Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Christopher D. Roy
First Committee Member
Barbara B. Mooney
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
The Royal Palace of Dahomey, which stands in varied states of decay and restoration in Abomey, Benin, has been subject to change and manipulation throughout its history (c. 1645-present). This dissertation focuses on its transformations during the French colonial and post-colonial periods and investigates how the palace functions as a site for religious ceremonies, a center for political struggle, and a symbol of non-European identity. It documents what physical transformations the palace complex underwent in relation to its changing roles, explores the ethics of external political forces, and investigates what influence the palace and royal history have had on contemporary identity and domestic architecture.
The Kingdom of Dahomey (ca.1625-1892), located in West Africa, was renown in the nineteenth century for its military might and economic power. Each king of Dahomey enlarged the kingdom’s royal palace until it ultimately covered more than 108 acres, housed several thousand people, and was surrounded by a wall over two miles long. This palace complex, located in the pre-colonial capital, Abomey, served as both the cultural and physical center of the city, as well as a legitimizing force of the monarch’s power throughout the kingdom. This dissertation examines the palace’s relationship to the national, cultural, and religious identity of colonial Dahomey and post-colonial Benin. It investigates the palace as a center for political struggle, as a symbol of non-European identity, as a museum and cultural center, and as a site for religious ceremonies. It both documents what physical transformations the palace complex has undergone in relation to its changing roles, and investigates what influence the palace and royal history have had on the local identity and domestic architecture.
Abomey, Architecture, Dahomey, Kingdom, Tohosu, Vodun
xii, 322 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 313-322).
Copyright © 2014 Lynne Ann Ellsworth Larsen
Larsen, Lynne Ann Ellsworth. "The Royal Palace of Dahomey: symbol of a transforming nation." PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2014.