First steering group meeting: Canary Islands 2011

From 25-28 May 2011, the MACH project team met up with several colleagues working on the Canary Islands and Cape Verde. While Mauritius played a pivotal role in the transition from slavery to indenture, it is but one example of how important island groups can be for investigating issues that have had major impacts on the modern world. Recognising this, and in collaboration with key partners from the Canary and Cape Verdean Islands, our respective teams organised the first of a series of steering group meetings, held in Gran Canaria and kindly hosted by the University of Las Palmas. The School of Forensic and Investigative Sciences, UCLan, generously supported this event.

The choice of island groups is an important one, and carefully planned by those involved. The Canary Islands formed the first historic point of contact, within the Atlantic, between Europeans and ‘indigenous’ peoples. In truth, the socio-economic model of colonisation, ostensibly underpinned by religious indoctrination, was initially witnessed in the Canaries. Arguably more poignant, Columbus was given sugar cane during a serendipitous trip to the islands on his unintentional journey to the Americas. Cape Verde, in much the same way, served as a gateway for Portuguese sailors and merchants to Brazil, setting the foundations for the huge colonial transformation of that part of South America.

Thus, the aim of including these other island groups is to provide chronological and thematic comparative dimensions, as well as set the foundation for a concerted effort to investigate the historical archaeology of Africa through the lens of the small, yet incredibly important, islands that surround it.

The meeting proved very successful and resulted in firm agreements placed between the collaborating institutions. This meeting has effectively set the foundation for a series of themed investigations looking at “Islands Around Africa: European Globalisation in the Post Medieval World”.

Key Collaborators:

Canary Islands:

Amelia Rodriguez

Matilde Arnay

Jacob Morales-Mateos

Cape Verdean Islands:

Chris Evans

Marie-Louis Sorensen

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