Abina and the Important Men

Paperback | June 15, 2015

byTrevor R. Getz, Liz Clarke

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Winner of the James Harvey Robinson Prize from the American Historical Association - and widely acclaimed by educators and students - Abina and the Important Men, Second Edition, is a compelling and powerfully illustrated "graphic history" based on an 1876 court transcript of a West Africanwoman named Abina, who was wrongfully enslaved and took her case to court. The book is a microhistory that does much more than simply depict an event in the past; it uses the power of illustration to convey important themes in world history and to reveal the processes by which history is made.The story of Abina Mansah - a woman "without history" who was wrongfully enslaved, escaped to British-controlled territory, and then took her former master to court - takes place in the complex world of the Gold Coast at the onset of late nineteenth-century colonialism. Slavery becomes a contestedground, as cultural practices collide with an emerging wage economy and British officials turn a blind eye to the presence of underpaid domestic workers in the households of African merchants. The main scenes of the story take place in the courtroom, where Abina strives to convince a series of"important men" - a British judge, two Euro-African attorneys, and a jury of local leaders - that her experiences and perceptions matter. "Am I free?" Abina inquires. Throughout both the court case and the flashbacks that dramatically depict her life in servitude, both the defendants and members ofthe court strive to "silence" Abina and to impose their own understandings and meanings upon her. Following the graphic history in Part I, Parts II-V provide detailed historical context for the story, a reading guide that reconstructs and deconstructs the methods used to interpret the story, and strategies for using Abina in various classroom settings. This second edition features a new gender-rich section, Part V: Engaging Abina, which explores Abina's life and narrative as a woman. Focusing on such important themes as the relationship between slavery and gender in pre-colonial Akan society, the role of marriage in Abina's experience, colonialpaternalism, and the meaning of cloth and beads in her story, this section also includes a debate on whether or not Abina was a slave, with contributions by three award-winning scholars - Antoinette Burton, Sandra Greene, and Kwasi Konadu - each working from different perspectives. The secondedition includes new, additional testimony that was rediscovered in the National Archives of Ghana, which is also reflected in the graphic history section.

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From the Publisher

Winner of the James Harvey Robinson Prize from the American Historical Association - and widely acclaimed by educators and students - Abina and the Important Men, Second Edition, is a compelling and powerfully illustrated "graphic history" based on an 1876 court transcript of a West Africanwoman named Abina, who was wrongfully enslaved...

Trevor R. Getz is Professor of History at San Francisco State University. Liz Clarke is a professional illustrator based in Cape Town, South Africa.

other books by Trevor R. Getz

Slavery and Reform in West Africa: Toward Emancipation in Nineteenth-Century Senegal and the Gold…
Slavery and Reform in West Africa: Toward Emancipation ...

Kobo ebook|Apr 20 2004

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 9.88 × 7.01 × 1.18 inPublished:June 15, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190238747

ISBN - 13:9780190238742

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Table of Contents

Maps and FiguresLetter to the ReaderAcknowledgmentsA Note on Ghanaian IdiogramsPART I: THE GRAPHIC HISTORY1. Abina Awakes2. The Breaking of the Beads3. The Truth4. Life at Quamina Eddoo's House5. He Did Nothing Good for Me6. Abina Silenced, Abina RedeemedPART II: THE TRANSCRIPTThe Testimony of Abina MansahThe Testimony of Eccoah CoomThe Testimony of Adjuah N'YamiwehThe Testimony of YowahwahPART III: HISTORICAL CONTEXTThe Gold Coast, ca. 1876 99The British Civilizing MissionThe Civilizing Mission in the Gold CoastSlavery in the Gold CoastThe Atlantic Slave Trade and AbolitionAbina Mansah and the Important MenPART IV: READING GUIDEWhose Story Is This?Is This a "True" Story?Is This "Authentic" History?PART V: ENGAGING ABINAGendering AbinaWas Abina a slave?Sandra Greene, "Who was Abina Mansah?"Kwasi Konadu, "Was Abina Mansah a 'Slave'?"Antoinette Burton, "Sex and Slavery in the 1876 Case of Abina Mansah"Reading QuestionsIntroductory Questions, for Students at All LevelsQuestions for Students at the University or College LevelAdditional Questions for Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate StudentsTimelineFurther ResourcesAbina MansahSlavery and Abolition on the Gold CoastAbout Colonialism and the Gold CoastGeneral Histories of AfricaImperialism and ColonialismGender and African HistoryWeb ResourcesPreliminary SketchesGlossary

Editorial Reviews

"The second edition of Abina's story presents a powerful human struggle paired with an engaging, honest example of historical inquiry in the form of questions and debates. It is accessible for students and provocative for readers at all levels." --Laura J. Mitchell, University of California, Irvine