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West Africa and West Africans

West Africa and West Africans

Imagined Communities in Africa and the Diaspora

Chapter:
(p.35) 1 West Africa and West Africans
Source:
African & American
Author(s):
Marilyn HalterViolet Showers Johnson
Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814760581.003.0002

This chapter examines the trajectory of West African immigrants' experience in the United States by focusing on the complexities of their premigration history. It begins by tracing the precolonial origins of regionalism in West Africa, with particular emphasis on the peoples who lived in the West African region before the colonial era and how they interacted with each other and began to carve the characteristics of the region. It then discusses the most influential developments that shaped and illustrated the interconnectedness of the peoples of West Africa, including the Islamic Revolution or jihads of the nineteenth century. It also considers how the interplay between European imperial nationality and African ethnicity affected the history of West Africa and West Africans, as well as the ways in which the Africans moved toward developing a sense of nationhood and citizenship in relation to ethnicity and postcolonial regionalism. Finally, it explores the impact of intraregional migration on West Africa and West Africans and the migration of West Africans to the United States during the 1960s and 1970s.

Keywords:   regionalism, West African immigrants, West Africa, jihads, African ethnicity, West Africans, nationhood, citizenship, intraregional migration

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