The colonization counterfactual

My first-ever reblog is of a map.

Is anybody surprised? 😛 You certainly shouldn’t be.

This is fascinating, and well worth the hours you’ll spend poring over its political and geographic boundaries. In particular, let me draw your attention to the Al-Magreb region… and the Iberian Peninsula! Let me know your thoughts.

Counterfactuals are particularly difficult to discuss because there is simply no way to prove or disprove them. But that’s part of the fun!

Rachel Strohm

One of the questions I’m often asked by friends who haven’t studied African history is what might have happened to the continent if it hadn’t been colonized.  It’s interesting to look at the following map of African politico-tribal units circa 1844 by Swedish artist Nikolaj Cyon in the light of this question:

Alkebu-lan[click for full size – it’s worth it!]

I haven’t been able to find any firm documentation on the origin of the name Alkebu-lan, although a variety of questionably sourced websites suggest that it’s an Arabic phrase meaning “land of the blacks” – supposedly an original name for Africa.  Cyon notes in a presentation that the map represents the culmination of an alternate history where the Black Plague killed significantly more Europeans than was actually the case, presumably reducing the amount of early colonization which would have occurred.  Thus, while many of these territorial groupings appear feasible to…

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