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In My Time of DyingA History of Death and the Dead in West Africa$
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John Parker

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780691193151

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691193151.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 02 December 2021

Poison

Poison

Chapter:
(p.155) 10 Poison
Source:
In My Time of Dying
Author(s):

John Parker

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691193151.003.0011

This chapter explores the cultural register of poison and poisoning on the Gold Coast and in its forest hinterland. European apprehension about guileful native poisoners is certainly part of this story, but as the chapter argues, these anxieties, far from simply being febrile orientalist imaginings, were in part derived from African perceptions of the quotidian ubiquity of poison — both medicinal and magical. The chapter investigates its cultural terrain by way of a sequence of episodes beginning at Accra in 1745, moving to the Asante court at Kumasi in the 1790s to 1810s, and then back to the Gold Coast in the mid-nineteenth century, when accusations of poisoning began to emerge in British colonial courts. Ultimately, the chapter studies the spectrum of vernacular concepts encapsulated by the term 'poison'. It then examines the poison in the Akan world and its discrete materiality and an extensive and unstable semantic range.

Keywords:   poison, poisoning, Kumasi, British colonial courts, Akan world

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