Introduction: Interpreting West Africa’s Forts and Castles

  • John Kwadwo Osei-Tutu
  • Victoria Ellen Smith
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


This introduction to the collection provides a broad context for the presence of European forts and castles on the coast of West Africa and surveys the scholarly works that have been produced with the objective of documenting and interpreting their history. The editors argue that there is a need for new academic and popular understanding of the fortresses to emphasise their changing uses and impact on society and space within West Africa. Whilst it is made clear that the story of the trans-Atlantic slave trade must be told through reference to the forts and castles, it is argued that to assign buildings with the power of agency runs the risk of emotively shifting attention away from history’s real human perpetrators. In providing the thematic, theoretical and empirical context for the ten essays, details are provided on each chapter and connections are drawn between them. As an overarching position, it is stated that the aim of this collection is to invite readers to think about the centuries of activity that took place in and around these buildings before, during and after the trans-Atlantic slave trade.


trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Cape Coast Castle Christiansborg Castle Ghana Museums Trade Castles 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Kwadwo Osei-Tutu
    • 1
  • Victoria Ellen Smith
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Historical Studies, Norwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Department of History, University of GhanaLegonGhana

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