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Chapter Three. The African and European Slave Trades

Walter C. Rucker

Subject Race and Ethnicity Studies » African American Studies

Place Africa

Key-Topics slavery

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230663.2004.00005.x


The dynamic set of processes by which millions of Africans were captured, sold, and transported to Western Hemisphere plantation societies was one of the most tragic chapters in human history. The opening-up of Atlantic World commerce, spearheaded by the Portuguese in the early fifteenth century, spawned a set of sizable migrations – both voluntary and forced – from the Old World to the Americas. Most of this movement was centered in West and West-central Africa, which accounted for roughly 75 percent of all transoceanic migration before the American Revolution. Ironically, less is known about the details of this massive movement of people than the much smaller migration of Europeans. Even so, this trade in black flesh and the rise of racialized slavery throughout the Americas has been keenly studied by historians for the past few decades ( Eltis 2000 ; Mann 2001 ). An impressive array of research centers, academic journals, professional organizations and university press book series have developed in the field of Atlantic World slavery, greatly enhancing scholarly understandings of this subject. Endeavors such as the Nigerian Hinterland Project based at York University – which focuses on enslaved African exports from the Bights of Biafra and Benin – have sought to trace the various “Diasporas” which originated in the Niger River Delta as a result of the transoceanic and trans-Saharan ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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