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Journal Article

Another Image of Africa: Toward an Ethnohistory of European Cloth Marketed in West Africa, 1873-1960

Christopher B. Steiner
Ethnohistory
Vol. 32, No. 2 (Spring, 1985), pp. 91-110
Published by: Duke University Press
DOI: 10.2307/482329
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/482329
Page Count: 20
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Another Image of Africa: Toward an Ethnohistory of European Cloth Marketed in West Africa, 1873-1960
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Abstract

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Europeans in both France and Britain have produced large quantities of cloth intended specifically for sale in West Africa. These textiles were neither products of crude workmanship, nor subject to haphazard marketing techniques, but rather represented enormous effort on the part of European cloth producers and designers to meet the varied tastes and desires of their colonized clientele. This essay explores the ethnohistory of textile commerce between Europeans and Africans during a portion of the colonial era. When examined in their proper historical and cultural contexts, European textiles intended for sale in West Africa reveal a hitherto unnoticed appreciation which a group of European entrepeneurs had for African culture, fashion, and aesthetics.

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