Every House Has a Story: The Archaeology of Gorée Island, Sénégal

by Ibrahima Thiaw

Abstract from "Every house has a story". Presented at the south-south workshop on the trans-Atlantic construction of the notions of “race”, black culture, blackness and antiracism. 11-17 November, 2002, Gorée Island, Senegal.

Gorée Island is one of the most controversial sites in coastal Western Africa. The island’s role and significance in the Atlantic commerce is a source of profound difference of opinion among historians with far reaching consequences on Senegalese and Panafrican popular cultures. This results in a politically charged debate enmeshed in memory discourses in which race and identity resonate with a unique intensity. While classic historical reconstructions emphasize the number of slaves who transited on the island, to evaluate the significance of Gorée in the formation of the Atlantic World recent archaeological evidence re-centers the debate on material culture and settlement patterns to reevaluate the nature and consequences of Atlantic contact on patterns of culture contact and interactions within the island.

The full article will be published in a conference proceedings by African World Press (2006)

Images from "Every House Has a Story..."

Figure 1.

Figure 2.

Figure 3.
Figure 3. Early 18th c. map of Gorée

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Plate 1.

Plate 2.