P135
African Ivory; Connecting cosmopolitan spaces in a globalized Atlantic: trade, art and visual discourses

Convenors:
José da Silva Horta (Centro de História, Universidade de Lisboa)
Carlos Almeida (Centro de História da Universidade de Lisboa)
Stream:
Panels
Location:
KH209
Start time:
29 June, 2017 at 16:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

Ivory was always present in Euro-African relationship, closely linked to the Atlantic slave trade. From the 16th century, African ivory became an early form of global art. Production was made in cosmopolitan spaces where material culture of different continents interacted and hybridized.

Long abstract:

Ivory was always present in the relationship between Africans and Europeans, often closely linked to the slave trade. In the context of the emergence of a global trade, from the sixteenth century, accompanied by the movement of goods and people, ivory earns a new role as raw material, but also as artefact, becoming one of the earliest known forms of global art. In the meantime, the core of the historian's agenda, mostly focused on slave trade and the narratives of the enslaved, tends to obscure this connected history. Thus, the production of objects in ivory and the circulation of ivory has not grabbed the attention of historiography until recently. An exception are the so-called "Afro-Portuguese" ivories of Western Africa. However these works were underestimated as African artistic creations. Local conditions of production and visual discourses have to be examined and put in global perspective. Further, West Central African ivories, as well as possible African productions in the Americas, have been ignored until recently. The centres of production of ivories need to be surveyed and approached as cosmopolitan spaces where material culture of different continents interacted and hybridized. This panel looks for papers that help to fill this lacuna, valuing the multimodal regional and intercontinental circuits of ivory mostly in the Atlantic basin until the nineteenth century, as well as the circulation of symbols and cosmological views and appropriations of meaning associated with these objects.