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In Gurinder Chadha’s 2002 movie Bend it like Beckham, the football-loving principal protagonist Jess Bhamra, daughter of Punjabi parents living in Hounslow, is upbraided by her mother for being too keen on sports to be able to make ‘aloo gobi’ properly, which gives this dish the appearance of being a key component in the repertoire of any suitably marriageable Punjabi girl at the start
How can you know about somewhere you’ve never been? This predicament is at the heart of David Lambert’s superb new book, Mastering the Niger: James MacQueen’s African Geography and the Struggle over Atlantic Slavery. In 1841 the Scottish geographer and proslavery propagandist James MacQueen published A New Map of Africa. MacQueen had never visited the continent.
For every large historical topic – and the transatlantic slave trade is certainly a large one – there is a need for good small books to introduce the academic understanding of the topic to students and the general public. The writing of a good small book on a large topic, however, can be no small challenge.