Toby Green, winner of the British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2019, discusses his groundbreaking history, A Fistful of Shells, in conversation with Zeinab Badawi. Drawing on fieldwork in eight African countries and archival research in nine countries, on art, praise-singers, oral history, archaeology, letters and the author’s personal experience, the book creates a new perspective on one of the world’s most important regions. It also explores how what was once a trade of equals between Africa and Europe gradually revolved around the slave trade, damaging Africa’s relative power as the terms of monetary exchange shifted drastically in Europe’s favour; yet as it depicts this important and little-studied history, it also places the African past within a wider context of the achievements of art and politics, and the global connections that have always characterised the continent.
Dr Toby Green, Senior Lecturer in Lusophone African History and Culture, King’s College London
Zeinab Badawi, Chair, Royal African Society
£5, £3 concessions
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Image: © A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution by Toby Green, Penguin, 2020, £10.99
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