This grant enabled Dr. Lofkrantz to travel to France, Mauritania, and Nigeria in April 2012. Dr. Lofkrantz visited local libraries and archives in these countries to access works and writings of 19th Century leaders.
Summary of project:
“Scholars, Captives, and Slaves: The Intellectual Debate on Ransoming Prisoners in Muslim West Africa” is a transnational intellectual and social history of the debate amongst West African Muslims, between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, on the legality and use of the practice of ransoming. Ransoming, or the return of a captive otherwise slated for enslavement in exchange for payment, was a defining characteristic of captivity and slavery in West Africa. While many aspects of slavery have been studied, this project bridges social and intellectual history to highlight the connections and ramifications of the debate between religious and legal authorities and policy-makers on the institution of slavery and remedies for illegal enslavement, specifically ransoming. In particular this project will contribute to the understanding of slavery in Islamic and African systems, especially in relationship to the ties between intellectual discourse, the formation of policy and actual practices of enslavement and treatment of captives and slaves.