Mark Hinchman's book Portrait of an Island: The Architecture and Material Culture of Gorée, Sénégal, 1757–1837 examines architecture, images, documents, and objects to provide a nuanced picture of Gorée, a small Senegalese island which functioned as a principal trading post of the Senegambian region during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As a trading center, the island was exceptionally diverse economically, culturally, racially, and in material goods. Likewise, its size facilitated a particularly interconnected society of signares, a class of mixed race women of wealth and stature; Europeans of various occupations; free blacks; and slaves, both those who lived and worked on the island and those held for sale abroad. Hinchman argues that this diversity, while premodern, anticipates contemporary issues of globalism, multiculturalism, and shifting identities.

Beyond providing the reader an understanding...

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