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.


“World’s largest book sale” comes to Middle East at giant hangar in Dubai

Updated 18 October 2018
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“World’s largest book sale” comes to Middle East at giant hangar in Dubai

  • The Big Bad Wolf Book Sale, launched in Kuala Lumpur in 2009, has since regularly toured Asian cities
  • Organizers hope to attract as many as 300,000 visitors during 11 days in Dubai
DUBAI: A gargantuan touring book sale that touts itself as the world’s largest is making its first stop in the Middle East, filling a huge hangar in Dubai with stacks of 3 million discounted books, open around the clock.
The Big Bad Wolf Book Sale, launched in Kuala Lumpur in 2009, has since regularly toured Asian cities including Jakarta, Manila, Cebu, Colombo, Bangkok and Taipei. Organizers hope to attract as many as 300,000 visitors during 11 days in Dubai.
Founder Andrew Yap said he expects the sheer number of books will lure in punters.
“In a mature market like Dubai, this will give variety to readers,” he told Reuters.
Roudha Al Marri, an Emirati co-author of a guide to life in the UAE whose own book was on sale at the fair, said a city such as Dubai needed such an event to help spur reading among a “tablet generation” preoccupied with screens.
“To hold a book, smell it, to return us to more beautiful days, to throw us into mazes of stories. Every generation needs this,” she said.