Cheikh Sene

Cheikh Sene

I Tatti/Getty Foundation Fellow
The Mediterranean: a space of entanglement of networks, material culture and Exchange between Europe and West Africa (15th-18th century)
2023-2024 (January - June)
Cheikh Sene


Cheikh Sene holds a PhD in history from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne. His dissertation on "Economy of trade and taxation: the question of customs in Senegambia, from the slave era to the colonial conquest, 17th-19th century", defended in 2020, was awarded the Special Mention of the Jury of the "Fondation pour la Mémoire de l'esclavage” dissertation prize. He was a "Young Doctor" affiliated with the Institut des Mondes Africains (IMAF) Aubervilliers (France) (2020-2022). His work focuses on the commercial relations between sub-Saharan Africa and Europe via the "desert routes" and the Atlantic with a focus on the circulation of objects and their socio-economic impacts in Africa. His research topics also include: the beginnings of modern Africa; empire, imperialism, and colonialism in Africa; and slave trade, slavery, and dependence.

Project Summary

In the 15th century, when Portuguese traders supported by Florentine and Genoese businessmen opened the Atlantic route for the slave trade with Africa, the old trans-Saharan trade between the Mediterranean and West Africa across the Sahara continues to supply Europe and sub-Saharan Africa with trade commodities from various countries. The Mediterranean is an indirect meeting place between two worlds: Europe and sub-Saharan Africa through their trade products. As a gateway for European goods (copper, manila, iron, textiles, beads, coral, paper, weapons...) and an exit point for African goods (ivory, gold, gum arabic, wax, slaves, ostrich feathers...), the Mediterranean remains a commercial zone par excellence where various trade networks from different cultures (Jews, Christians and Muslims) rub shoulders. This project explores how the production, circulation and consumption of these objects were strongly linked to the demands of European and African elites. This project also attempts to understand the economic and social function of these objects in sub-Saharan Africa, the Mediterranean, and Europe in the context of the globalization of trade relations in the modern era.