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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Politics of Commercial Transition: Factional Conflict in Dahomey in the Context of the Ending of the Atlantic Slave Trade
Author:Law, Robin R.ISNI
Year:1997
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Volume:38
Issue:2
Pages:213-233
Language:English
Geographic term:Benin
Subjects:Dahomey polity
succession
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/182822
Abstract:This article examines the background and significance of the disputed royal succession in Dahomey (in present-day Benin) following the death of King Gezo in 1858, when the accession of the designated heir apparent Badahun (who took the royal name of Glele) was contested. This dispute reflected divisions over the practice of human sacrifice, which Gezo was seeking to curtail; Badahun was associated with a conservative opposition to Gezo's reforms. The author argues that the controversies over human sacrifice related to disagreements within the Dahomian ruling elite about how to respond to the decline of the Atlantic slave trade. Gezo in the 1850s was seeking to promote the export of palm oil as a substitute for slaves. This policy implied the demilitarization of the Dahomian State and this in turn implied an attack on human sacrifice, which in Dahomey was bound up with the culture of militarism. The divisions arising from this crisis persisted beyond Glele's accession, into the late 19th century, when they undermined the solidarity of the Dahomian elite in the face of European imperialism. Ref., sum.
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