Female Agency in a Cultural Confluence: Women, Trade and Politics in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Gold Coast

  • Kwabena Adu-Boahen
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


From the late fifteenth century, European traders operated from fortresses established along the West African coast. In their trading activities and in most social, political and general cultural communication, they dealt, almost exclusively, with the males inhabitants of the host indigenous communities. Documentation on European activities suggests limited women’s participation in trade and in most European–African interactions. But in West Africa there was a long tradition of female capacity for active involvement in trade and indigenous politics. Using empirical evidence, this chapter examines the extent and nature of female participation in trade and politics in the Gold Coast during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It argues that in spite of male control of the Atlantic capitalist economic system, some women in the Gold Coast exercised remarkable agency in terms of participation in trade and African political leaders’ relations with resident European traders.


Gold Coast Michelle Zimbalist Rosaldo Winneba West African Women Coast Women 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kwabena Adu-Boahen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of Cape CoastCape CoastGhana

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