trends and the gaps in the historiography. The first striking feature is that although extant works have extended substantially our knowledge and understanding of the African diasporas, there is still no firm definition of the term “African diaspora.” In the face of so many definitions of the concept, it would be negligent not to continue to seek a firm definition. In so doing, there is a need to sustain discussion of relevant issues such as the methodology for the study of the African diaspora.

The second striking feature is the concentration by most studies dealing separately with the Old and New African diasporas as well as with most of those dealing with both the Old and New African diasporas on the Americas (especially on traditional locations such as the United States and Brazil) and on the Atlantic slave trade era. This implies that a vast part of the world outside the Americas in which African diasporas existed have been understudied during all relevant periods of history and that relatively little is still known about the contemporary African diasporas even in traditional locations such as the United States. There is therefore room for a wide range of research on African diasporas located outside the Americas in all relevant periods and for more studies on the contemporary African diasporas in the Americas. For instance, despite some encouraging studies on the African diasporas in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean regions of the world, there is certainly room for more local, national, and regional studies that examine themes related to both the historical and contemporary African diasporas that have either been previously ignored or understudied, such as the ideas of peoples of African origins about borders and nations, the experiences of women of African origin, how people of African descent imagine their lives, the free African merchant diasporas, the identities of people of African descent, and the use of Islam and other religions by people of African descent. Similarly, as Falola rightly notes, despite the fact that most works about the contemporary African diasporas concentrate on the United States, relatively little is still known about the current state of African American cultural politics in relation to the new diaspora, the collaboration and conflict between Africans and African Americans in the United States, and the generational question with regard to the New African diasporas.65 Until much more is known about the modern African diasporas in the United States and elsewhere, and until more local, national, and regional studies on the African diasporas in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean regions of the world on such themes identified above become available, it will be difficult to write a definitive history that either compares the African diaspora based on the systems of the slave trades within and outside of Africa, such as the intra-African, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, and Atlantic diasporas, or that more broadly links the history of peoples of African origins in Eurasia with the histories of both the African diasporas in the Americas and the internal African diasporas.

Although most of the extant works on the Americas concentrate on the Atlantic slave trade era, the history of the African diasporas in the Americas during this same era still provides fertile ground for further research. For instance, more studies that center on the lives, challenges, goals, and preoccupations of people of African descent (both free and enslaved) in non-traditional locations such as Venezuela, Costa Rica, Bolivia, colonial New Granada, and the Dominican Republic should be undertaken. Similarly, it would be remiss of scholars not to continue to produce more studies that (re)examine the interconnections of peoples of African descent in the Americas outside of national contexts.

Scholars still have much work to do on the subject in order to maintain Africa as a focus and in order to remain at the forefront of research and publication on the African diasporas in general. Firstly, they will need to do considerable research on the internal African diasporas. In this regard, research on trading diasporas should be broadened geographically to include ethnic minority communities outside of West Africa. There is also room for additional studies on several relevant issues, including the relationships between internal diaspora communities and their host societies, the connections among African regions in which diasporic communities are located, and the overseas influence on internal African diasporas and on Africa in general. Moreover, to add depth to their works on the internal African diaspora and on Africa in general, Africanist historians will need to include more cross-references and comparisons with relevant works. In other words, to continue to check the oversimplification of Africa by most analysts of the African diasporas, they will need to produce more works of broad scope and interregional linkage. Secondly, they will need to focus more research on the lives, experiences, and goals of the New African diasporas in the United States and elsewhere. Thirdly, they will need to produce more literature based on the “African lens” that focuses on both the Old and New African diasporas at the same time. For instance, it will be relevant to situate more ethnic diasporas within the framework that Falola uses in his study of both the historical and contemporary dimensions of the Yoruba diasporas. Fourthly, they will need to continue to gather and analyze biographical and other data that will allow them to either dispense with a generalized notion of a “traditional” African background for people of African descent in the Americas, or to better describe the lives and experiences of all peoples of African descent based outside their homelands. In this regard, scholars need to pay more attention to data located in various places outside the continent. It will be relevant to look at such materials through an “African lens.” However, in order to look at them through such a lens, scholars should either pay more attention to learning languages suited especially to non-English-speaking parts of the world or to fostering research and curriculum agendas that would allow their graduate students to master and use such languages in conducting relevant research. To facilitate looking at more materials located outside Africa in general and to shift the debate in terms of linguistic, geographical, and racial referents, however, greater involvement by African scholars in African diaspora studies is crucial, as has been suggested elsewhere.

Primary Sources

Primary sources on the African diasporas take many different forms, such as newspapers, letters, census records, ship records, legal documents, and financial records. Many of these records are located in archives in different parts of the world. For instance, a historian interested in studying the contemporary Hausa diaspora in the Ibadan will need to visit important repositories in various parts of Nigeria, especially the two state-owned archives located in Kaduna and Ibadan. In addition to visiting such repositories, scholars can use databases of relevant African diaspora records for their research. Among the institutions providing these African diaspora databases are Emory University and York University. The relevant database at Emory University includes data on slave trading voyages, while that of York University includes collections that are relevant to the study of the diaspora and its African or more specifically its “Nigerian” origins. Among the collections at York University is the oral data recorded in 1975 by a team of scholars led by Jan Hogendorn and Paul Lovejoy. The oral data is important because it is based on testimonies of former slaves, the sons and daughters of slaves, and the families of plantation owners and their assistants. It is also important because it contains valuable information on the economic history of the Sokoto caliphate and on the related internal Central Sudan diasporas. The oral data in the relevant York University database is in the Hausa language, although the database also contains materials related to the subject in other languages including Arabic and English. A student or scholar interested in investigating the history of the historic Hausa diasporas in the Americas may need to combine many such sources and primary sources from regions outside Africa, especially the Americas.

There are many memoirs, autobiographies, and non-fiction accounts that clearly address the theme of the African diaspora. Some of these resources have featured in a number of printed monographs. Examples of such resources include Nicholas Sa’id’s The Autobiography of Nicholas Said: A Native of Bornou, Eastern Sudan, Central Africa (Memphis, TN: Shortwell & Co., 1873); Olaudah Equiano’s The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African written by himself (London: printed and sold for the author, 1789); Robin Law and Paul E. Lovejoy’s The Biography of Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua: His Passage from Slavery to Freedom in Africa and America (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2001); Juan Francisco Manzano’s The Life and Poems of a Cuban Slave: Juan Francisco Manzano, 1797–1854 (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1981); and Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” (New York: Amistad, 2018). Scholars can also be pointed to some important published accounts by ship’s captains and firsthand accounts of voyages and travels that have engaged with the themes of the African diaspora directly. Examples of such accounts include the Great Britain House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth Century, edited by Sheila Lambert (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1974), Alexander Falconbridge’s An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa (London: J. Philips, 1788), and Dieudonne Richon’s Pierre-Ignace-Lievin van Alstein, caiptaine negrier, Grand 1733—Nantes 1793, 2nd ed. (Dakar: Institut français d'Afrique noire Limog, 1964). Finally, scholars can draw on several novels for research on the African diaspora. Such novels include Ayi Kwei Armah’s Two Thousand Seasons (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1973), Sandra Jackson-Opoku’s The River Where Blood Is Born (New York: Ballantine Books, 1997), and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1982).

Further Reading

Akyeampong, Emmanuel. “Africans in the Diaspora: The Diaspora and Africa.” African Affairs 99, no. 395 (2000): 183–215.Find this resource:

Alpers, Edward A. “The African Diaspora in the Northwestern Indian Ocean: Reconsideration of an Old Problem, New Directions for Research.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 17, no. 2 (1997): 62–81.Find this resource:

Alpers, Edward A. “Defining the African Diaspora.” Paper presented to the Center for Comparative Social Analysis Workshop, October 25, 2001.Find this resource:

Campbell, James T. Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1785–2005. New York: Penguin Press, 2006.Find this resource:

Clark, Darlene Hine, and Jacqueline McLeod, eds. Crossing Boundaries: Comparative History of Black People in Diaspora. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.Find this resource:

Cohen, Robin. Global Diasporas: An Introduction. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997.Find this resource:

Curtin, Philip D. “The African Diaspora.” Historical Reflections 6, no. 1 (1979): 1–17.Find this resource:

Falola, Toyin. The African Diaspora: Slavery, Modernity, and Globalization. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Falola, Toyin, and Adebayo Oyebade, eds. The New African Diaspora in the United States. New York: Routledge, 2016.Find this resource:

Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.Find this resource:

Gomez, Michael A. Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diaspora. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

Gomez, Michael A., ed. Diasporic Africa: A Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2006.Find this resource:

Harper, Jim C. II, Charles D. Johnson, Tony A. Frazier, and Jarvis L. Hargrove, eds. Topics in African Diaspora History. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 2016.Find this resource:

Harris, Joseph. “Introduction to the African Diaspora.” In Emerging Themes of African History, edited by T. O. Rangers, 147–151. Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau, 1968.Find this resource:

Harris, Joseph E., ed. Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1982.Find this resource:

Hunwick, John O., and Eve Troutt Powell. The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of Islam. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2002.Find this resource:

Jalloh, Alusine, and Stephen E. Maizlish. The African Diaspora. Arlington: Texas A&M University Press, 1996.Find this resource:

Jayasuriya, Shihan de S., and Richard Pankhurst, eds. The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean. Trenton, NJ: African World Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Kilson, Martin L., and Robert I. Rotberg, eds. The African Diaspora: Interpretive Essays. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1976.Find this resource:

Lovejoy, Paul E. “The African Diaspora: Revisionist Interpretations of Ethnicity, Culture and Religion Under Slavery.” Studies in the World History of Slavery, Abolition, and Emancipation 2, no. 1 (1997): 1–21.Find this resource:

Lovejoy, Paul E., and David V. Trotman. Trans-Atlantic Dimension of Ethnicity in the African Diaspora. London: Continuum, 2003.Find this resource:

Mann, Kristin, and Edna G. Bay, eds. Rethinking the African Diaspora: The Making of a Black Atlantic World in the Bight of Benin and Brazil. London: Frank Cass, 2001.Find this resource:

Manning, Patrick. The African Diaspora: A History Through Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.Find this resource:

Mirzai, Behnaz A., Ismael Musah Montana, and Paul E. Lovejoy, eds. Slavery, Islam and Diaspora. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2009.Find this resource:

Okpewho, Isidore, Carole Boyce Davies, and Ali A. Mazrui, eds. The African Diaspora: African Origins and New World Identities. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.Find this resource:

Okpewho, Isidore, and Nkiru Nzegwu, eds. The New African Diaspora. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.Find this resource:

Palmer, Colin. “Defining and Studying the Modern African Diaspora.” Perspectives: American Historical Association Newsletter 36, no. 6 (September 1998): 1, 22–25.Find this resource:

Patterson, Tiffany Ruby, and Robin D. G. Kelley. “Unfinished Migrations: Reflections on the African Diaspora and the Making of the Modern World.” African Studies Review 43, no. 1 (2000): 11–45.Find this resource:

Shepperson, George. “The Africans Abroad or the African Diaspora.” In Emerging Themes of African History. Edited by T. O. Rangers, 152–176. Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau, 1968.Find this resource:

Wilson, Carlton. “Conceptualizing the African Diaspora.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East 17, no. 2 (1997): 118–122.Find this resource:

Zeleza, Paul T. “Africa Diasporas: Towards a Global History.” African Studies Review 53, no. 1 (2010): 10.Find this resource:


(2.) Mathew S. Hopper, Slaves and Masters: Globalization and Slavery in Arabia in the Age of Empire (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 2015).

(3.) For relevant estimates of the slaves involved, see, for instance, “The Mediterranean Slave Trade Out of Africa: A Tentative Census,” Slavery and Abolition 13 (1992): 214–248.

(4.) Paul E. Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983); and Hopper, Slaves and Masters, 13.

(6.) Olufemi Vaughan, “Africa, Transnationalism, and Globalization: An Overview,” in Transnational Africa and Globalization, ed. Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome and Olufemi Vaughan (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 20.

(8.) Frank Tannenbaum, Slave and Citizen (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947).

(10.) W. E. B. Du Bois, The Negro (New York: Home University Library of Modern Knowledge, 1915); and Melville J. Herskovits, The Myth of the Negro Past (New York: Harpers and Brothers, 1941).

(11.) Shepperson, “Introduction”; Shepperson, “African Diaspora: Concept and Context”; Harris, “Introduction to the African Diaspora”; and Shepperson, “The African Abroad or the African Diaspora.”

(12.) Tony Martin, “Garvey and Scattered Africa,” in Global Dimensions, ed. Harris, 243–249.

(14.) Jalloh and Maizlish, eds., The African Diaspora.

(18.) Colin Palmer, “The African Diaspora,” The Black Scholar 30, no. 34 (2001): 56–59; and Palmer, “Defining and Studying the Modern African Diaspora.”

(19.) Michael A. Gomez, Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diaspora (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Kim Butler, “Clio and the Groit: The African Diaspora in the Discipline of History,” in The African Diaspora and the Disciplines, ed. Tejumola Olaniyan and James H. Sweet (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2010), 21–52; and Alpers, “Defining the African Diaspora”; and Pier M. Larson, “Horrid Journeying: Narratives of Enslavement and the Global African Diaspora,” Journal of World History 19, no. 4 (2008): 431–464.

(20.) Douglas B. Chambers, “He Is an African But Speaks Plain”: Historical Creolization in Eighteenth-Century Virginia” in The African Diaspora, ed. Jalloh, Alusine, and Stephen E. Maizlish (Arlington: Texas A&M University Press, 1996), 100–133; Dale T. Graden, “This City Has Too Many Slaves Joined Together”: The Abolitionist Crisis in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, 1848­–1856,” in. The African Diaspora, ed. Jalloh, Alusine, and Stephen E. Maizlish (Arlington, Texas A&M University Press, 1996), 134–149; and Jane Lander, “Cimarron Ethnicity and Cultural Adaptation in the Spanish Domains of the Circum-Caribbean, 1503–1763,” in Identity in the Shadow of Slavery, ed. Paul E. Lovejoy (London and New York: Continuum, 2000), 30–54.

(21.) Renee Soulodre-La France, ‘I, Francisco Castaneda, Negro Esclavo Caravali: Caravali Ethnicity in Colonial New Granada,” in Trans-Atlantic Dimensions of Ethnicity in the African Diaspora, ed. Paul E. Lovejoy and David Trotman (London, Continuum, 2003), 96–114; Rina caceres Gomez, “On the frontiers of the African Diaspora in Central America: The African Origins of San Fernando de Omoa,” in Trans-Atlantic Dimensions of Ethnicity in the African Diaspora, ed. Paul E. Lovejoy and David Trotman (London, Continuum, 2003), 115–138.

(23.) Lilian Aschraft Eason, “She Voluntarily Hath Come’: A Gambian Woman Trader in Colonial Georgia in the Eighteenth Century,” in Identity in the Shadow of Slavery, ed. Paul E. Lovejoy (London and New York: Continuum, 2000), 202–221.

(24.) See, for instance, Joseph E. Inikori, Forced Migration (New York: Africana, 1982).

(25.) Wendy Wilson Fall, Memories of Madagascar and Slavery in the Black Atlantic (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2015).

(26.) See, for instance, Manolo Florentino, Em Costas negras: Uma historia do trafico de escravos entre a Africa e o Rio de Janeiro (seculos XVIII e XIX) (Sao Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1997).

(27.) See especially Eltis David, Behrendt Stephen D., Richardson David, and Klein Herbert S. et al., The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

(28.) James H. Sweet, Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African Portuguese World, 1441–1770: Recreating Africa (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 2003). Other scholars also stress cultural continuity, for example Kwasi Konadu, The Akan Diaspora in the Americas (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). However, unlike Sweet, he stresses the formation of a composite culture by the Akan and two other things: how this culture did not change overtime and the 21st century implications of the composite Akan culture formed originally in about the 15th century.

(29.) Walter Hawthorne, From Africa to Brazil: Culture, Identity, and Atlantic Slave Trade, 1600–1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

(30.) Joao Jose Reis, Slave Rebellion in Brazil: Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995).

(31.) Paul E. Lovejoy, “Background to rebellion: The Origins of Muslim Slaves in Bahia,” Slavery and Abolition 15, no. 2 (1994): 151–180; and Manuel Barcia, West African Warfare in Bahia and Cuba: Soldier Slaves in the Atlantic World, 1807–1844 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

(32.) T. J. Desch-Obi, Fighting for Honor: The History of African Martial Arts in the Atlantic World (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

(33.) Darlene Clark Hine and Kathleen Thompson, A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America (New York: Broadway Books, 1998).

(34.) Jack S. Blocker Jr., “Wages of Migration: Jobs and Homeownership among Black and White Workers in Muncie, Indiana, 1920,” in The African Diaspora in the United States and Canada at the Dawn of the 21st Century, ed. John W. Frazier, Joe T. Darden, and Norah F. Henry (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010), 115–139; Lorrin Thomas, “Puerto Ricans in the Harlem Riot of 1935,” in The African Americans: The African Diaspora in the Cultures of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States, ed. Persephone Braham (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2014), 47–56; and Paulina L. Alberto, “Rethinking ‘Racial Democracy’: Perspectives from Black Thinkers in Twentieth-Century Brazil,” in The African Americans, ed. Braham, 57–70.

(35.) Manning, “Africa and the African Diaspora,” 501.

(37.) John O. Hunwick, “Black Africans in the Islamic World: An Under-Studied Dimension of the Black Diaspora,”Tarikh 5, no. 4 (1978): 20–40; and John Hunwick and Eve Troutt Powell, The African Diaspora in the Mediterranean Lands of Islam (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2002).

(38.) Hopper, Slave of One Master.

(39.) Edward A. Alpers, “The African Diaspora in the Northwestern Indian Ocean: Reconsideration of an Old Problem, New Directions for Research,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 17, no. 2 (1997): 62–81; Edward Alpers, “Recollecting Africa: Diasporic Memory in the Indian Ocean World,” African Studies Review 43, no. 1 (2000): 83–99; Shihan de S. Jayasuriya and Richard Pankhurst, eds., The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean (Trenton, NJ: African World Press, 2003); Richard Pankhurst, “The Ethiopian Diaspora to India: the Role of Habshis and Sidis from Medieval Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century,” in The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean, ed. Jayasuriya and Pankhurst, 189–222; Edward Alpers, “The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean: a Comparative Perspective,” in The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean, ed. Jayasuriya and Pankhurst, 19–52; Helen Basu, “Slave, Soldier, Trader, Faqir: Fragments of African Histories in Western India,” in The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean, ed. Jayasuriya and Pankhurst, 223–250; and Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya, “The African Diaspora in Sri Lanka,” in The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean, ed. Jayasuriya and Pankhurst, 251–288.

(41.) Mirzai, A History of Slavery and Emancipation in Iran, 1800–1929 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2017).

(42.) Ismael Musah Montana, “The Bori Colonies of Tunis,” in Slavery, Islam and Diaspora, ed. Mirzai, Montana and Lovejoy, 155–168.

(43.) Chouki el Hamel, Black Morocco: A History of Slavery, Race and Islam (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

(44.) Patrick Harries, Work, Culture, and Identity: Migrant Laborers in Mozambique and South Africa c. 1860–1910 (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1994).

(45.) On liberated Africans, see, for instance, Suzanne Schwarz, “Reconstructing the Life Histories of Liberated Africans: Sierra Leone in the Early Nineteenth Century,” History in Africa 39 (2012): 175–207.

(46.) Alusine Jalloh, “The Fula Trading Diaspora in Colonial Sierra Leone,” in The African Diaspora, ed. Jalloh and Maizlish, 22–38.

(47.) S. Y. Boadi-Siaw, “Brazilian Returnees of West Africa,” in Global Dimensions, ed. Harris, 291–308.

(48.) Akanmu Adebayo, “The New African Diaspora: Engaging the Question of Brain Drain–Brain Gain,” Journal of Global Initiatives: Policy, Pedagogy, Perspective 6, no. 1 (2011): 61–89.

(49.) Special issue of African Issues 30, 1. The African “Brain Drain” to the North: Pitfalls and Possibilities (2002) edited by Paul Tiyambe Zeleza and Cassandra R. Veney.

(50.) Vaughan, “Africa, Transnationalism, and Globalization.”

(51.) Baffour K. Takyi, “Africans Abroad: Comparative Perspectives on America’s Postcolonial West Africans,” in The New African Diaspora, ed. Okpewho and Nzegwu.

(53.) Michelle C. Johnson, “’The Proof is on my Palm’: Debating Ethnicity, Islam and Ritual in a New African Diaspora,” Journal of Religion in Africa 36, no. 1 (2006): 50–77.

(54.) Adebayo Oyebade, “African Immigrants and their Churches,” in The New African Diaspora in the United States, ed. Falola and Oyebade, 41–58.

(55.) Mary Johnson Osirim, “African Women in the New Diaspora: Transnationalism and the (Re) Creation of Home,” African and Asian Studies 7, no. 1 (2008): 367–394; and Adenike Yesufu, “The Gender Dimensions of the Immigrant Experience: The Case of African-Canadian Women in Edmonton,” in The African Diaspora in Canada: Negotiating Identity and Belonging, ed. Wisdom Tettey and Korbla P. Puplampu (Alberta: University of Calgary Press, 2005), 133–146.

(56.) Joseph O. Akinbi, “Contemporary Migrations of Nigerians to the United States,” in The New African Diaspora in the United States, ed. Falola and Adebayo Oyebade, 98–104.

(57.) N. Blyden and F. A. Akiwumi, “A Perspective of the African Diaspora in the United States,” in The African Diaspora in the United States and Canada at the Dawn of the 21st Century, ed. John W. Frazier, Joe T. Darden, and Norah F. Henry (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010), 93–108.

(58.) Rima Bens McGown, Muslims in Diaspora: The Somali Communities of London and Toronto (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999).

(59.) Gilroy, The Black Atlantic.

(60.) Patrick Manning, The African Diaspora: A History Through Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).

(61.) Paul T. Zeleza, “Rewriting the African Diaspora: Beyond the Black Atlantic,” African Affairs 104, no. 414 (2005): 35–68.

(62.) Cohen, Global Diasporas.

(63.) Akyeampong, “Africans in the Diaspora: The Diaspora and Africa.”

(65.) Falola, The African Diaspora: Slavery, Modernity, and Globalization, 24–25.