What We Are Reading Today: African Dominion  by Michael A. Gomez

Updated 27 September 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: African Dominion  by Michael A. Gomez

  • Michael Gomez unveils a new vision of how categories of ethnicity, race, gender, and caste emerged in Africa and in global history more generally
  • Islam’s growth in West Africa resulted in a series of political experiments unique to the region

Pick up almost any book on early and medieval world history and empire, and where do you find West Africa? On the periphery. This pioneering book, the first on this period of the region’s history in a generation, tells a different story. 

Interweaving political and social history and drawing on a rich array of sources, including Arabic manuscripts, oral histories, and recent archaeological findings, Michael Gomez unveils a new vision of how categories of ethnicity, race, gender, and caste emerged in Africa and in global history more generally. Scholars have long held that such distinctions arose during the colonial period, but Gomez shows they developed much earlier.

Focusing on the Savannah and Sahel region, Gomez traces the exchange of ideas and influences with North Africa and the Central Islamic Lands by way of merchants, scholars, and pilgrims. 

Islam’s growth in West Africa resulted in a series of political experiments unique to the region, culminating in the rise of empire. A major preoccupation was the question of who could be legally enslaved, which together with other factors led to the construction of new ideas about ethnicity, race, gender, and caste — long before colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade.

Telling a radically new story about early Africa in global history, African Dominion is set to be the standard work on the subject for many years to come.


What We Are Reading Today: Revolutionizing the Sciences by Peter Dear

Updated 16 February 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Revolutionizing the Sciences by Peter Dear

  • The book reflects on the origins of scientific practice in early modern Europe

This thoroughly revised third edition of an award-winning book offers a keen insight into how the scientific revolution happened and why. Covering central scientific figures, including Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Bacon, this new edition features greater treatment of alchemy and associated craft activities to reflect trends in current scholarship.

The book reflects on the origins of scientific practice in early modern Europe. Peter Dear traces the revolution in thought that changed the natural world from something to be contemplated into something to be used, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Concise and readable, this book is ideal for students who are studying the scientific revolution and its impact on the early modern world. The first edition was the winner of the Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize of the History of Science Society.