West African history is inseparable from the history of the Atlantic slave trade and colonialism.
According to historical archaeologist Fran ois Richard, however, the dominance of this narrative not only colors the range of political discourse about Africa but also occludes many lesser-known--but equally important--experiences of those living in the region. Reluctant Landscapes is an exploration of the making and remaking of political experience and physical landscapes among rural communities in the Siin province of Senegal between the late 1500s and the onset of World War II.
By recovering the histories of farmers and commoners who made up African states' demographic core in this period, Richard shows their crucial--but often overlooked--role in the making of Siin history.
The book also delves into the fraught relation between the Seereer, a minority ethnic and religious group, and the Senegalese nation-state, with Siin's perceived "primitive" conservatism standing at odds with the country's Islamic modernity.
Through a deep engagement with oral, documentary, archaeological, and ethnographic archives, Richard's groundbreaking study revisits the four-hundred-year history of a rural community shunted to the margins of Senegal's national imagination.