Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

The African Diaspora: Slavery, Modernity, and Globalization

Academic journal article The International Journal of African Historical Studies

The African Diaspora: Slavery, Modernity, and Globalization

Article excerpt

The African Diaspora: Slavery, Modernity, and Globalization. By Toyin Falola. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2013. Pp. xiv, 481; maps, photographs, bibliography, index. $ 100.00.

The indefatigable Toyin Falola has now produced a set of essays on the African diaspora, focusing especially on how the earlier diaspora has been overlaid by a new diaspora from Africa. The insightful introduction, entitled "Old and New African Diaspora," sets the two great waves of transnational migration in relation to each other, identifying the modem networks that come out of them. Principal emphasis is on modem identities, especially the New African Diaspora as exemplified by the interaction of Nigeria and the new Yoruba diaspora in the United States

The work addresses a general audience: all who interact with the New Diaspora and especially cosmopolitan Africans at home and abroad. The author draws on his distinctive experience as a scholar and facilitator of scholarship on Africa. Falola, in addition to his several monographs on Nigeria in recent generations, has edited and co-edited some sixty volumes on recent African history and on Africa in the world. The volumes result especially from the many conferences he has organized at the University of Texas and in Nigeria. These publications highlight his own contributions yet reveal equally the diaspora-based networks of scholarship, cultural production, and enterprise within which he moves. Falola shows, implicitly, how he and others have relied on such networks to produce an impressive quantity of academic and cultural work on the United States, Nigeria, and Africa more broadly.

The four chapters of Part 1 interpret the development of black identities in the Old Diaspora, highlighting rapidly but forcefully the experiences of slavery, displacement, and the resultant cultural exchanges. Falola treats the 1839 Amistad rebellion as a turning point, after which assertiveness became more prominent among blacks in the United States and in Africa, as they responded to a century of "colonization of memory" and "colonization of spaces." He treats nationalism as a campaign of counter-colonization. This campaign led to the establishment of Black Studies in North American academic life and then to the "centralization of Africa" and the "intellectualization of Blackness" by a steadily expanding group of black scholars. To convey the varying scales of diaspora identity, Falola uses the terms roots, routes, and roofs, working from local identity to the encompassing pan-African scale.

The book's second section provides a historical introduction to modem Yoruba culture and identity. In a manner that focuses more on the imperial heritage of Oyo and British rule than on the earlier heritage of Ife, Falola traces Yoruba dispersal across the Atlantic in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, then turns to Nigeria, chronicling the formation of a coherent Yoruba identity in nineteenth-century Nigeria and under British colonial rule. …

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