This book traces the history of early seventeenth-century Portuguese Sephardic traders who settled in two communities on Senegal's Petite Cote. There, they lived as public Jews, under the spiritual guidance of a rabbi sent to them by the newly established Portuguese Jewish community in Amsterdam. In Senegal, the Jews were protected from agents of the Inquisition by local Muslim rulers. The Petite Cote communities included several Jews of mixed Portuguese-African heritage as well as African wives, offspring and servants. These merchants illegally supplied West African markets with swords, and this trade depended on artisans and merchants based in Morocco, Lisbon and northern Europe, and affected warfare in the Sahel and along the Upper Guinea Coast. After members of these communities moved to the United Provinces around 1620, they had a profound influence on relations between black and white Jews in Amsterdam. The study not only discovers previously unknown Jewish communities but by doing so offers a reinterpretation of the dynamics and processes of identity construction throughout the Atlantic world.

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