DOI

10.17077/etd.do1xmn88

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Fall 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Art History

First Advisor

Christopher D. Roy

First Committee Member

Barbara B. Mooney

Second Committee Member

Craig Adcock

Third Committee Member

Robert Rorex

Fourth Committee Member

Lyombe Eko

Abstract

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.

Public Abstract

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.

Keywords

Abomey, Architecture, Dahomey, Kingdom, Tohosu, Vodun

Pages

xii, 322 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 313-322).

Copyright

Copyright © 2014 Lynne Ann Ellsworth Larsen

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