Pub. Date:
Indiana University Press
Portuguese Style and Luso-African Identity: Precolonial Senegambia, Sixteenth-Nineteenth Centuries

Portuguese Style and Luso-African Identity: Precolonial Senegambia, Sixteenth-Nineteenth Centuries

by Peter A. MarkPeter A. Mark


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In this detailed history of domestic architecture in West Africa, Peter Mark shows how building styles are closely associated with social status and ethnic identity. Mark documents the ways in which local architecture was transformed by long-distance trade and complex social and cultural interactions between local Africans, African traders from the interior, and the Portuguese explorers and traders who settled in the Senegambia region. What came to be known as "Portuguese" style symbolized the wealth and power of Luso-Africans, who identified themselves as "Portuguese" so they could be distinguished from their African neighbors. They were traders, spoke Creole, and practiced Christianity. But what did this mean? Drawing from travelers’ accounts, maps, engravings, paintings, and photographs, Mark argues that both the style of "Portuguese" houses and the identity of those who lived in them were extremely fluid. "Portuguese" Style and Luso-African Identity sheds light on the dynamic relationship between identity formation, social change, and material culture in West Africa.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253215529
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 12/01/2002
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Peter Mark is Professor of Art History at Wesleyan University. He is author of The Wild Bull and the Sacred Forest and A Cultural, Economic, and Religious History of the Basse Casamance since 1500.

Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:


1. The Evolution of "Portuguese" Identity: Luso-Africans on the Upper Guinea Coast from the 16th to the Early 19th-Century
2. Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century Architecture in the Gambia-Geba Region and the Articulation of Luso-African Ethnicity
3. Reconstructing West African Architectural History: Images of Seventeenth-Century "Portuguese" Style Houses in Brazil
4. "The People There Are Beginning to Take on English Manners": Mixed Manners in Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth-Century Gambia
5. Senegambia from the Mid-Eighteenth Century to the Mid-Nineteenth Century
6. Casamance Architecture from 1850 to the Establishment of Colonial Administration

Conclusions and Observations

What People are Saying About This

International Journal of African Historical Studies

"... [an] innovative work....[Mrak's] contribution contribution to architectural history and African studies...lies in his argument that identity is not a stable identifier based on fixed boundaries, but constitutes a continuously dynamic process."

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