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Grant number: FEL-258168-18

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Matthew Rarey
Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH 44074-1099)

Mandinga Amulets in the Black Atlantic World

A book-length study of the mandinga amulets made by enslaved Africans.

“Insignificant Things: Occlusion, Accumulation, and the Art of Survival in the Black Atlantic” analyzes the form, reception, and use of “mandinga” amulets made by enslaved Africans and used across Africa, Brazil, and Portugal between the late 17th and early 19th centuries. It argues that mandingas are a rich, and largely unexamined, archive of Africans’ experiences in the black Atlantic world. For the first time, the book closely analyzes extant mandingas and their contents, as well as descriptions of their construction and use. It also presents reconstructions of the trans-Atlantic biographies of mandinga makers and users, and reinterpretations of European, Brazilian, and African objects and images referenced in mandingas. Expanding on key issues in African diaspora art history, slavery studies, and visual culture studies, the book also asks who writes history, how archives are constructed, and how the enslaved represented their experience in arenas meant to obscure it.

Project fields:
African History; Art History and Criticism


Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2018 – 6/30/2019