The Slave and the Scholar: Representing Africa in the World from Early Modern Tripoli to Borno (N. Nigeria)

Remi Dewiere*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

The Borno sultanate in present-day Nigeria was an early modern Islamic state at the crossroad of regional, transregional and global networks. Sahelian pilgrims, North African scholars, European slaves, Saharan nomads and Turkish mercenaries would travel to its capital, connecting it with West Africa, the Mediterranean World and the Middle East. How do we assess Borno’s integration in the global early modern world from a plural perspective, both from the inside and the outside? Using the narratives of Aḥmad b. Furṭū, a sixteenth century Borno scholar living in the sultan’s court, and of Pierre Girard, a French slave in seventeenth century Tripoli, Libya, I will interrogate the idea of globality from a Borno-centered representation of the world. The mental mapping of these narratives raises a yet unanswered question in the field of early modern history: How can we conceive global history from an African point of view?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-58
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Early Modern History
Volume27
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2023

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