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Africa and Its Diasporas under Slavery  

Walter Hawthorne

Diasporas result when people from the same place, real or imagined, migrate to another place, settle together, and produce new generations. African diasporas before 1900 resulted from forced migrations, spurred by the trade in enslaved people from the continent into the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, Red Sea, and across the Sahara Desert. The identities that Africans in diasporas professed and cultures that they created and recreated differed across time and space. Among the things that shaped African diasporic cultures were the nature of linkages to African homelands and the political, economic, religious, and social structures of the broader societies in which African diasporas were situated. These and other factors meant that African diasporas in Indian Ocean societies were very different from those in Atlantic Ocean societies. Generally, over time enslaved Africans in diaspora around the Indian Ocean sought to become part of broader cosmopolitan communities and did not associate themselves with an African homeland. Enslaved Africans in diaspora around the Atlantic Ocean built communities that were apart from those of their enslavers and identified with African homelands. However, in some periods, societies with slaves in the Americas offered opportunities for enslaved people to become part of dominant institutions, and some enslaved people could take advantage of those opportunities to forge new lives for themselves and others. Everywhere African diasporas formed, those people who composed them shaped local and global histories in ways that are evident today.


The Almohad Empire, c. 1120–1269  

Amira Bennison

The Almohad empire was founded during the mid-12th century by a militant religio-political movement that originated among the Maṣmūda tribes of the High Atlas Mountains in what is now Morocco. At its height, the empire extended across North Africa to modern Tunisia and also incorporated the southern parts of modern Spain and Portugal. The original religious leader of the movement was Muḥammad b. Tūmart, but the empire was ruled by a dynasty known as the Muʾminids after ʿAbd al-Muʾmin, Ibn Tūmart’s successor as leader of the Almohads. The empire was one of the largest Islamic political formations of its time and played an important role in the western Mediterranean and beyond prior to its demise in the mid-13th century. The empire was distinctive in several ways. The Almohads saw their interpretation of Islam as a revival of Muḥammad’s message to which all Abrahamic monotheists should convert, a radical position leading to a black myth that they were persecutors of religious minorities, although the limited reach of medieval government meant that they could not always implement their objectives. As a Maṣmūda-backed empire, the Almohads also promoted public use of the Maṣmūda language, one of the Berber or Amazigh family of languages, alongside Arabic, and created an imperial elite from across their empire. They are also famous for their promotion of new styles of urban architecture, especially their huge square-tower minarets, and for patronage of the arts and sciences at court, making the Almohad century one of intellectual ferment as well as religious and political change.


Arab Spring  

Ahmed Abushouk

The phrase “Arab Spring,” “Arab Awakening,” or “Arab Uprisings” refers to the series of prodemocracy protests and demonstrations that erupted in the Arab world. It began in Tunisia in 2010 and spread to other countries, most notably Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, in 2011. The demonstrators expressed their political and economic grievances and called for regime change: “The people want to bring down the regime.” Under the increasing pressure of the mass protests, Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (r. 1978–2011) fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14, 2011; Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak (r. 1981–2011) resigned on February 11, 2011; Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (r. 1969–2011) was deposed on August 23, 2011, and killed on October 20, 2011, in his hometown of Sirte after the National Transitional Council took control of the city; and Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh (r. 1990–2012) resigned in favor of his vice president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Hadi became president for a two-year transitional period on February 25, 2012, but Yemen remained deeply divided between government supporters and the Houthi rebels who killed Saleh on December 4, 2017, in Sanaa. This change of leadership did not improve the political and economic situation in the Arab Spring countries but rather led to a contentious struggle between remnants of the old regimes and prodemocracy supporters, which finally turned into devastating civil wars in Syria, Libya, and Yemen. The second wave of the Arab Spring took place in Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, and Lebanon, confirming the persistent conditions that led to the outbreak of the first wave against tyranny and exploitation in the early 2010s. The two waves of the Arab Spring have drawn global attention. Tawakkol Karman was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her role in organizing peaceful protests in Yemen. Spanish photographer Samuel Aranda won the 2011 World Press Photo Award for his photograph of a Yemeni woman carrying an injured family member, taken during the civil uprising in Yemen.


Archaeology of Caves along the East African Coast  

Ceri Shipton and Jim Crowther

Caves in uplifted limestone running from southern Kenya to Zanzibar were occupied by hunter-gatherers since the late Middle Stone Age approximately eighty thousand years ago. At that age they were a novel setting for human occupation away from the savannah landscapes of the East African interior. One of these caves, Panga ya Saidi, has yielded the earliest evidence for the Later Stone Age (LSA) anywhere in Africa, beginning sixty-seven thousand years ago. This cave is one of the only sites in Africa to have repeated human occupation throughout the major climatic fluctuations of the last eighty thousand years, a situation facilitated by its ecotonal and near-coastal setting. The rising sea levels after twenty thousand years ago saw more widespread coastal occupations including of Kuumbi Cave on Zanzibar, which was at that time joined to the mainland. A major transition in the occupation histories of the caves occurs in the late 1st millennium ce, with Iron Age ceramics appearing at many cave sites on the mainland coast and offshore islands, where they become increasingly prevalent into the 2nd millennium. The colonization of offshore islands occurs alongside the first definitive evidence for human occupation in Madagascar, including foragers living in cave sites. On both the mainland and offshore islands a continuing tradition of stone tool manufacture persists with the occasional use of domestic crops and livestock, demonstrating interactions between foraging and early farming communities. Glass beads show the cave occupants became part of Indian Ocean trade networks, likely exchanging forest products with Swahili merchants. Ancient DNA analysis indicates the survival of ancient hunter-gatherer ancestry well into the 2nd millennium ce. In the early 21st century, many of these caves are venerated as places of the ancestors and other spirit beings.


A Relational Approach to Risk Communication  

Jing Zhu and Raul P. Lejano

It is instructive to juxtapose two contrasting models of risk communication. The first views risk communication as a product that is packaged and transmitted, unmodified and intact, to a passive public. The second, a relational approach, views it as a process in which experts, the public, and agencies engage in open communication, regarding the public as an equal partner in risk communication. The second model has the benefit of taking advantage of the public’s local knowledge and ability to engage in risk communication themselves. Risk communication should be understood as more of a dynamic process, and less of a packaged object. An example of the relational model is found in Bangladesh’s Cyclone Preparedness Programme, which has incorporated the relational model in its disaster risk reduction training for community volunteers. Nevertheless, the two contrasting models, in practice, are never mutually exclusive, and both are needed for effective disaster risk prevention.


Bori Religion in West Africa  

Kari B. Henquinet

Bori is a religious tradition with origins in West Africa dating to at least 1500 ce. Based on oral histories, ethnographies, archaeological analysis, and limited written sources, its origins lie in complex, syncretic blendings of pre-Islamic Arna (Maguzawa) religious traditions, Hausa aristocracies, and Islam throughout what became Northern Nigeria and south-central Niger over many centuries. Bori practitioners have special knowledge of the spirit world and thus are skilled at healing spirit-induced illnesses or interpreting communal problems with a spiritual basis. Individuals are frequently initiated into Bori as they seek healing but also sometimes through their heritage. Once initiated, Bori adepts learn to live with their spirits for the rest of their lives, inviting spirits to possess them during ceremonial rituals. Bori specialists are more prominent in areas heavily influenced by Arna traditions or Hausa aristocracies that maintained special leadership positions connected to Bori for the protection of the kingdom. Women have often found opportunities for power and prestige through Bori in a patriarchal society, although in some regions, men dominate religious leadership and healing practices in Bori. From the early 19th century, Bori was condemned and banned in the Sokoto caliphate and subsequently under British rule in Nigeria. Nevertheless, it persisted in these areas and especially flourished in regions of Hausaland outside of the caliphate, where historical practices of Hausa kingdoms and Arna religion were practiced more openly and centrally in society. Over the course of the 20th century, Bori has been studied by researchers not only in these regions of West Africa but also among diasporic communities and pilgrims with ties to West Africa.


Central Italo-Romance (Including Standard Italian)  

Elisa De Roberto

Central Italo-Romance includes Standard Italian and the Tuscan dialects, the dialects of the mediana and perimediana areas, as well as Corsican. This macro-area reaches as far north as the Carrara–Senigallia line and as far south as the line running from Circeo in Lazio to the mouth of the Aso river in Le Marche, cutting through Ceprano, Sora, Avezzano, L’Aquila and Accumoli. It is made up of two main subareas: the perimediana dialect area, covering Perugia, Ancona, northeastern Umbria, and Lazio north of Rome, where varieties show greater structural proximity to Tuscan, and the mediana area (central Le Marche, Umbria, central-eastern Lazio varieties, the Sabine or Aquilano-Cicolano-Reatino dialect group). Our description focuses on the shared and diverging features of these groups, with particular reference to phonology, morphology, and syntax.


Chinese Images of Africa  

Tara Mock

The African continent and the People’s Republic of China have maintained relations throughout much of the last millenium and beyond. The earliest known depictions of Africanity were informed by broad notions of difference that enveloped those originating from outside the known limits of Chinese society. The trajectory of Chinese racial consciousness formed during the Tang (618–907) and Song (960–1279) dynasties, as examples, cast African people and spaces as culturally different to the point of inferior. Though an influx of nonnative visitors to the middle kingdom hastened development of Han identity, the contemporary framing and tone of China’s relationship with the continent, and the individual polities within it, differs greatly from these earliest depictions of African people. During the “solidarity” period of the 1950s–1970s, negative feelings toward the African “other” were subverted as a result of Mao Zedong’s desire to unite revolutionary forces in the Global South against a common threat of imperialism. Contemporary Africa-China relations (2000–) since the First Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) signal a moment of confusion, whereby Chinese depictions of Africa reflect both unity and disharmony, as synergistic images of Afro-Chinese friendship, brotherhood, and solidarity cultivated during the 1950s–1970s are diffused by competing images of racial difference from nonstate actors reminicent of the Tang and Song dynasties.


Climate Change and Coastal Processes in the Baltic Sea  

Tarmo Soomere

Various manifestations of climate change have led to complicated patterns of reactions of the Baltic Sea shores to varying hydrodynamic drivers. The northern and western bedrock and limestone coasts of this young water body experience postglacial uplift that is faster than the global sea-level rise. These coastal segments are thus insensitive with respect to changes in hydrodynamic forcing. Sedimentary and easily erodible coasts of the westernmost, southern, and eastern shores of this water body evolve under the impact of relative sea-level rise, changing wave properties and gradual loss of sea ice in conditions of chronic deficit of fine sediment. Several classic features of coastal processes, such as the cut-and-fill cycle of beaches, are substantially modified in many coastal sections. Waves approaching the shore systematically at large angles drive massive alongshore sediment transport in many coastal segments. This transport has led to the development of large sand spits and many relict lakes separated from the sea by coastal barriers. The concept of closure depth is reinterpreted because of frequent synchronization of strong waves and elevated water levels. The gradual loss of sea ice cover endangers most seriously coastal systems around the latitudes of the Gulf of Finland (about 60°N). The combined influence of climatically controlled sea-level rise and intense wave action leads to a gradual increase in eroding sections and the acceleration of coastal retreat on the southern downlifting shores of Poland and Germany. The bidirectional wind forcing has created a delicate balance of sediment on the shores of Latvia and Lithuania. This balance is vulnerable with respect to changes in strong wind directions. The sedimentary shores of Estonia host a number of small beaches that are geometrically protected against typical strong wind directions but are sensitive with respect to storms from unusual directions. Numerical analysis of sediment transport patterns along the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea has identified major changes in the wave directions in the Baltic Proper that can be attributed to manifestations of climate change.


Climate Change and Corporate Strategies  

Christopher Wright, Daniel Nyberg, and Vanessa Bowden

Corporations play a central role in the political economy of climate change. Since the Industrial Revolution, corporations have been the major producers of carbon emissions. More specifically, companies within the fossil-fuel sector have over time hampered action and legislation to mitigate climate change. Through public relations and corporate political activities, the fossil-fuel sector has implemented strategies to deny the science of climate change and delay urgent action to mitigate its worst effects. However, national governments and international organizations also turn to corporations for innovative solutions to address a worsening climate crisis, and in recent years many corporations have engaged with this issue to a greater degree, emphasizing strategic concern for climate change in terms of risk and opportunity. Key examples include companies developing “green” technologies and products, eco-efficiency initiatives, the uptake of renewable energy, and an increased awareness of the physical risk of climate-induced extreme weather events threatening operations and infrastructure. This has included corporate commitments to “net-zero” emissions by, for example, 2050. However, the long-term timeframes and lack of detail of these commitments indicate that this strategy is foremost geared toward delaying a transition to alternative economic organizations that are better equipped to deal with decarbonization. These corporate commitments to future change constitute a form of “predatory delay” in defending current practice and appealing to the idea that systemic government intervention is not needed. Overall, corporations have promoted the idea that climate change as a problem of excessive consumption can be solved by further consumption, albeit framed within the innovative capacities of “greener” business and technological innovation.