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Atlantic History Atlantic Slavery
by
Matt Childs

Introduction

If historians were forced to name the one institution or historical phenomenon that most decisively fostered the creation of the Atlantic world by connecting the four continents bordering the Atlantic Ocean, many would undoubtedly name slavery. From the first arrival of sub-Saharan African slaves in Europe via the Atlantic slave trade in 1441, to the final abolition of Brazilian slavery in 1888, slavery bonded together the Atlantic world through the chains and links of human enslavement. If scholars reduced the importance of Atlantic slavery to the estimated 11 million enslaved Africans forced across the Atlantic and their New World destinations, historians would be telling only a small part of how slavery created the Atlantic world. Atlantic slavery sustained colonies and empires by the goods and products slavery could produce at an ever more abundant and profitable rate for consumption on the other side of the Atlantic and in far-flung destinations across the globe. Even more importantly, and a legacy still shaping the world we live in today, Atlantic slavery created new racial identities whereby people of European descent increasingly embraced a “white” identity and people of African descent embraced a “black” identity. Moreover, the struggle to end slavery gave rise to some of the most momentous, radical, and contradictory political movements of the modern era, which slowly ushered in the ideology of natural rights and, eventually, the widespread belief that freedom and liberty should be regarded as basic human rights. Given the weighty historical influence of Atlantic slavery in shaping the past five hundred years of human history, it is not surprising—and only appropriate—that the literature on the topic is just as massive and complex. The literature cited and described below grapples with many of these defining elements of Atlantic slavery. In addition, over the past forty years historians have tackled the empirical, conceptual, and methodological challenges of placing slaves individually and collectively at the center of the story of the rise and fall of Atlantic slavery in the New World. As a result, some of the most outstanding social and cultural history, representative of the best work in the historical profession, has emerged from scholars writing on Atlantic slavery.

General Overviews

Given the importance of slavery in shaping the colonization of the New World and connecting the Atlantic world through trade, commerce, and people, there exists a large scholarly literature of both general treatments and synthetic works. Much of this literature is intended for college classroom use. That stated, the expert in slavery in one region of the Atlantic eager to learn about the institution in another geographic region and time period will find these overviews and general treatments the best place to start. The literature can be divided into three groups: (1) slavery in an Atlantic context; (2) works on the African diaspora; and (3) colony-, country-, or region-specific overviews of slavery. For slavery in an Atlantic context, Davis 2006 provides an impressive sweep of the intellectual and political history of slavery in the New World, and Blackburn 1998 emphasizes the braiding of cultural and economic forces that gave rise to slavery in the Americas. From a diasporic perspective, Gomez 2005 traces the dispersal of Africans to regions within and beyond the Atlantic; Thornton 1998 focuses on the cultural imprints Africans made in shaping the Atlantic World; and Hall 2005, in particular, argues that African ethnic communities among slaves could be found throughout the New World during slavery, and that they fostered cultural links with their continent of origin. For really specific overviews, Lovejoy 2000 provides an admirable survey of slavery in Africa, emphasizing transformations resulting from interactions with Atlantic slavery; Klein and Vinson 2007 cogently summarizes slavery in Latin American and Caribbean settings, combining chronological and thematic approaches; and Kolchin 2003 summarizes American slavery with an emphasis on the antebellum period, master ideology, and slave culture and resistance.

  • Blackburn, Robin. The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492–1800. London: Verso, 1998.

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    Impressive synthesis on the formation of the slave societies in the Americas, with treatment of the Spanish, Portuguese, British, French, and Dutch slave systems. Special emphasis is placed on explaining the convergence between cultural and economic forces that shaped the emergence of slavery in the New World.

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  • Davis, David Brion. Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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    A collection of updated and revised essays, many of which provide cogent summaries of the major arguments by one of the most influential scholars writing on slavery in the second half of the 20th century. Although centered primarily on the repercussions of slavery for US history, Davis’s scholarship extends back to Classical societies and throughout the Atlantic.

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  • Gomez, Michael A. Reversing Sail: A History of the African Diaspora. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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    An impressive synthesis of the origins and dispersal of people of African descent, spanning several centuries with concise and succinct treatments. Topics range over Africans’ experiences in the Old World, Mediterranean, Islamic world, and New World in lands colonized by Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French, and English.

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  • Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo. Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.

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    Part of a revisionist approach to studying slavery in the New World that emphasizes the idea that the transatlantic slave trade created distinct “ethnic” communities under New World slavery by linking exporting and importing regions. Hall tends to extrapolate and build upon evidence from the Afro-Louisiana history and apply the results to other regions in the New World.

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  • Klein, Herbert S., and Ben Vinson. African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean. 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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    Succinct overview of slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean, with chapters covering the chronological rise and fall of slavery as an institution and thematic chapters covering family, labor, community, resistance, free people of color, and abolition.

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  • Kolchin, Peter. American Slavery, 1619–1877. Rev. ed. New York: Hill and Wang, 2003.

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    Synthetic interpretation of American slavery, revised with a new preface and afterword from 1993 edition. Emphasis is placed upon how slavery functions as a system (notably in the antebellum period), the role of paternalism as a guiding ideology, slave culture, and impact on white society.

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  • Lovejoy, Paul E. Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa. 2d ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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    Overview of slavery in Africa and how the institution functioned as a “mode of production.” Emphasis is on transformations through the twin processes of demand stemming from the transatlantic slave trade and warfare in Africa.

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  • Thornton, John K. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400–1800. 2d ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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    An examination of the role of Africans and people of African descent in shaping and contribution to the formation of the Atlantic world. Book is divided into two parts: an overview of African history during the precolonial era, and cultural chapters on Africans in the New World, mainly covering the 16th and 17th centuries.

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Comparative Treatments

As Atlantic slavery marked every colonial enterprise in the New World, and as bound labor systems have existed throughout human history, slavery as an institution, and Atlantic slavery in particular, has long been a subject of comparative history. Atlantic slavery in a comparative context can be divided into three broad categories: (1) Atlantic slavery compared with other forms of coercive labor systems; (2) comparative slave systems, emphasizing how the ideological and political ramifications have varied and changed from one region to the next and over time; and (3) colony or country comparative treatments, which often focus on the United States. For Atlantic slavery compared with other forms of bound labor, Kolchin 1987 deftly counterpoints Russian serfdom with US slavery, and Bowman 1993 skillfully compares the master ideology of Prussian Junkers and US slaveholders in the 19th century. Works on the ideological and political ramifications of comparative slavery have attracted the most influential scholars in the field. Tannenbaum 1946 contrasts the role of Iberian law and the church in shaping Latin American slavery with the absence of such institutions in British America; Genovese 1988 analyzes master ideology throughout the Americas to argue that US southern slaveholders were unique in creating a hegemonic justification for slavery; and Drescher 2009 artfully compares the rise and fall of the ideological justifications of slavery. In terms of focused comparative treatments, Degler 1986 contrasts US slavery with Brazil, with a particular emphasis on free people of color; McDonald 1993 provides a detailed and rich study of the material culture of slaves in 19th-century Louisiana and Jamaica; Scott 2005 focuses on Louisiana but compares the post-emancipation period to Cuba, emphasizing ex-slaves’ political activities; and Bergad 2007 provides a skillful comparison of slavery in Cuba, Brazil, and the United States.

  • Bergad, Laird W. The Comparative Histories of Slavery in Brazil, Cuba, and the United States. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    Thematic comparative treatment analyzing three of the most important slave societies in the Americas. Bergad charts and compares the diversity of slavery in Brazil, the United States, and Cuba, with a chronological emphasis on the 18th and 19th centuries and focused thematic chapters on collective and individual resistance, demographics, economics, and abolition.

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  • Bowman, Davis Shearer. Masters and Lords: Mid-19th-Century U.S. Planters and Prussian Junkers. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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    A detailed comparative analysis of the master class of the South and the ruling class of Prussian Junkers, emphasizing ideological contradictions that surfaced as a result of 19th-century abolition challenges to slavery and republican challenges to monarchical landed manors. Especially useful for clearly defining such debated concepts as paternalism, patriarchy, monarchism, and republicanism, and how these ideologies affected bound labor systems.

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  • Degler, Carl N. Neither Black nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States. New York: Macmillan, 1986.

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    Pulitzer prize–winning and path-breaking study (first published in 1971) of comparative slavery that explains how the differences between US and Brazilian slavery were the result of distinct demographic, economic, and cultural factors. Emphasizes the so-called mulatto-escape hatch, which the author argues allowed free people of color a “space” in Brazilian slave society, though Degler neglects to investigate the enslaved mulattos.

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  • Drescher, Seymour. Abolition: A History of Slavery and Antislavery. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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    A wide-ranging comparative synthesis charting the origins of slavery as a “perennial institution” of human domination, with an emphasis on the rise and fall of slavery in the New World. Mainly investigates the shift from the ideological justification of slavery to the abolitionist ideology that undermined the institution, with a particular focus on how revolutionary movements to overthrow monarchies and anticolonial movements aimed at independence became intertwined with ending slavery.

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  • Genovese, Eugene D. The World the Slaveholders Made: Two Essays in Interpretation. 2d ed. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1988.

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    Pioneering comparative treatment of master-class ideology among slaveholders in the Americas. Formally established the “paternalism” debate over New World slavery, which would dominate scholarship for well over a generation. Argues that masters in the United States were distinct in that they were the only slaveholders who authored a hegemonic argument on the “inherent good” of slavery, rather than the “necessary evil” argument that marked the other slave societies of the Americas. Originally published in 1969.

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  • Kolchin, Peter. Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987.

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    No comparative treatment of slavery has duplicated Kolchin’s achievement in employing comparative history to make nuanced historical arguments. Not only did Kolchin offer new interpretive insight into American slavery on such important and debated historiographic concepts as master ideology and slave resistance, he also contributed to the understanding of Russian serfdom by emphasizing how Russian lords and serfs navigated the transition to emancipation.

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  • McDonald, Roderick A. The Economy and Material Culture of Slaves: Goods and Chattels on the Sugar Plantations of Jamaica and Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993.

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    Comparative treatment of slavery in Jamaica and Louisana during the 19th century, with a focus on the thirty or forty years before abolition. McDonald studies the internal economy of slaves through marketing and selling goods and their own material possessions, demonstrating the actions of slaves on their own account shaped their own experiences while struggling against slavery as a system.

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  • Scott, Rebecca J. Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba after Slavery. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2005.

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    Innovative study of the political, social, and cultural battles to define citizenship in post-emancipation Louisiana and Cuba, based on exhaustive archival research. Examines individual actions of emancipated slaves against the larger social and political changes of the time period. Concludes that the dynamics of fighting for independence in Cuba by people of African descent provided political and social rights unavailable to African Americas in the era after Reconstruction.

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  • Tannenbaum, Frank. Slave and Citizen: The Negro in the Americas. New York: Vintage, 1946.

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    Classic study in comparative slavery, arguing that the legal and religious institutions for the enslaved population that were part of Iberian colonialism but absent in British colonialism ameliorated slavery and allowed free people of color to prosper.

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Journals

Articles on Atlantic slavery can be found in hundreds of journals published in dozens of languages, as any quick database search of Historical Abstracts will reveal. Several journals, however, focus specifically or primarily on the topic. First among these is Slavery and Abolition, particularly its annual bibliography, which provides an exhaustive list of works on slavery published in numerous languages. For articles on slavery in Latin America, Afro-Ásia and the Luso-Brazilian Review regularly publish on slavery in the Portuguese Atlantic world, the Hispanic American Historical Review covers slavery in Latin America from the 16th to 19th century, and Cuban Studies regularly features work on slavery and issues an annual bibliography useful for locating additional literature. For slavery in the Caribbean the New West-Indies Guide and the Journal of Caribbean History regularly feature articles on slavery, with particular emphasis on the British Caribbean. And for the United States, among the many journals that regularly features articles on slavery, the Journal of African American History in particular stands out.

Reference Works and Bibliographies

Scholars will find the reference and bibliographic work on slavery particularly useful as a place to start in plotting out a detailed research project, and for identifying succinct treatments on both general and narrow topics and concise references for more focused literature. In terms of bibliographic works, Miller 1999, an ongoing and annually updated bibliography on slavery, offers the best place to start. The online bibliography of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries is particularly useful for US slavery. For encyclopedias and dictionaries with brief entries, Falola and Warnock 2007 covers the Middle Passage, Miller and Smith 1997 covers slavery in the United States, and Rodriguez 1997 and Rodriguez and Patterson 1999 address slavery across a wide chronological and geographic span. Drescher and Engerman 1998 and Finkelman and Miller 1999, in particular, stand out for the slavery experts composing the entries and their authoritative treatment on Atlantic slavery.

  • Drescher, Seymour, and Stanley L. Engerman, eds. A Historical Guide to World Slavery. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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    Brief and extended articles by more than one hundred contributors, many the leading scholars in their areas of expertise, make this work an invaluable reference tool for slavery in all regions of the Atlantic world and beyond. Presents the current understanding of such large topics as slavery in Africa or more focused discussions such as penal slavery.

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  • Falola, Toyin, and Amanda Warnock, eds. Encyclopedia of the Middle Passage. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2007.

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    An “A-to-Z” encyclopedia of the transatlantic slave trade, consisting of 226 signed entries covering the Middle Passage, with suggestions for further reading. In addition to the individual entries, the encyclopedia includes an introductory overview of the transatlantic slave trade as well as illustrations, bibliography, and chronology.

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  • Finkelman, Paul, and Joseph C. Miller, eds. Macmillan Encyclopedia of World Slavery. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1999.

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    Comprehensive encyclopedia of signed articles by some of the most prominent scholars on slave trading, slavery, and abolition in the Americas, Africa, Europe and other locations. Entries are cross-referenced throughout, making the volume easy to use.

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  • Miller, Joseph C., ed. Slavery and Slaving in World History: A Bibliography. 2 vols. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1999.

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    A compilation of nearly four thousand works on slavery and slave trading in every part of the world, from Antiquity to the present, organized regionally and chronologically and including entries in several European languages. This bibliography has been updated by the annual bibliography in Slavery and Abolition (see Journals), also under the direction of Joseph Miller.

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  • Miller, Randall M., and John D. Smith, eds. Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery. 2d ed. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997.

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    An extensive dictionary of slavery in the United States, consisting of signed entries with recommended readings for each selection. The second edition has a revised bibliography along with a historiographical review of scholarship of the 1980s and 1990s.

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  • Rodriguez, Junius P., ed. The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery. 2 vols. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1997.

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    Contains some seven hundred signed entries by more than one hundred scholars with expertise on all aspects of slavery, slave trading, and abolition. Entries are cross-referenced and cover individuals, institutions, events, processes, and locations prominent in the world history of slavery.

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  • Rodriguez, Junius P., and Orlando Patterson, eds. Chronology of World Slavery. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1999.

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    Designed as a companion to Rodriguez 1997. Far more than a chronology, the work is divided into six geographical areas—Ancient World, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the United States, and Africa—each with an introduction, chronology, bibliography, and documents.

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  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Transatlantic Slavery: Selected Bibliography.

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    A free and open-access web source providing a bibliography of scholarly works, videos, audios, and microfilms dealing with the slave trade and slavery. Updated in 2003, the bibliography reflects an emphasis on North American slavery, and all titles are in English.

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Primary Sources

The primary sources available for the study of slavery are numerous and can be found in libraries and archives throughout the Atlantic world. Most often, primary sources are found in published document collections, journals and books published by particular archives, websites supported by archives, or as part of a documentary project detailing a commemoration. Increasingly, scholars and institutions are making documentary collections available as a free and open source on the web. Among the most valuable sources for chronicling the slave experience are narratives authored by ex-slaves themselves, most of which are available on the web through the North American Slave Narratives project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Born in Slavery project at the Library of Congress. A unique visual record of slavery with more than a thousand images ideal for classroom use has been made available through Handler and Tuit’s website The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record. The ongoing and extremely user-friendly Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, under the direction of David Eltis, has been made available to the public free of charge in its second edition. For slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean, Ecclesiastical Sources and Historical Research on the African Diaspora in Brazil and Cuba and Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1719–1820 provide thousands of records. Finally, Engerman, et al. 2001 offers an extremely useful “reader” on slavery that is ideal for classroom use.

West Africa

One of the most important scholarly developments for the understanding of Atlantic slavery is the recognition that slavery was an indigenous institution in Africa, and that most slaves forcibly brought to the Americas had experienced slavery in Africa first. In short, an understanding of both changes and continuities in Atlantic slavery requires an understanding of slavery in Africa. For the geographic region of West Africa, particularly the area from Senegambia to the bights of Benin and Biafra, there is a large literature on Atlantic slavery analyzing the institution from both African and Atlantic perspectives. Law 1977 and Law 1991 stand out for narrating the relationship between the rise of militarized polities in West Africa and the transatlantic slave trade. Barry 1998 analyzes the multiple impacts of the slave trade in the Senegambian region, emphasizing the consequences beyond the trade in slaves. Mann 2007 offers a detailed account of the rise of Lagos as an Atlantic port city tied to the slave trade. Batista de Sousa 2008 studies the creation of the first racially based slave society controlled by Europeans, the Portuguese colony of São Tome. Increasingly, scholars of West Africa are creating dialogues with scholars of the African diaspora. Mann and Bay 2001 links the Bight of Benin to Brazil, Byrd 2008 links the Bight of Biafra to Jamaica and Sierra Leone, and Carney 2001 links the rice-producing regions of West Africa to places where the crop surfaced in the New World, notably South Carolina.

  • Barry, Boubacar. Senegambia and the Atlantic Slave Trade. Translated by Ayi Kwei Armah. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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    Originally published in French in the late 1980s, this work examines the Senegabian region from the 1400s to the 1800s. Barry argues that despite its low volume compared to locations such as Angola or Biafra, the transatlantic slave trade had a decisive impact on the Senegambian region beyond the enslaving and exporting of slaves.

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  • Batista de Sousa, Izequiel. São Tomé et Principe de 1485 à 1755 une société coloniale: Du blanc au noir. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2008.

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    São Tomé was one of the first colonies to be created as a slave society where Europeans commanded the labor of enslaved sub-Saharan Africans. The social and cultural dynamics explored in this book make it essential for understanding Atlantic slavery and the creation of racialized labor regimes.

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  • Byrd, Alexander X. Captives and Voyagers: Black Migrants across the Eighteenth Century. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008.

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    An innovative study that examines two streams of African migration in the Anglo-Atlantic world: (1) “voyagers” of African descent liberated from slave ships and free black migrants from Great Britain and the United States who settled in Sierra Leone; and (2) “captives” or enslaved Africans from the Bight of Biafra imported into Jamaica as a result of the transatlantic slave trade.

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  • Carney, Judith Ann. Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001.

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    Innovative study by a historical geographer, building on the work of earlier historians to argue that rice production indigenous to West Africa was transferred to the Americas by slaves, not by Europeans. Carney argues that enslaved Africans were responsible for transferring the seed, the cultivation skills, and the cultural practices necessary for establishing the crop in the Americas.

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  • Law, Robin. The Oyo Empire, c. 1600–c.1836: A West African Imperialism in the Era of the Slave Trade. Oxford: Clarendon, 1977.

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    Law demonstrates how the Oyo Empire benefited materially and militarily from its participation in the transatlantic slave trade, as slaves were taken from neighboring polities and political enemies. The enslavement of neighboring groups weakened their rivals and contributed to the centralization of power by the kings of Oyo.

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  • Law, Robin. The Slave Coast of West Africa, 1550–1750: The Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on an African Society. Oxford: Clarendon, 1991.

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    A detailed and extensively documented examination of the importance of the “slave coast” of West Africa for Atlantic slavery. Chronological focus is on the expansion of slave exports during the 17th and early 18th centuries, with the rise of Dahomey as a militarized and more politically centralized state.

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  • Mann, Kristin. Slavery and the Birth of an African City: Lagos, 1760–1900. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.

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    A thoroughly researched and innovative treatment of the rise of Lagos as a city tied to the transatlantic slave trade. As the trade was gradually abolished in the 19th century, Lagos began to play an elevated role in Atlantic slavery, as it was one of the last major exporting ports for slaves to Brazil and Cuba.

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  • Mann, Kristin, and Edna G. Bay, eds. Rethinking the African Diaspora: The Making of a Black Atlantic World in the Bight of Benin and Brazil. London: Routledge, 2001.

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    Originally a special issue of the journal Slavery and Abolition, and subsequently published as a book, this edited collection provides historiographic and methodological insights into the ongoing research project of linking exporting regions in Africa (Bight of Benin) with importing regions in the Americas (Salvador da Bahia, Brazil). Especially illustrative of the influence of the kingdom of Dahomey in shaping the culture and experience of slaves in Brazil.

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Central Africa

The geographic region of Central Africa, in particular the kingdom of Kongo and the Portuguese colony of Angola, left an indelible mark on Atlantic slavery as the primary point of origin for slaves transported to the New World. The Central African historical experience was in some ways unique because the Portuguese had firmly established themselves in the region with their colony of Angola in the 16th century and had a political, commercial, and religious presence in the region from the 1500s. Most of the literature on slavery in Central Africa deals in one way or another with the Portuguese dynamic in shaping Central African history from 1500 to the present. Marques 2004 and Thornton 1983 focus on the cultural and political interactions dealing with slavery between the Portuguese and the various Central African polities. As the Portuguese were the only Atlantic power that had a significant colony in both the African mainland (Angola) and the New World (Brazil), Alencastro 2000, Heywood 2002, and Heywood and Thornton 2007 show in detail the multiple connections between the two regions. The Portuguese presence in reshaping the religious worldview of Central Africans through Catholicism is analyzed by Thornton 1998, and the creation of specialized armies that over time evolved into an ethnicity is examined by Isaacman and Isaacman 2004.

  • Alencastro, Luiz Felipe de. O trato dos viventes: Formação do Brasil no Atlântico Sul, séculos XVI e XVII. São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 2000.

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    Excellent study linking the histories of the Portuguese colony of Angola with the rise of slavery in southern Brazil during the 16th and 17th centuries. Especially noteworthy is how the author ties the two regions together by the experiences of people in both locations.

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  • Heywood, Linda M., ed. Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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    A collection of chapters that examine the social and cultural history of Central Africans in Africa from the Kongo/Angola region and their dispersal throughout the Americas. Collectively, the various authors argue that among the enslaved in the Americas, Central Africans had a far more decisive influence in shaping diasporic culture than did other African ethnicities.

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  • Heywood, Linda M., and John K. Thornton. Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the Foundation of the Americas, 1585–1660. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    Exhaustively researched empirical study of the political and military history of the Central African Kongo/Angola region during the 16th and 17th centuries, with emphasis on interactions with the Portuguese. Authors argue that out of these political, military, and cultural interactions, often with missionaries, an “Atlantic Creole” culture formed within Africa itself that would influence the development of slavery in the Americas.

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  • Isaacman, Allen F., and Barbara Isaacman. Slavery and Beyond: The Making of Men and Chikunda Ethnic Identities in the Unstable World of South-Central Africa, 1750–1920. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2004.

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    An innovative and fascinating study of the enslaved armies employed first by the Portuguese to monitor the enslaved population in Africa. Over time, however, the Chikunda emerged as their own ethnic cultural group that performed a range of tasks as hunters, traders, and men engaged in activities in support of state-building.

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  • Marques, João Pedro. Portugal e a escravatura dos africanos. Lisbon, Portugal: Imprensa de Ciências Sociais, 2004.

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    Brief and succinct overview of the Portuguese role in slavery within Central Africa, with a special focus on the colony of Angola.

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  • Thornton, John K. The Kingdom of Kongo: Civil War and Transition, 1641–1718. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983.

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    Pioneering analysis of the kingdom of Kongo, making wide use of manuscript sources from European archives. Provides important social and cultural historical insights into the kingdom of Kongo, which figured as one of the largest exporting regions of slaves to the Americas from the 16th to 18th centuries.

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  • Thornton, John K. The Kongolese Saint Anthony: Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita and the Antonian Movement, 1684–1706. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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    Fascinating account of the Christian religious movement led by Dona Beatriz Kimpa Vita in the kingdom of Kongo. Kimpa Vita claimed to be possessed by Saint Anthony, argued that Jesus was a Kongolese, and criticized missionaries for not supporting black saints.

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Transatlantic Slave Trade

Just as scholars of New World slavery are recognizing the importance of understanding slavery in West and Central Africa for interpreting slavery in the Americas, the same can be said for a renewed attention to the scholarship on the Middle Passage. A significant body of this scholarship has emerged directly and indirectly in response to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (cited under Primary Sources). While various scholars are engaged in what has been called the “number games” of demography (e.g., Klein 1999, Eltis 2000, Eltis and Richardson 2009) to analyze the forced migratory routes of the slave trade and their impact on New World colonies, a significant body of literature also examines the cultural and social history of the slave trade. Harms 2002 and Diouf 2007 provide excellent microhistories of two slave-trading ships in the 18th and 19th centuries to analyze the transatlantic slave trade in detail. In a similar vein, Rediker 2007 and Smallwood 2007 creatively and insightfully explore the interior worlds of those subject to the horrific Middle Passage. Drawing upon decades of exhaustive research, Miller 1988 analyzes the Angola slave trade from deep in the interior to a final destination in Brazil, and Law 2004 insightfully analyzes the rise and fall of the slave trade and the particular role of African merchants through an encyclopedic account of the West African port of Ouidah.

  • Diouf, Sylviane A. Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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    Detailed microhistory of the arrival in 1860 of a slave ship in Alabama fifty years after the “legal” transatlantic slave trade to the United States had been abolished. After the US Civil War, the Africans on board bought their own land and ruled it according to customary African laws.

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  • Eltis, David. The Rise of African Slavery in the Americas. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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    A deeply researched and innovative approach to studying the rise of slavery in the Americas, drawn mainly from the British experience. Despite marshalling and analyzing an impressive body of demographic and economic data, Eltis concludes that slavery in the Americas can best be understood through cultural categories.

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  • Eltis, David, and David Richardson, eds. Extending the Frontiers: Essays on the New Transatlantic Slave Trade Database. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.

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    Drawing upon the expanded and updated Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, this volume analyzes and highlights the new findings that complement and revise the 1999 database.

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  • Harms, Robert. The Diligent: A Voyage Through the Worlds of the Slave Trade. New York: Basic Books, 2002.

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    Drawing primarily from the log of a French slave ship’s voyage in 1731–1732, and then building around that source with additional research, Harms provides a detailed account of the Atlantic slave trade from the African port of Whydah, including the Middle Passage and disembarkation in Martinique.

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  • Klein, Herbert S. The Atlantic Slave Trade. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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    A succinct and concise overview of the Atlantic slave trade, drawing upon the latest literature and databases. Intended for undergraduates but useful for even the most advanced scholars, as Klein makes specific and broad interpretive arguments on what the “numbers” (demographics) of the slave trade mean.

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  • Law, Robin. Ouidah: The Social History of a West African Slaving “Port,” 1727–1892. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2004.

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    Perhaps the most detailed and thoroughly documented study in English on a specific exporting port for the transatlantic slave trade. Law focuses on the indigenous African merchants at Ouidah (Whydah) and their negotiation and relations with the Dahomey and the Europeans.

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  • Miller, Joseph C. Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730–1830. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

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    Exhaustive and authoritative treatment on the mechanisms of enslavement in Africa, the Middle Passage, and the impact on Brazilian slavery. A pioneering work in Atlantic history and still the standard reference for understanding the 18th-century Angolan slave trade to southern Brazil.

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  • Rediker, Marcus. The Slave Ship: A Human History. New York: Viking Penguin, 2007.

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    A passionate and moving history of the Middle Passage experience, displaying a thorough command of the sources, albeit privileging the British experience. Rediker does not limit his analysis to slaves confined to the “floating dungeons” but also explores the social and cultural history of sailors and captains on the ships.

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  • Smallwood, Stephanie E. Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.

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    An innovative and inventive history of the cultural and psychological transformations that the transatlantic slave trade produced among enslaved Africans as a result of the Middle Passage. Smallwood charts the cultural process of how West Africans were transformed from people into Atlantic commodities.

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Brazil

No other colony or country in the history of Atlantic slavery was so thoroughly shaped by the institution as Brazil. Of the estimated 11 million Africans who crossed the Atlantic via the horrific Middle Passage, roughly 40 percent ended up in Brazil. Moreover, Brazil was the first location in the Americas that emerged as a slave society, and slavery lasted longer there than in any other New World location. Final abolition only came in 1888. The literature on Brazilian slavery is vast (as the bibliographic aids cited in Reference Works and Bibliographies indicate).

Colonial Brazil

The works cited here offer only a sampling of the role of slavery in Brazil’s colonial history. Metcalf 2005 and Schwartz 1985 address the role slavery played in the foundation of Brazil, the transition from Indian slavery to African slavery, and the establishment of sugar as the dominant crop of the colony. Soares 2000, Mello e Souza 2002, and Sweet 2003 focus on the religious worldview of slaves in Brazil and how their Central African beliefs were transferred to and transformed in the New World. The gender dynamics of slavery in Brazil are analyzed by Furtado 2009 through the biography of a former slave, Chica da Silva, and Higgins 1999 analyzes the gendered division of labor in the gold-mining region of Minas Gerais. Dantas 2008 provides an insightfully comparative treatment of urban slavery by contrasting experiences in Brazil and the United States.

  • Dantas, Mariana L. R. Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in the Eighteenth-Century Americas. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

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    An innovative and thoroughly researched comparative study of the enslaved and free black populations in 18th-century Baltimore, United States, and Sabará, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

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  • Furtado, Junia Ferreira. Chica da Silva: A Brazilian Slave of the Eighteenth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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    Despite the title, the book largely deals with the life of Chica da Silva after she was freed. A fascinating account of the social and sexual history, and the myths and memory, surrounding one of the most famous persons of African descent in Brazilian history.

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  • Higgins, Kathleen J. “Licentious Liberty” in a Brazilian Gold-Mining Region: Slavery, Gender, and Social Control in Eighteenth-Century Sabará, Minas Gerais. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

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    An examination of the gendered dimensions of slavery through a focus on gold production and the urban environment. Higgins demonstrates how a gendered division of labor shaped the slave regime and how gender influenced patterns of manumission and resistance.

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  • Mello e Souza, Marina. Reis negros no Brasil escravista: Historia da Festa de Coroação de rei Congo. Belo Horizonte, Brazil: UFMG, 2002.

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    Fascinating account of the theatrical ceremony of recreating the coronation of a Central African king of Kongo, which was performed by people of African descent in Africa, Europe, and Brazil. Mello e Souza investigates the ceremonial practices to explore how African cultural practices were recreated and reimagined under slavery.

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  • Metcalf, Alida C. Go-betweens and the Colonization of Brazil, 1500–1600. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005.

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    Detailed examination of the first century of Portuguese colonization of Brazil, emphasizing the role of intermediaries in establishing the practice of indigenous and African slavery. Also includes a chapter on the intellectual history of slavery as an institution central to building the Portuguese empire from the 1400s to the 1600s.

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  • Schwartz, Stuart B. Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550–1835. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

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    An encyclopedic account of Brazilian slavery and the sugar industry from the 16th century through the first third of the 19th century. Emphasizing a social history approach, in the first half of the book Schwartz explains the rise and transformations of Brazilian slavery over nearly three centuries. In the other half he analyzes slave life, manumissions, labor, and resistance.

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  • Soares, Mariza de Carvalho. Devotos da cor: Identidade etnica, religiosidade e escravidão no Rio de Janeiro, seculo XVIII. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Civilizacão Brasileira, 2000.

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    Excellent study, thoroughly documented from religious sources, on the Afro-Brazilian lay religious brotherhoods. Soares argues that the institution of the Catholic Church allowed for the transference and transformation of African ethnic identities under slavery.

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  • Sweet, James H. Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441–1770. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

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    Drawing upon a wealth of Inquisition sources and grounding these in precolonial African history, Sweet makes a bold and convincing argument for the ongoing persistence of a Central African cosmology in Brazil. He convincingly demonstrates that African belief systems not only survived in Brazil under slavery, but thrived.

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19th-Century Brazil

While emancipation tides crashed on the shores of many New World slave societies around 1800, Brazil, Cuba, and the United States would all witness the expansion of Atlantic slavery in the 19th century. A significant body of work on Brazilian slavery in the 19th century focuses on slave resistance as cultural, individual, and collective acts that challenged the institution. Written by the preeminent scholar of 19th-century Brazilian slavery, Reis 1993 provides a fascinating account of the 1835 Muslim uprising in Bahia. Chalhoub 1990 insightfully analyzes how individual acts of resistance during the last years of slavery sped up the abolition process. Karasch 1987 provides an encyclopedic account of urban slavery in Rio de Janeiro, while Nishida 2003 looks at the urban institution in Salvador through the lens of gender, ethnicity, and race. The slave family is insightfully analyzed by Slenes 1999, which makes illuminating connections between African and Brazilian kinship patterns. Religion and Brazilian slavery in the 19th century, in particular the tensions between the perpetuation of African-derived belief systems and their ongoing adaptation to their New World environment, are chronicled by Kiddy 2005, through a focus on Catholic religious brotherhoods; Matory 2005, by an examination of candomblé; and Reis 2008, a biography of a candomblé priest.

  • Chalhoub, Sidney. Visões da liberdade. São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 1990.

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    Detailed analysis of how slaves struggled to define their own freedom during the last decades of Brazilian slavery. Focusing on individual action set against the larger structural transformation that ushered in abolition, Chalhoub argues that by everyday actions slaves decisively influenced and hastened the abolition of slavery.

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  • Karasch, Mary C. Slave Life in Rio de Janeiro, 1808–1850. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.

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    An encyclopedic and lavishly illustrated analysis of the slave experience in Rio de Janeiro in the first half of the 19th century up until abolition. Examines the urban slave experience from labor, family, gender, and ethnic angles, with particular attention on manumission and resistance.

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  • Kiddy, Elizabeth. Blacks of the Rosary: Memory and History in Minas Gerais, Brazil. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005.

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    An account of the lay religious brotherhoods dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary in Brazil. Analyzes how free people of color and slaves participated in the brotherhoods and how in joining these societies they created a sense of community and a distinct Afro-Brazilian Catholicism.

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  • Matory, James Lorand. Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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    Postmodern treatment of the Afro-Brazilian religion of candomblé by a historical anthropologist, based on archival research and fieldwork in Brazil, Yorubaland, and the United States. Matory makes a bold argument and poignant critique against scholars who tend to regard “African” religions as evidence of cultural retentions rather than treating them as innovative and nuanced belief systems.

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  • Nishida, Mieko. Slavery and Identity: Ethnicity, Gender, and Race in Salvador, Brazil, 1808–1888. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

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    Detailed examination of the urban dimension of slavery in 19th-century Salvador de Bahia. Nishida focuses on and explores how slaves defined and expressed their own identity through African ethnicity (creole or African-born), gender, and labor patterns.

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  • Reis, João José. Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The 1835 Muslim Uprising in Bahia. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.

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    Detailed account of the 1835 Malê slave rebellion in Bahia. Based on a thorough command of the legal proceedings, Reis explores the ethnic and religious ties of solidarity that came together in the rebellion, as well as the tensions that marked the urban slave experience of the 19th century.

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  • Reis, João José. Domingos Sodré, um sacerdote africano: Escravidão, liberdade e candomblé na Bahia do século XIX. São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia das Letras, 2008.

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    An exhaustively researched and fascinating account of a freed former slave. Reis powerfully narrates the complex and contradictory experiences of people of African descent in Brazil: Sodré was a candomblé priest, yet he was actively involved with a Catholic brotherhood; he owned slaves himself, yet he also assisted in emancipating slaves.

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  • Slenes, Robert W. Na senzala, uma flor: Esperanças e recordações na formação da família escrava. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Editora Nova Fronteira, 1999.

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    Excellent account of the slave family in Brazil, with special attention to how African conceptions of the family and family relations shaped the enslavement experience. Largely focused on the region of Campinas in the province of São Paulo.

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Mainland Spanish America

Spain was the colonial pioneer in the New World, and wherever the Spaniards went, African slaves could be found. After initially setting up cities and plantations in the Caribbean, Spain focused on mainland Latin America, and on Mexico and Peru in particular. Consequently, the major destinations for slaves in 16th-century Spanish America were Mexico and Peru, despite the presence of large indigenous populations. Recently, scholars have expressed newfound interest in emphasizing the African dimension to 16th- and 17th-century New Spain. Bennett 2003 and Bennett 2009 draw on church records to portray a dynamic Afro-Mexican community, primarily in Mexico City. Bristol 2007 employs Inquisition records to explore the belief systems of slaves in Mexico. Restall 2009 insightfully triangulates the roles of enslaved and free blacks in colonial Yucatan between Spaniards and Mayans. For colonial Peru, the pioneering work of Bowser 1974 remains worthy of consultation more than thirty years after first publication. De Jesús 2004 offers a fascinating look into the worldview of an Afro-Peruvian nun, placed in its historical context by Van Deusen. Hünefeldt 1994 analyzes family and gender dynamics of slavery in Lima and how they factored into manumission and abolition in the 19th century.

  • Bennett, Herman L. Africans in Colonial Mexico: Absolutism, Christianity, and Afro-Creole Consciousness, 1570–1640. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.

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    Analyzes the enslaved and freed population of African ancestry in Mexico, with a special focus on how they employed Iberian institutions such as the courts and the church to ameliorate their conditions, construct family relations, and achieve their freedom.

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  • Bennett, Herman L. Colonial Blackness: A History of Afro-Mexico. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.

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    A revisionist history that narrates the experiences of the enslaved and free Afro-Mexican population beyond labor, repression, and resistance. Through Inquisition and ecclesiastical records, Bennett attempts to reconstruct and reimagine the internal lives of slaves and free people of color.

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  • Bowser, Fredrick P. The African Slave in Colonial Peru, 1524–1650. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1974.

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    Pioneering and still invaluable account of slaves and free people of color in early colonial Peru, demonstrating their centrality to the social and economic history of Lima.

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  • Bristol, Joan Cameron. Christians, Blasphemers, and Witches: Afro-Mexican Ritual Practice in the Seventeenth Century. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.

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    Based on detailed Inquisition records, Bristol analyzes the beliefs and practices of the Afro-Mexican population.

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  • de Jesús, Ursula. The Souls of Purgatory: The Spiritual Diary of a Seventeenth-Century Afro-Peruvian Mystic, Ursula de Jesús. Translated, edited, and with an introduction by Nancy E. Van Deusen. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004.

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    Diary of a 17th-century slave who labored in a convent until experiencing a miracle, which gave her the ability to communicate with souls in Purgatory and subsequently resulted in a nun’s freeing her. The selections from the diary and the introduction by historian Van Deusen provide a detailed glimpse into the female religious life for slaves and free people of color.

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  • Hünefeldt, Christine. Paying the Price of Freedom: Family and Labor among Lima’s Slaves, 1800–1854. Translated by Alexandra Stern. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

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    Detailed analysis of family relations among Lima’s enslaved population, examining how the family often provided the resources, networks, and strategies in the manumission process. Builds on Tannenbaum 1946 emphasizing Iberian institutions in charting a path to freedom but emphasizes individual and familial actions as the key to emancipation.

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  • Restall, Matthew. The Black Middle: Africans, Mayas, and Spaniards in Colonial Yucatan. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009.

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    Detailed account of the social, institutional, and cultural history of the enslaved and free population of African descent in colonial Yucatan. Thoroughly documented by employing local, national, and imperial sources.

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North America

The scholarship on slavery in the United States far surpasses the overall quantity for any other slave society in human history. The particularly voluminous scholarship is a product of the nation’s large population, numerous colleges and universities, and, most importantly, the prominent and ongoing legacies of race and slavery in American politics and culture.

Colonial North America

Slavery in colonial North America, compared to other New World slave societies, was unique in the relatively low number of total imports directly from Africa: only 400,000 out of the estimated 11 million who crossed the Atlantic. Related to this phenomenon is its other distinguishing feature: the relatively rapid creolization of the slave population from cultural and demographic perspectives. Berlin 1998 insightfully charts and synthesizes the transformations in the slave populations across space and time for the first two centuries of American slavery. Gomez 1998 explores the African background and ongoing influence of African cultural practices among the enslaved population. Morgan 1998 provides an encyclopedic comparative account of slavery in the 18th-century Chesapeake region and the Low Country, synthesizing more than twenty-five years of the author’s own research and publications in a single volume. The particularities of place and time in shaping slavery in various regions of the colonial United States are insightfully analyzed for Louisiana in Ingersoll 1999, for South Carolina in Olwell 1998, and for Native American slavery in the Southwest borderlands in Brooks 2002. Morgan 2004 covers the gendered dynamics of colonial slavery with considerable nuance, focusing on women as producers and reproducers. The contradictions of slavery during the American Revolution, and in particular the opportunities for slaves to obtain their freedom, are told from a fascinating global perspective in Pybus 2006.

  • Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.

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    Innovative and synthetic account of US slavery during the 17th and 18th centuries. Berlin pays special attention to regional variations within the United States, as well as charting cultural transformations from an African to a creole identity.

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  • Brooks, James. Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

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    Fascinating account of Native American and Iberian practices of enslaving, servitude, and kinship in the borderlands, which Brooks argues formed a “slave system.”

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  • Gomez, Michael A. Exchanging Our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

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    A historian trained in African history, Gomez brings a nuanced perspective on the emergence of slave cultures in the US South. Especially noteworthy is making links between African and American historiography and causal arguments about how specific African cultures shaped different regions of the country.

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  • Ingersoll, Thomas N. Mammon and Manon in Early New Orleans: The First Slave Society in the Deep South, 1718–1819. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1999.

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    Exhaustively researched in judicial, sacramental, notarial, and government archival sources, this work provides a sweeping and detailed study of the African American experience in 18th-century New Orleans.

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  • Morgan, Jennifer L. Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery. University Park: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.

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    Innovative study that focuses on enslaved women as both producers of labor through enslavement and reproducers of laborers by bearing children. Makes important contributions to how gender, childbirth, and child rearing figured prominently in racial ideologies.

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  • Morgan, Philip D. Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Low Country. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

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    Encyclopedic account of slavery in Virginia and South Carolina, based on more than twenty-five years of research and previous publications. Brilliantly illuminates the commonalities and differences among the two regions and how slavery permeated all aspects of life for masters, slaves, and colonists.

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  • Olwell, Robert. Masters, Slaves, and Subjects: The Culture of Power in the South Carolina Low Country, 1740–1790. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998.

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    Engagingly written and deft analysis of the contentious relations that governed master-slave dynamics, with special attention to gender, legal culture, urban labor dynamics, and how the political relations between crown and colony ideologically buttressed the relationship between masters and slaves.

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  • Pybus, Cassandra. Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty. Boston: Beacon, 2006.

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    Fascinating account of runaway slaves who joined the British during the American Revolution in exchange for freedom. After ending up on the losing side, they became scattered to all corners of the British Empire, from Canada and London to Sierra Leone and Australia.

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Antebellum United States

American slavery survived the War of Independence and in many ways became stronger as an institution. Local, state, and national laws enshrined slavery as a “legal” practice of human domination while freedom was declared and celebrated as an inalienable right for white males. Following the American Revolution, the slave population grew dramatically by natural increase to four million by the time of the Civil War, making the United States the largest slave society in the New World. The latest generation of scholarship on slavery in the antebellum United States has focused particularly on the cultural aspects of slavery and the “slave community” as the lens of study. No other historian writing on US slavery has exercised the same degree of influence in shaping interpretations as Eugene D. Genovese with his controversial “paternalism thesis” (Genovese 1974). At least until the 1990s, almost all work on antebellum slavery was cast in either confirmation or refutation of his work. Deyle 2005 and Johnson 1999 tackle the internal slave trade and the demographic transformation of slave populations from states bordering the Atlantic to the cotton belt. Smith 1997 deftly analyzes the ongoing process of modernization of agricultural production in the South and its influence on slavery in particular. Innovative explorations of what defines a slave community have figured prominently in the literature. A sampling of different approaches can be found in Joyner 1984 and Kaye 2007. Gender and resistance have also been prominent features of antebellum slavery scholarship, as evidenced in Sidbury 1997, Camp 2004, and Glymph 2008.

  • Camp, Stephanie M. H. Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

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    A carefully constructed argument on how personal acts of resistance by slaves broken down along gender dynamics contested the quotidian aspects of enslavement and created a culture of resistance. Camp insightfully argues that everyday acts by women helped to encourage and sustain more violent acts of resistance by enslaved men.

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  • Deyle, Steven. Carry Me Back: The Domestic Slave Trade in American Life. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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    Penetrating analysis of how the internal slave trade in the United States created a new system of slavery once the transatlantic slave trade was abolished in 1808. Slaves as movable property became one of the most important investments in the country, and the widespread buying and selling of slaves challenged the impression that slaves were considered extensions of their master’s family.

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  • Genovese, Eugene D. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. New York: Pantheon, 1974.

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    Arguably the single most important book published on United States slavery in the second half of the 20th century. Employing a Gramscian cultural hegemony framework, Genovese brilliantly explores slave culture from all angles while making a polemical argument that slaves adopted their masters’ paternalistic ideology and used it against them.

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  • Glymph, Thavolia. Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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    Glymph challenges the notion that slave mistresses were subject and beholden to the patriarchal ideology of their husbands, arguing that they wielded power of their own accord. Similarly, she challenges the notion that enslaved women were natural “allies” with the plantation mistress against masters.

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  • Johnson, Walter. Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

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    The most detailed account of the antebellum slave market, focusing on New Orleans where roughly 100,000 men, women, and children were sold. Thoroughly researched in quantitative and qualitative sources, the work examines the slave market to address historiographical debates related to capitalism, paternalism, racism, and resistance.

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  • Joyner, Charles W. Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984.

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    An innovative, anthropologically informed study of the slave culture that emerged in the Low Country of South Carolina. Joiner makes skillful use of the WPA ex-slave interviews of the 1930s as a source for both how slavery was remembered as well as empirical evidence for how slavery functioned in the antebellum era.

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  • Kaye, Anthony E. Joining Places: Slave Neighborhoods in the Old South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

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    A bold new interpretation of antebellum slavery that redefines and enlarges the geographic space of the slave community beyond just the plantation. According to Kaye, slaves actively linked adjoining plantations through marriage, courtship, labor exchanges, and flight to make “slave neighborhoods,” and thereby created a larger world for themselves outside the master dominion.

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  • Sidbury, James. Ploughshares into Swords: Race, Rebellion, and Identity in Gabriel’s Virginia, 1730–1810. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

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    A penetrating cultural interpretation of a slave conspiracy in 1800 Richmond, Virginia, based on a close and careful reading of court records. Sidbury argues that slaves creatively engaged in acts of “cultural appropriation” of dominant religious and political ideas and reforged them into weapons against their masters.

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  • Smith, Mark M. Mastered by the Clock: Time, Slavery, and Freedom in the American South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

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    A fascinating and methodologically innovative account of how conceptions of time and time management decisively shaped the slave system of the US South. Overturns common assumptions that premodern, nature-based seasonality governed conceptions of time during slavery. In contrast, Smith argues that by the 1830s mastering time was one factor among many in managing slavery as a system.

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British Caribbean

Slavery in the British Caribbean has a historiography—and historigraphical debates—extending back to the early 20th century. However, given that Barbados and Jamaica were the two most valuable slave colonies of the British Empire in the 17th and 18th centuries, scholarship has yet to capture that important dynamic from political, economic, social, and cultural angles. As historians are increasingly interested in the Atlantic paradigm and breaking out of the parochial North American perspective, a rich and complex historiography on the other British New World colonies is quickly emerging. The towering book casting a long shadow over British Caribbean slavery remains Williams 1994. Dunn 2000, a pioneering account of the rise of slavery in the 17th-century British Caribbean, remains necessary reading. The collected essays in Craton 1997 offer numerous insights on British Caribbean slavery from economic, political, and social angles. Beckles 1989 and Menard 2006 analyze the transition from indentured servants to African slaves and the rise of the sugar plantation complex in 17th-century Barbados. Burnard 2004 and Brown 2008 offer penetrating analyses of the brutality of slavery in Jamaica through a detailed biography of a sadistic master and a cultural analysis of the incredibly high death rates in the 18th century. Higman 1984 provides an exhaustive demographic assessment of the slave populations between the abolition of the slave trade and the “apprenticeship” period in the 19th century. Adderley 2006 examines the experiences of “liberated Africans” from the slave trade in the British Caribbean from a diasporic perspective.

  • Adderley, Rosanne Marion. “New Negroes from Africa”: Slave Trade Abolition and Free African Settlement in the Nineteenth-Century Caribbean. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.

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    The first detailed analysis from quantitative and qualitative sources of “emancipated” Africans intercepted from the transatlantic slave trade and resettled in the Caribbean. Adderley places her analysis within the literature on the African diaspora to be in dialogue with debates on African versus creolized cultures.

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  • Beckles, Hilary. White Servitude, Black Slavery in Barbados, 1627–1715. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1989.

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    Thoroughly based on sources from English archives, this remains the most detailed account of the transition from indentured servants to enslaved Africans in the first slave society of the British in the New World.

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  • Brown, Vincent. The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

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    An innovative and conceptually imaginative account of what Brown labels the “mortuary politics” that went hand in hand with slavery in Jamaica. The author shows how masters and slaves created dialogues with the deceased that revealed the deadly world of Atlantic slavery.

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  • Burnard, Trevor. Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

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    Fascinating account of a “middling” slave owner who kept one of the lengthiest and longest-running diaries of any slave master in the Atlantic world, recording his activities over several decades. Burnard carefully analyzes the diary in the context of 18th-century Jamaica to provide one the most detailed examinations to date of a Caribbean slave owner and his tyrannical labor and sexual relations with his bound laborers.

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  • Craton, Michael. Empire, Enslavement, and Freedom in the Caribbean. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 1997.

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    A collection of previously published and updated essays by one of the most influential figures in British Caribbean slave studies. The chapters cover such topics as imperialism and slavery, the slave family, sugar production and slavery, and emancipation.

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  • Dunn, Richard S. Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies, 1624–1713. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

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    A classic of Caribbean social history and still relevant for understanding the first century of British Caribbean slavery. The primary focus is on Barbados and the creation of the first British slave society in the New World, but Dunn also deals with Jamaica and other British Caribbean isles. Originally published in 1972.

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  • Higman, Barry W. Slave Populations of the British Caribbean, 1807–1834. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984.

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    An exhaustive account of the demographic data related to the slave population of the Caribbean from the abolition of the transatlantic trade in 1807 to the establishment of the apprentice system in 1834.

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  • Menard, Russell R. Sweet Negotiations: Sugar, Slavery, and Plantation Agriculture in Early Barbados. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006.

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    A brief but sweeping essay that examines the rise of Barbados as an economically successful colony by braiding slavery and sugar production together. Employs an economic analysis developed for the US Chesapeake region to question and “rethink the Sugar Revolution.”

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  • Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery. New ed. Introduction by Colin Palmer. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

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    No other book in British Caribbean historiography has generated such heated debate. Since its original publication in 1944, Williams’s argument that the rise of Caribbean slavery caused the British industrial revolution, which in turn produced the British abolitionist movement, has shaped the field and shows no sign of abating in the near future. The core arguments have since been undermined and qualified, but the questions posed continue to dominate the field.

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French Caribbean

During the second half of the 18th century, the French colony of Saint Domingue, which occupied one-third of the island of Hispaniola, became the most profitable sugar colony in the world. In many ways, the New World sugar plantation complex reached its zenith in Saint Domingue in terms of profitability, exploitation of enslaved African laborers, and their revolutionary response. The colony of Saint Domingue gave rise to the only successful slave revolt in human history, in which slaves overthrew their masters, claimed their freedom, and created their own nation. This singular event in human history has long dominated scholarship on slavery in the French Caribbean. The classic account, and still an emotionally powerful and politically influential history, of the Haitian Revolution is James 1963. Despite the long-recognized importance of the Haitian Revolution, it has yet to attract the scholarly attention it deserves. From the 1980s through the 1990s, David Geggus’s scholarship on the French Caribbean and the Haitian Revolution (especially Geggus 2002) stood out both for its outstanding empirical quality and for the fact that he sustained the field largely by his own work, a small sampling of which can be found in his essays. Dubois 2004a offers the most recent synthesis on the Haitian Revolution and rivals James in terms of capturing the dramatic epic of the event, but it also explores with much more nuance the African background to the rebellion. Since 2000, historians have shown that scholarship on the French Caribbean can both illuminate the Haitian Revolution and focus attention on other interesting topics. Garrigus 2006 examines free people of color, Garraway 2000 provides an intellectual history of racial thought, Weaver 2006 studies enslaved healers, Moitt 2001 analyzes the gendered dynamics of French Caribbean slavery, and Schloss 2009 offers a history of slavery in 19th-century Martinique after the Haitian Revolution.

  • Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004a.

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    The most recent synthesis on the Haitian Revolution, published during the bicentennial. Dubois does an excellent job of making use of the latest scholarship, combined with primary sources, and he writes engaging and elegant prose. He highlights and analyzes the role of slaves in charting the course of the Haitian Revolution.

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  • Dubois, Laurent. A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787–1804. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004b.

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    Excellent study of the impacts of the French and Haitian Revolutions on the colony of Guadeloupe. Particular attention is given to how free people of color and slaves appropriated the ideology of the French Revolution and made it their own by defining themselves as citizens and asserting their rights.

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  • Garraway, Dorris L. The Libertine Colony: Ethnographies of Creolization in the French Caribbean, 1617–1797. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.

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    A perceptive discourse analysis of key and classic texts related to French colonial rule in the Caribbean. Garraway examines these writings to analyze the emergence of racial thought and racism in the slave societies of the French Caribbean.

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  • Garrigus, John D. Before Haiti: Race and Citizenship in French Saint-Domingue. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

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    Thoroughly researched and well-documented study in notarial records of the free people of color before the Haitian Revolution. In particular, Garrigus analyzes their economic roles in colonial society, how republicanism applied to them, and their role in the onset of the revolution.

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  • Geggus, David P. Haitian Revolutionary Studies. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.

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    A collection of previously published and thoroughly updated essays by the leading scholar of the Haitian Revolution. Topics range from social and political history to historiographical issues. An invaluable source for comprehending the state of the field as it applies to slavery in the French Caribbean.

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  • James, C. L. R. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Overture and the San Domingo Revolution. 2d ed. New York: Vintage, 1963.

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    The classic historical and political account of the Haitian Revolution, by a West Indian Trotskyite. James, better than any other historian, captured the dynamic of the Haitian Revolution as catalyzed by the French Revolution, but more importantly, he notes that it quickly took its own course, which only a few scholars have been able to understand. Originally published in 1938.

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  • Moitt, Bernard. Women and Slavery in the French Antilles, 1635–1848. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

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    An insightful synthesis of the gender dimensions of slavery in the French Caribbean from a social history perspective. Incorporates and applies most of the recent findings by scholars related to female slaves and their experiences in terms of labor, family relations, and strategies of resistance.

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  • Schloss, Rebecca Hartkopf. Sweet Liberty: The Final Days of Slavery in Martinique. University Park: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.

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    Focusing on the time period of the French reacquisition of the island from the British in 1802 until abolition of slavery in 1848, Schloss provides a detailed account of Martinique’s social and cultural history during the last decades of French Caribbean slavery.

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  • Weaver, Karol K. Medical Revolutionaries: The Enslaved Healers of Eighteenth-Century Saint Domingue. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.

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    An important contribution to the scholarly understanding of the health of the enslaved and their health practices. Focusing on healers, herbalists, diviners, nurses, and midwives, Weaver shows how new medical practices combining European, Caribbean, and African traditions came together in the colony of Saint Domingue.

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Spanish Caribbean

The Spanish Caribbean was the first location where Spain established its New World colonies as well as the first destination of enslaved Africans in the New World. Nevertheless, the first century of slavery remains grossly understudied, especially given that the lessons learned in the Caribbean in terms of labor relations were most certainly applied to other New World colonies. De la Fuente, et al. 2008, an excellent study of 16th-century Havana, has filled a huge historiographical void and stands as the most detailed study to date. Landers 1999 skillfully extends the Caribbean dynamics of urban slavery to the author’s study of 18th-century Saint Augustine, Florida. Díaz 2000 provides a fascinating account of the roles of religion and royalism in shaping the experiences of the enslaved and free people of color. Cultural analyses of slavery are featured in Howard 1998, an examination of mutual aid and ethnic associations, and in Barcia Zequeira 2003, which focuses on the slave family. The rise and decline of slave labor in Spanish Caribbean sugar production is encyclopedically covered by Moreno Fraginals 1978 for Cuba and by Figueroa 2005 for Puerto Rico. Scott 1985 provides a penetrating analysis of the transition from slave to free labor, with a focus on the agency of slaves in shaping the process.

  • Barcia Zequeira, María del Carmen. La otra familia: Parientes, redes, y descendencia de los esclavos en Cuba. Havana, Cuba: Fondo Editorial Casa de las Américas, 2003.

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    A detailed and thoroughly documented study of the slave family in Cuba, drawing primarily from records that focus on Havana. Barcia structures her book by analyzing the legal and religious constructions of the family by the Spanish colonial regime, as compared with the slaves’ own definitions drawn from their own experiences.

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  • Díaz, María Elena. The Virgin, the King, and the Royal Slaves of El Cobre: Negotiating Freedom in Colonial Cuba, 1670–1780. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000.

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    Fascinating cultural and social history of a community of formerly enslaved free persons of color in colonial Cuba. Provides deft analysis of the voluminous judicial proceedings with careful attention to social and cultural construction of identities.

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  • Figueroa, Luis Antonio. Sugar, Slavery, and Freedom in Nineteenth-Century Puerto Rico. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.

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    Analysis of 19th-century Puerto Rican slavery with most of the focus on the protracted process of abolition and the transition to a wage-labor regime. In particular, Figueroa examines how even after abolition workers were immobilized, and he presents their strategies of resistance to assert their freedom.

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  • Fuente, Alejandro de la, with César García del Pino and Bernardo Iglesias Delgado. Havana and the Atlantic in the Sixteenth Century. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.

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    The most detailed account yet of slavery in Havana during the 16th century. Displays a thorough command of the extant published and archival sources, notably notarial, cabildo, and ecclesiastical records as they document the enslaved experience.

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  • Howard, Philip A. Changing History: Afro-Cuban Cabildos and Societies of Color in the Nineteenth Century. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998.

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    Social and cultural analysis of the voluntary associations formed by free and enslaved blacks in Cuba, with emphasis on their religious aspects and participation in slave rebellions and independence movements.

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  • Landers, Jane G. Black Society in Spanish Florida. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999.

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    A detailed, rich archival study of the enslaved and free black population in Florida, primarily around Saint Augustine. For experiences of slaves and free people of color, special focus is placed on work as urban artisans, family relations, religious activities associated with the Catholic Church, and participation in the militia.

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  • Moreno Fraginals, Manuel. El ingenio: Complejo económico social cubano del azúcar. 3 vols. Havana, Cuba: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1978.

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    An elegantly written and encyclopedic account (first published in 1964) of the Cuban sugar industry, with numerous insights into slave labor and particular attention to slaves as a “factor of production.” Drawing from classical economic theories and Marxism, paired with a thorough command of the relevant sources, Moreno Fraginals regards slave labor as incompatible with the increasingly industrial nature of 19th-century sugar production.

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  • Scott, Rebecca J. Slave Emancipation in Cuba: The Transition to Free Labor, 1860–1899. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985.

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    Pioneering analysis of the transition from an enslaved to a free-labor regime in Cuba. Scott was among the first North American historians in the era of the Cuban Revolution to gain access to Cuban archival materials related to slavery. She demonstrates how individual and collective acts of resistance by slaves shaped the abolition process.

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LAST MODIFIED: 05/10/2010

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199730414-0051

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