This article examines the sartorial culture of an African elite as a form of Afropolitanism in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century West African kingdom of Dahomey. Dahomean elites embraced cultural borrowing to layer styles and materials from European and African sources. Combining textiles and accessories associated with mobility and outsiders, elites asserted authority, power, and privilege within a local framework. Their dress practices also served as an expression of elite inclusion in a larger Atlantic world, in which Dahomey was a major participant in the transatlantic trade in African captives and, later, cash crops produced domestically by enslaved labor. By exploring the political, economic, and social contexts of elite Dahomean dress, this article reveals the deep historical roots of Afropolitanism on the continent and how the domestication of global and African commodities has long distinguished African elites from the masses. In doing so, it also shows how violence, systems of enslavement, and the accumulation of wealth fueled a Dahomean Afropolitan aesthetic of worlds-in-movement, which served to distinguish elites as citizens of Dahomey and as humans of the Atlantic world more broadly.

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