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Title: If walls had mouths : representations of the Anglo-Fante household and the domestic slave in nineteenth-century Cape Coast (Ghana)
Author: Smith, Victoria Ellen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 0341
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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The existence of indigenous slavery in the Gold Coast’s British settlements and the Fante wives of British officials were inconvenient truths of mid-nineteenth century Cape Coast. As such, they were marginalised within contemporary documents in favour of heroic narratives of thwarting the efforts of pirate slavers and outlawing the custom of human sacrifice. However, evidence reached London in 1839 that forced the British government to respond to rumours that merchants tasked to enforce British law were continuing to aid the slave trade. In 1841 Dr Madden was sent to the Gold Coast as Commissioner of Inquiry to investigate the claims. He found merchant magistrates engaging in domestic slavery and wrote a report to expose them in the hope of bringing about its abolition. In the absence of sufficient documentary evidence and with the aim of offering a voice to the marginalised historical residents of Cape Coast’s Anglo-Fante households, an interdisciplinary approach incorporating literary, historical and anthropological research has been developed. Previously undocumented family histories have been recorded and interpreted in the context provided by historiography, archival documents and literary works including plays, poetry, novels, and nineteenth-century memoirs. Having critically evaluated these sources in terms of the authorial motive, verifiable data and historical instability that are identifiable within oral and written memory, the accumulated evidence is employed to create an imaginative representation of Madden’s time on the Gold Coast. Within the narrative Madden visits the Fante wives of British officials - collectively referred to as the Principal Mulatto Females of the Gold Coast - to explore the existence of domestic slavery. This creative piece forms part of a wider historical and theoretical consideration of a slave-holding community that is publicly forgotten and privately remembered in Cape Coast society, and of the function of memory within the relationship between history and literature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DT Africa