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Mancala in Surinamese Maroon Communities: The Expedition of Melville J. Herskovits

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The American Museum of Natural History (amnh) has three mancala game boards in their collection that are connected with Suriname, formerly Dutch Guyana. One of these samples is exhibited in the amnh African Peoples Hall as part of a section on African Slavery and Diaspora. The games of Suriname were described by Melville J. Herskovits in an article dating to 1929, but the relation of these three boards with Herskovits has remained unclear. With the help of the Herskovits archives, the archival records of amnh and recent research on Surinamese Maroon communities, the history of these three boards is shown to be intimately linked with Herskovits’ broader intellectual project.