S. Wynne-Jones and A. LaViolette, "The Swahili World" (Routledge, 2017)


The Swahili World (Routledge, 2017) presents the fascinating story of a major world civilization, exploring the archaeology, history, linguistics, and anthropology of the eastern coast of Africa. It covers a 1,500-year sweep of history, from the first settlement of the coast to the complex urban and rural spaces found there today. This is the first volume to explore the Swahili coast in chronological perspective. Each chapter offers a unique wealth of detail on an aspect of the region’s past, written by leading scholars on the subject. The result is a book that allows both specialist and non-specialist readers to explore the diversity of coastal East African traditions, how Swahili society has changed over time, and how our understandings of the region have shifted since Swahili studies first began in the nineteenth.

Scholars of the African continent will find the most nuanced and detailed consideration of Swahili culture, language, and history ever produced. For readers unfamiliar with the region or the people involved, the chapters here provide an ideal introduction to a new and wonderful geography, at the interface of Africa and the Indian Ocean world.

Stephanie Wynne-Jones is deputy head and senior lecturer in the department of archaeology at the University of York

Adria LaViolette is professor and director of undergraduate studies in the department of anthropology at the University of Virginia

Jenny Peruski is a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University, Department of History of Art and Architecture. Her research focuses on ornamentation and bodily adornment in coastal eastern Africa. She can be reached by email at jperuski@g.harvard.edu.

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