Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann

Cotsen Summer Scholar


Hidden Palimpsests: Unraveling Nineteenth Century Islamic Talismans in Asante, Ghana

Rachel Ama Asaa EngmannRachel Ama Asaa Engmann2012 Cotsen Summer ScholarRachel Ama Asaa Engmann2012 Cotsen Summer Scholar

Hidden Palimpsests chronicles the relationship between texts, material culture, religion, and empire. The backdrop is the West African Asante state; the place is Kumasi, the capital of Asante in present-day Ghana, West Africa. Engaging artifacts and manuscripts, this project establishes the complexity of two famed “empires,” Asante and British, not only as geopolitical entities, but also as culturally created and imaginatively constructed concepts. Employing archaeological ethnography and textual analysis, nineteenth-century Islamic talismans provide a potent lens through which to investigate the relationship between colonizer and colonized from the vantage of the indigenous perspective. Placing material and social practice at the center of an historical and contemporary analysis of West African Islam, this project explores the ways in which African knowledge, writing systems, secrecy, and consumption intersect with the politics of religion, ethnicity, and diaspora formation.

Affiliation at time of award:
PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University

Sponsored by UCLA Cotsen Institute of Archaeology

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