Lori De Lucia
Archival Intersections in Mediterranean Historiography: The Trans-Saharan Histories of Early Modern Southern Italy
Lori De Lucia's research examines the movement of enslaved Sahelians in the early modern Mediterranean, with a focus on first and second-generation Sahelian communities in Western Sicily. Dr. De Lucia is interested in how the study of race and slavery in the early modern Italian context can inform contemporary issues of migration, citizenship and human trafficking in the Mediterranean. Her work also emphasizes the importance of African archives in Mediterranean histories. She spent two years studying and working in Niger, has taught the Hausa language at Boston and Harvard University, and served as a consultant on the NEH Ajami Manuscript project at BU. She has held postdoctoral fellows at the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History at Harvard University, the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies at Bonn University, and as both a Berenson fellow and part of the Black Mediterranean Getty Project at I Tatti. De Lucia received her PhD in History from UCLA.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth century, enslaved Sahelians became part of long-standing communities in southern Italy. In her current research, Dr. De Lucia plans to trace connections between first and second-generation enslaved people from the Borno Sultanate through the family records of prominent Sicilian slave owners and Jesuit archives. Beyond looking at how these Italian archives point to early European constructions of race, she will use them to better understand how Sahelians formed communities, and what their cultural and linguistic affiliations can tell us about trans-Saharan connections in the early modern Mediterranean. How did Black Africans interact with other marginalized communities in southern Italy? How did they relate to each other as a displaced community from different regions of the Sahel? From a wider methodological perspective, in this project Italian archives become a valuable repository for African history. In the seventeenth-century Jesuits were learning African languages to proselytize communities in Sicily and Naples, religious processions occurred on the streets of Palermo with African deities, and African languages appear in Italian songs. How can these be put into conversation with African epistemologies and archives to construct global histories that reflect their inherent complexities?