Africa at Noon on April 9, 2014

Shackles of Various Kinds: marriage, slavery, and shame in the late nineteenth century Gold Coast Colony and Protectorate

Trevor Getz
Professor, History
San Francisco State University

Time and Location

12:00pm, 206 Ingra­ham Hall, 1155 Obser­va­tory Drive, Madi­son, WI

Download poster (pdf)


Nineteenth century British magistrates in the Gold Coast, armed only with Victorian paternalism and amateur ethnography, often found themselves trying to separate the ‘slaves’ from the ‘wives’. In the process, they fell victim to a host of schemes from dissatisfied wives, spurned husbands, and oppressed servitors. At the same time, they missed the defining feature of slavery in local context: shame. Bringing shame, slavery, and marriage into conversation with each other allows us to evoke an image of this time and place that would have been more familiar to its inhabitants.


Trevor Getz is author of the award-winning graphic history Abina and the Important Men and editor of the Oxford University Press African World Histories series. His newest book, African Voices of the Global Past, 1500-Present, was published this year by Westview Press.