Katherine Faull: “Race, Religion, and Iron: A Case of Knowledge Transfer between West Africa and the Colonial Mid-Atlantic States? – February 6, 2018

While recent scholarship has focused on knowledge transfer from African cultures to the Americas concerning inter alia rice production (see Sept 2016’s visiting PBK scholar, Judith Carney, Black Rice) there has to date been little work that traces the links between the production of iron in West Africa and the small Colonial iron forges of the mid-Atlantic region. This paper asks the question about the connection between labor practices in the nascent Colonial iron industry, enslaved peoples of African descent, and the reports of itinerant (Euro- and African-American) Moravian preachers in the NJ, PA, NY area in the mid-18th century.

Using the methodologies of archival research, GIS mapping and network theory, this paper reveals the until now hidden relationships between enslaved African populations of the Delaware Valley and iron production and the organization of African American congregations in Philadelphia and New York, and attempts to trace the way in which these populations were agents of material and spiritual change for peoples of African descent in the Colonial mid-Atlantic.

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