Edited by Sylviane A. Diouf
“This book should be required reading for anyone interested in the West Africans’ fight against enslavement.”
Rachel Dowty, Journal of World History
“The scholars in this collection overwhelmingly argue that certain populations of West Africans were keenly aware of the devastating impact of the transatlantic slave trade on their societies, and these populations sought to mitigate the damages as best they could.... This collection is particularly useful in teaching undergraduate and graduate students about the transatlantic slave trade to counter and balance the pervasive belief that Africans were either passive victims or active participants in slavery.”
African Studies Quarterly
“Fighting the Slave Trade provides a comprehensive and compelling interpretation of the West African involvement in the Atlantic trade…Its clear language and engaging style make it relevant both to specialists and a broader readership.”
Benedetta Rossi, Progress in Development Studies
While most studies of the slave trade focus on the volume of captives and on their ethnic origins, the question of how the Africans organized their familial and communal lives to resist and assail it has not received adequate attention. But our picture of the slave trade is incomplete without an examination of the ways in which men and women responded to the threat and reality of enslavement and deportation.
Fighting the Slave Trade is the first book to explore in a systematic manner the strategies Africans used to protect and defend themselves and their communities from the onslaught of the Atlantic slave trade and how they assaulted it.
It challenges widely held myths of African passivity and general complicity in the trade and shows that resistance to enslavement and to involvement in the slave trade was much more pervasive than has been acknowledged by the orthodox interpretation of historical literature.
Focused on West Africa, the essays collected here examine in detail the defensive, protective, and offensive strategies of individuals, families, communities, and states. In chapters discussing the manipulation of the environment, resettlement, the redemption of captives, the transformation of social relations, political centralization, marronage, violent assaults on ships and entrepôts, shipboard revolts, and controlled participation in the slave trade as a way to procure the means to attack it, Fighting the Slave Trade presents a much more complete picture of the West African slave trade than has previously been available.
The author of the award-winning Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas, Sylviane A. Diouf also initiated and co-organized the conference “Fighting Back: African Strategies against the Slave Trade” held at Rutgers University. She is a researcher at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. More info →
“Between the early 1500s and the late 1860s, an estimated twelve million African men, women, and children were forcibly transported across the Atlantic Ocean. About seven million were displaced through the Sahara desert and the Indian Ocean, in a movement that started in the seventh century and lasted until the twentieth. If the idea that the deported Africans walked quietly into servitude has lost ground in some intellectual circles, it is still going strong in popular culture; as are the supposed passivity or complicity of the rest of their compatriots and their lack of remorse for having allowed or participated in this massive displacement.…”
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The literature on women enslaved around the world has grown rapidly in the last ten years, evidencing strong interest in the subject across a range of academic disciplines.
Significant numbers of the people enslaved throughout world history have been children. The vast literature on slavery has grown to include most of the history of this ubiquitous practice, but nearly all of it concentrates on the adult males whose strong bodies and laboring capacities preoccupied the masters of the modern Americas.
Ouidah, an African town in the Republic of Benin, was the principal precolonial commercial center of its region and the second-most-important town of the Dahomey kingdom. It served as a major outlet for the transatlantic slave trade. Between the seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries, Ouidah was the most important embarkation point for slaves in the region of West Africa known to outsiders as the Slave Coast.
Eurafricans in Western Africa traces the rich social and commercial history of western Africa. The most comprehensive study to date, it begins prior to the sixteenth century when huge profits made by middlemen on trade in North African slaves, salt, gold, pepper, and numerous other commodities prompted Portuguese reconnaissance voyages along the coast of western Africa.
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