The Forgotten Diaspora: Jewish Communities in West Africa and the Making of the Atlantic World

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Jul 31, 2013 - History - 280 pages
0 Reviews
This book traces the history of early seventeenth-century Portuguese Sephardic traders who settled in two communities on Senegal's Petite Côte. There, they lived as public Jews, under the spiritual guidance of a rabbi sent to them by the newly established Portuguese Jewish community in Amsterdam. In Senegal, the Jews were protected from agents of the Inquisition by local Muslim rulers. The Petite Côte communities included several Jews of mixed Portuguese-African heritage as well as African wives, offspring, and servants. The blade weapons trade was an important part of their commercial activities. These merchants participated marginally in the slave trade but fully in the arms trade, illegally supplying West African markets with swords. This blade weapons trade depended on artisans and merchants based in Morocco, Lisbon, and northern Europe and affected warfare in the Sahel and along the Upper Guinea Coast. After members of these communities moved to the United Provinces around 1620, they had a profound influence on relations between black and white Jews in Amsterdam. The study not only discovers previously unknown Jewish communities but by doing so offers a reinterpretation of the dynamics and processes of identity construction throughout the Atlantic world.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Two Sephardic Communities on Senegals Petite Cote
Jewish Identity in Senegambia
Catholics Jews and Muslims
The Blade Weapons Trade in SeventeenthCentury
The LusoAfrican Ivories as Historical Source
Merchant Mobility and
A Comprehensive List ca 16o6ca 163 5

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2013)

Peter Mark is Professor of Art History at Wesleyan University. He is the author of several books, including 'Portuguese' Style and Luso-African Identity: Precolonial Senegambia, Sixteenth to Nineteenth Centuries (2002) and The Wild Bull and the Sacred Forest: Form, Meaning and Change in Senegambian Initiation Masks of the Diola (Cambridge University Press, 1992), as well as multiple scholarly articles. Professor Mark has twice been an Alexander von Humboldt research Fellow at the Frobenius-Institut, Goethe Universität (Frankfurt). He has also held National Endowment for the Humanities and Fulbright Fellowships.

José da Silva Horta is Assistant Professor, with tenure, of African History and of Expansion History at Lisbon University, where he is also a researcher at the Center of History. He serves as director of the Faculty of Letters Doctoral Program in African History and of the African Studies Undergraduate Program. He is author of A 'Guiné do Cabo Verde': produção textual e representações (1578-1684), PhD dissertation, 2002 (revised to the press). His publications include A representação do Africano na Literatura de Viagens, do Senegal ... Serra Leoa (1453-1508) (1991) and articles in international journals.

Bibliographic information