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Elmina as Postcolonial Space: Transoceanic Creolization and the Fabric of Memory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)994-1012
Number of pages19
Issue number8
Accepted/In press1 Jan 2020
PublishedNov 2020

King's Authors


The town of Elmina in Cape Coast, Ghana, is usually associated with the Elmina Castle as a key site within UNESCO’s Slave Route project, whereby tourism becomes the vehicle for remembering and mourning the memorial consequences of the Atlantic slave trade. Abutting the tourist-oriented Castle, however, is a crumbling yet lived-in urban space, in whose town planning and architecture we see evidence of another shaping force: creolization as the occluded other to slavery and colonialism within the story of Western Africa. Moreover, the town is also home to the Elmina Java Museum, which memorializes Elmina’s links to the Indian Ocean world, especially as invested in the textiles that moved between Africa and Asia during different phases of world history. Through this variegated postcolonial space of Elmina, I excavate sedimented histories of transoceanic creolization that connect the continent to both Atlantic and Indian Oceans. From this reading of Elmina through the lens of a transoceanic creolized past and its relationship to the present, I prise open the contours of postcolonial spatiality to propose for it a genealogy both radically compromised and promisingly porous.

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