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Yaari Felber-Seligman
CUNY Research Foundation, City College (New York, NY 10031-9101)
Inland Trade in Central East Africa, ca. 1st-17th Centuries

Writing and revisions leading to a book about the Rufiji Ruvuma societies of Eastern Africa during the pre-seventeenth century.

Crafting New Economies is the first book to detail the pre-seventeenth century history of Rufiji Ruvuma societies of Eastern Africa. These societies – named after two major local rivers – had neither written records nor accounts written about them before the 1600s. Nor did they leave behind large-scale archaeological traces. My research overcomes these challenges with the methodology of historical linguistics used in conjunction with other available environmental, archaeological, material culture, and ethnographic records. This project began as a doctoral dissertation and has been subsequently re-framed and expanded with new research. With twelve full-time months of NEH support the author will complete the final stages of book revisions. Tracing over a millennia, this book presents an inland history that centers on Africans’ material culture desires, rather than external world systems, a perspective often missing for those interested in the complexity of precolonial African pasts.

Project fields:
African History; African Studies; Cultural History

Awards for Faculty

Research Programs

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2021