Deep Roots

Deep Roots

Rice Farmers in West Africa and the African Diaspora
Edda L. Fields-Black
Distribution: World
Publication date: 07/11/2014
Format: Paperback 20 b&w photos, 5 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-01610-2
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Mangrove rice farming on West Africa's Rice Coast was the mirror image of tidewater rice plantations worked by enslaved Africans in 18th-century South Carolina and Georgia. This book reconstructs the development of rice-growing technology among the Baga and Nalu of coastal Guinea, beginning more than a millennium before the transatlantic slave trade. It reveals a picture of dynamic pre-colonial coastal societies, quite unlike the static, homogenous pre-modern Africa of previous scholarship. From its examination of inheritance, innovation, and borrowing, Deep Roots fashions a theory of cultural change that encompasses the diversity of communities, cultures, and forms of expression in Africa and the African diaspora.

Author Bio

Edda L. Fields-Black is an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, specializing in pre-colonial and West African history. With research interests extending into the African diaspora, for more than 15 years Fields-Black has traveled to and lived in Guinea, Sierra Leone, South Carolina, and Georgia to uncover the history of African rice farmers and rice cultures.


“An imaginative book . . . The writing is good and the ideas important.”
 — Judith Carney, author of Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas

“Fields-Black . . . offers important new insights into West African agricultural history and the dynamics of diasporic connections.”
 — LaRay Denzer, Northwestern University

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Table of Contents

List of Tables

1. The Rio Nunez Region: A Small Corner of West Africa's Rice Coast Region
2. The First-Comers and the Roots of Coastal Rice-growing Technology
3. The Newcomers and the Seeds of Tidal Rice-Growing Technology
4. Coastal Collaboration and Specialization: Flowering of Tidal Rice-Growing Technologies
5. The Strangers and the Branches of Coastal Rice-growing Technology, c.1500 to 1800
6. Feeding the Slave Trade: The Trade in Rice and Captives from West Africa's Rice Coast

Appendix I.1 Fieldwork Interviews
Appendix I.2 Rice Terminology in Atlantic Languages Spoken in the Coastal Rio Nunez Region

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