African Studies Kongo and the Coastal States of West Central Africa
by
Jelmer Vos
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0052

Introduction

The kingdom of Kongo emerged sometime in the 14th century in the border region of modern northern Angola and the southwestern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. During its heyday in the 16th century, the kingdom exerted influence from its capital in Mbanza Kongo over large areas north and south of the Zaire River, including the coastal states of Loango, Kakongo, Ngoyo, and Ndongo. The kingdom was renowned in Europe for its conversion to Christianity around 1500, which resulted in a steady flow of Catholic missionaries to central Africa (which continued to the 19th century), and its early involvement in the Atlantic slave trade. After opening the slave trade in Kongo in the early 16th century, merchants from Portugal and other European nations also started trading on the Loango Coast, in Angola, and ultimately in Benguela. These different coastal regions and their hinterlands are commonly seen as forming one interconnected zone, labeled West Central Africa, which became the largest regional supplier of coerced labor to the New World on the African continent. After the transatlantic slave trade was effectively abolished in the 1860s, the coastal societies of West Central Africa developed alternative export trades, most notably in ivory, coffee, and rubber. Like the slave trade, these new export trades had deep social and political ramifications in the West Central African interior, where they often strengthened local institutions of slavery. Most of West Central Africa was integrated in the colonial state of Angola.

General Overviews

Historical West Central Africa comprised many different communities, which nevertheless shared common cultural elements and influenced each other through economic and political interaction. This shared cultural, economic, and political past is underlined in a number of general overviews of West Central African history, most of which take a wide geographical approach. Birmingham 1981 and Vansina 1984 focus on a period of roughly four centuries preceding European contact. Miller 1983 and Vansina 1992 concentrate on historical developments in the era of the Atlantic slave trade. Dias 1998 and Vellut 1989 analyze the 19th century, when the slave trade was gradually phased out and new forms of economic interaction with the Atlantic world developed.

  • Birmingham, David. Central Africa to 1870: Zambezia, Zaïre, and the South Atlantic. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

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    Birmingham’s contributions to Volumes 3 to 5 of the Cambridge History of Africa (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1975–1986) are gathered in this book, covering the later Iron Age, the Atlantic era, and the 19th century.

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    • Dias, Jill. “Angola.” In O império africano: 1825–1890. Edited by Valentim Alexandre and Jill R. Dias, 319–556. Lisbon, Portugal: Editorial Estampa, 1998.

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      Outstanding book-length essay on 19th-century Angola, covering the suppression of the slave trade, the transition to legitimate commerce, and the growing impact of Portuguese imperialism.

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      • Miller, Joseph C. “The Paradoxes of Impoverishment in the Atlantic Zone.” In History of Central Africa. Vol. 1, The Early Years, to 1870. Edited by David Birmingham and Phyllis Martin, 118–159. London: Longman, 1983.

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        Assesses the impact of West Central Africa’s integration in the Atlantic world through the slave trade and the 19th-century expansion of the produce trade.

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        • Vansina, Jan. “Equatorial Africa and Angola: Migrations and the Emergence of the First States.” In General History of Africa. Vol. 4, Africa from the Twelfth to the Sixteenth Century. Edited by Djibril Tamsir Niane, 551–577. Paris: UNESCO, 1984.

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          A reconstruction of West Central Africa’s history before European contact, focusing on early state formation and the forest as a dominant ecological force; builds on scholarship from the 1970s and earlier.

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          • Vansina, Jan. “The Kongo Kingdom and Its Neighbours.” In General History of Africa. Vol. 5, Africa from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century. Edited by Bethwell A. Ogot, 546–587. Paris: UNESCO, 1992.

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            A synthesis of the literature published before 1985 on political formations in West Central Africa up to the 18th century.

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            • Vellut, Jean-Luc. “The Congo Basin and Angola.” In General History of Africa. Vol. 6, Africa in the Nineteenth Century until the 1880s. Edited by J. F. Ade Ajayi, 294–324. Paris: UNESCO, 1989.

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              Overview of West Central African history from 1800 to 1880, stressing continuities in African lives between this and earlier periods, as well as changes caused by the progressive incorporation of the region in the world economy.

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              Reference Works

              A number of useful reference works have been published over the years. Broadhead 1992 is a general historical dictionary of Angola, whereas Parreira 1990 is a dictionary specifically written for scholarly users. Freeman-Grenville 1991 is a basic historical atlas containing a number of maps and historical summaries relevant to West Central Africa. Eltis and Richardson 2010 is an atlas specifically on the transatlantic slave trade, which deeply influenced the history of the wider Angola region. Shillington 2004 is a high-quality historical encyclopedia, and Middleton and Miller 2008 offers more-comprehensive treatments of topics. Franco 2011 is an excellent guide to Vatican records on Angola and Congo.

              • Broadhead, Susan H. Historical Dictionary of Angola. 2d ed. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1992.

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                Revision of the first edition by Phyllis Martin, published in 1980 (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow), with a comprehensive introduction to the history of Angola, a detailed chronology, maps, and a bibliography. In 2004, political scientist W. Martin James created a new version of the dictionary, now in its second edition (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2011), containing a number of entries, including bibliographical, on early Angolan history.

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                • Eltis, David, and David Richardson. Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.

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                  Based on data from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, this award-winning atlas provides estimates of slave departures from individual ports in West Central Africa, with maps of the region from the Loango Coast down to Benguela to illustrate the data.

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                  • Franco, José Eduardo, ed. Arquivo secreto do Vaticano: Expansão portuguesa, documentação. Vol. 1, Costa ocidental de África e ilhas atlânticas. Lisbon, Portugal: Esfera do Caos, 2011.

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                    Guide to the documentation in the Vatican archives relating to Portuguese expansion in western Africa and the Atlantic islands, from the late 18th century to the early 20th century, with brief summaries of the individual documents. Contains many references to correspondence on missions in Congo and Angola.

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                    • Freeman-Grenville, G. S. P. The New Atlas of African History. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.

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                      Includes illustrated entries on Portuguese settlements in Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries (pp. 66–67), central African kingdoms from the 15th to the 19th centuries (pp. 70–72), trade in central and southern Africa from the viewpoints of African traders in Kongo (pp. 78–79), Christian missions since the 16th century (pp. 90–91), and European exploration in the 18th and 19th centuries (pp. 92–95).

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                      • Middleton, John, and Joseph C. Miller, eds. New Encyclopedia of Africa. Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2008.

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                        Contains numerous contributions by established scholars on topics related to West Central African history, including entries on Angola and Benguela, the Atlantic slave trade, and historical figures such as Mvemba Nzinga and Njinga Mbandi Ana de Sousa.

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                        • Parreira, Adriano. Dicionário glossográfico e toponímico da documentação sobre Angola: Séculos XV–XVII. Lisbon, Portugal: Editorial Estampa, 1990.

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                          Useful dictionary for information about 15th- to 17th-century documents on West Central Africa.

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                          • Shillington, Kevin, ed. Encyclopedia of African History. London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004.

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                            Contains multiple entries by established scholars on the history of Angola and Kongo, as well as the slave trade at Loango and the Kongo, Teke, and Loango Kingdoms before European contact.

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                            Collections

                            Since the end of the 20th century, a number of established historians have collected their article publications on Angola in single volumes. Examples include Birmingham 1999, Birmingham 2006, Heintze 1996, and Henriques 2003. In addition, Heintze and Oppen 2008 is a useful collection of conference papers dealing with different aspects of transport in precolonial and colonial Angola, by specialists in the field of Angolan history. Cooksey, et al. 2013 concentrates on the cultural history of the Kongo peoples, including the American diaspora, in the context of the transatlantic slave trade.

                            • Birmingham, David. Portugal and Africa. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave, 1999.

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                              Collection of previously published articles by one of the pioneers of Angolan history.

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                              • Birmingham, David. Empire in Africa: Angola and Its Neighbors. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2006.

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                                Another set of previously published essays on the impact of empire on West Central Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries, with a useful selection of further readings at the end.

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                                • Cooksey, Susan, Robin Poynor, and Hein Vanhee, eds. Kongo across the Waters. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2013.

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                                  Volume accompanying museum exhibit on Kongo art in Africa and North America, with short introductory essays on the political, cultural, and religious traditions of the Kongo peoples of West Central Africa and their descendants in the Americas, written by leading scholars in the field.

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                                  • Heintze, Beatrix. Studien zur Geschichte Angolas im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert: Ein Lesebuch. Cologne: Köppe, 1996.

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                                    Collection of previously published articles in German on 16th- and 17th-century Angola. The articles have since been revised and published in Portuguese in Angola nos séculos XVI e XVII: Estudos sobre fontes, métodos e história (Luanda, Angola: Kilombelombe, 2007).

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                                    • Heintze, Beatrix, and Achim von Oppen, eds. Angola on the Move: Transport Routes, Communications and History. Papers presented at a symposium held in Berlin, 24–26 September 2003. Frankfurt: Lembeck, 2008.

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                                      Proceedings of a symposium on transport, movement, and communications in Angola and its hinterland, with contributions in English and Portuguese.

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                                      • Henriques, Isabel de Castro. O pássaro do mel: Estudos de história africana. Lisbon, Portugal: Edições Colibri, 2003.

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                                        Collection of essays on West Central Africa by one of the leading historians of Africa in Portugal.

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                                        Journals

                                        Research on West Central Africa’s precolonial past is published in many different academic journals, not only in the anglophone world but also in Portugal and Brazil. Authoritative publications include the Journal of African History, the International Journal of African Historical Studies, African Economic History, and History in Africa. Important journals from lusophone countries with articles on West Central African history include Africana Studia, Afro-Ásia, Estudos Afro-Asiáticos, and Revista Internacional de Estudos Africanos.

                                        Sources and Methods

                                        Due to the early and continuous presence of Europeans in the interior of Kongo and Angola, West Central Africa has a comparatively deep documentary tradition, dating back to the late 15th century. The first part of this section focuses on published collections of archival records. The second part contains a selection of important narrative accounts by visitors to West Central Africa from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The old documentary record has also allowed scholars to reflect critically on the value of oral traditions in African history and the use of written sources for precolonial history.

                                        Archival Sources

                                        European missionaries, administrators, and military personnel have traveled and resided in West Central Africa since the late 15th century, leaving behind a long paper trail that is unique in the history of sub-Saharan Africa. Many of these papers still lie untouched in Angolan and Portuguese archives, but since the 1930s part of this documentation has been published, facilitating the work of researchers unable to visit the archives. This section contains a number of important collections of primary sources, often edited and/or annotated. In general, these documents are transcribed in Portuguese. The early period of European contact, from the late 15th to the mid-17th centuries, is documented in Brásio 1952–1988; Albuquerque, et al. 1993–1995; and Heintze 1985–1988. Arquivos de Angola is an extensive series of archival sources on a wide range of subjects and from different periods. Oliveira 1968–1971, Santos 1976–1995, and Tavares and Santos 2002 are collections of documents primarily relating to 19th-century events. In addition to these collections, a large number of precolonial narrative accounts of West Central Africa are available in a variety of languages, some of which are mentioned under Narrative Accounts.

                                        • Albuquerque, Luís de, Maria Emilia Madeira Santos, and Maria Luísa Esteves, eds. Portugaliae monumenta africana. 5 vols. Lisbon, Portugal: Imprensa Nacional—Casa da Moeda, 1993–1995.

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                                          Collection of historical documents covering the period of early Portuguese exploration in Africa (1443–1510), including correspondence relating to Kongo.

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                                          • Arquivos de Angola. 1933–1939, 1943–1970.

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                                            Luanda-based journal publishing documents from the Angolan national archives. The first series ran from 1933 to 1939; the second series, from 1943 to 1970.

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                                            • Brásio, António, ed. Monumenta missionária africana: África ocidental. Series 1. 15 vols. Lisbon, Portugal: Agência Geral do Ultramar, 1952–1988.

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                                              Ecclesiastical documents on western Africa from 1471 to 1666. Essential source for scholars of early West Central African history who are unable to visit the archives.

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                                              • Brásio, António, ed. Angola. Vols 1–2. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1966–1968.

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                                                Publication of archival records documenting the history of the Holy Ghost Fathers in Angola since the mid-19th century; includes much correspondence from, to, and about the kingdom of Kongo. Vol. 1, 1596–1867; Vol. 2, 1868–1881.

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                                                • Heintze, Beatrix, ed. Fontes para a história de Angola do século XVII. 2 vols. Stuttgart: Steiner-Verlag Wiesbaden, 1985–1988.

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                                                  Publication of memoirs, accounts, and other manuscripts from the documentary collection of Fernão de Sousa, captain-general of Angola, covering the period from 1622 to 1635.

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                                                  • Oliveira, Mário António Fernandes de, ed. Angolana (documentação sobre Angola). Vols. 1–2. Luanda, Angola: Instituto de Investigação Científica de Angola, 1968–1971.

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                                                    Documents from the Angola collection at the Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino in Lisbon, mostly covering the period from 1879 to 1887 and recording events taking place in this part of Africa during the infamous Scramble for Africa. Vol. 1, 1783–1883; Vol. 2, 1883–1887.

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                                                    • Santos, Eduardo dos, ed. Angolana (documentação sobre Angola). Vols. 3–4. Luanda, Angola: Instituto de Investigação Científica de Angola, 1976–1995.

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                                                      Documents from 1845 (Vol. 3) and 1846 (Vol. 4) collected from a range of Portuguese archives and thematically related to the suppression of the slave trade in Angola.

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                                                      • Tavares, Ana Paula, and Catarina Madeira Santos, eds. Africae monumenta: A apropriação da escrita pelos Africanos. Vol. 1, Arquivo Caculo Cacahenda. Lisbon, Portugal: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical, 2002.

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                                                        Collection of more than two hundred pieces of correspondence between Portuguese authorities and Dembo chiefs in northern Angola, from 1718 to the early 20th century. Includes an introduction, glossary, and essays by Tavares, Santos, and Beatrix Heintze.

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                                                        Narrative Accounts

                                                        This section provides a selection from a wide range of narrative accounts that have been published in Europe since the late 16th century; some have been republished in critical editions. Other accounts are cited in a number of historiographical essays listed under Methods. Pigafetta and Lopes 2002 and Cavazzi 1965 are early descriptions of the famous West Central African kingdoms of Kongo, Matamba, and Ndongo. Travel narratives began appearing in the 18th century. Sebestyén and Vansina 1999 is a text edition of a Portuguese traveler to eastern Angola in 1755. Tuckey 1818 narrates the fateful British expedition up the Congo River in 1816. Heintze 2007 provides an overview of German expeditions to central Africa, most of which took place after 1850, whereas the diaries of a single German explorer are the subject of Heintze 2011. Monteiro 1968 and Jeannest 1883 are particularly useful accounts for documenting the post-1860 transition from slave trading to an export trade in products in northern Angola.

                                                        • Cavazzi, Giovanni Antonio. Descrição histórica dos três reinos do Congo, Matamba e Angola. 2 vols. Translated by Graciano Maria de Leguzzano. Lisbon, Portugal: Junta de Investigações do Ultramar, 1965.

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                                                          Critical edition of Cavazzi’s lengthy account of the history and culture of the peoples living in the Kongo, Matamba, and Ndongo Kingdoms, written by the Capuchin missionary after his first stay in Angola from 1654 to 1667. Originally published in 1687.

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                                                          • Heintze, Beatrix. Deutsche Forschungsreisende in Angola: Ethnographische Aneignungen zwischen Sklavenhandel, Kolonialismus und Wissenschaft. 2d rev. ed. Frankfurt: Lembeck, 2007.

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                                                            Originally published in 1999. Collection of short biographies of German explorers in West Central Africa from 1611 to 1954, with excerpts from their writings. A Portuguese edition is available online. An English version of the introduction was published as “Ethnographic Appropriations: German Exploration and Fieldwork in West-Central Africa” in History in Africa 26 (1999): 69–128 (available online by subscription).

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                                                            • Heintze, Beatrix, ed. Eduard Pechuël-Loesche Tagebücher von der Loangoküste (1875–1876). Frankfurt: Frobenius Institut, 2011.

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                                                              Transcription of the German explorer’s travel diaries from the Loango Coast, with an introduction, maps, and reproductions of thirty-two watercolor paintings.

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                                                              • Jeannest, Charles. Quatre années au Congo. Paris: G. Charpentier et Cie., 1883.

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                                                                Observations of political and economic life on the Kongo coast by a French trader who arrived on the coast in 1869, when the export slave trade had just ended and produce trade was rapidly developing.

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                                                                • Monteiro, Joachim John. Angola and the River Congo. 2 vols. London: Frank Cass, 1968.

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                                                                  Rich account of the peoples of northern Angola by a British mine engineer, who traveled in the country between 1858 and 1873. Originally published in 1875.

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                                                                  • Pigafetta, Filippo, and Duarte Lopes. Le royaume de Congo & les contrées environnantes, 1591. Edited, translated, introduced, and annotated by Willy Bal. Paris: UNESCO, 2002.

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                                                                    Critical edition of the famous 16th-century description of the Kongo Kingdom by the Italian writer Pigafetta and his informant, Portuguese trader Duarte Lopes. Originally published in Rome in 1591.

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                                                                    • Sebestyén, Evá, and Jan Vansina. “Angola’s Eastern Hinterland in the 1750s: A Text Edition and Translation of Manoel Correia Leitão’s ‘Voyage’ (1755–1756).” History in Africa 26 (1999): 299–364.

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                                                                      Unique report of the Angolan interior by Leitão, who traveled to the fair of Cassange near the Kwango River in 1755. Conveys information about the Lunda expansion then in progress, trade routes, and local political developments. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                      • Tuckey, James K. Narrative of an Expedition to Explore the River Zaire. London: John Murray, 1818.

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                                                                        Account of the first scientific expedition to the Congo River, in 1816, containing useful descriptions of local elites and their riches made in the slave trade. Also includes the journal of the Norwegian botanist Christen Smith, who, like Tuckey, died during the expedition.

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                                                                        Methods

                                                                        The value of oral traditions for West Central African history is scrutinized in Heintze 2007 and Thornton 2011. By contrast, Vansina 2004, Vansina 2007, and Heintze 2011b elaborate on the use of written sources for precolonial history. Heintze 2011a is an insightful essay on the production of knowledge in 19th-century Africa.

                                                                        • Heintze, Beatrix. “The Extraordinary Journey of the Jaga through the Centuries: Critical Approaches to Precolonial Angolan Historical Sources.” History in Africa 34 (2007): 67–101.

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                                                                          Examines the relationship between written documentary records and oral traditions by comparing the changing interpretations of the Jaga in European accounts of Kongo and Angola and local African traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                          • Heintze, Beatrix. “Hidden Transfers: Luso-Africans as European Explorers’ Experts in Nineteenth-Century West-Central Africa.” In The Power of Doubt: Essays in the Honor of David Henige. Edited by Paul S. Landau, 19–40. Madison, WI: Parallel, 2011a.

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                                                                            Examines the role of African intermediaries in the creation of anthropological and historical knowledge in the hinterland of Luanda.

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                                                                            • Heintze, Beatrix. “A Rare Insight into African Aspects of Angolan History: Henrique Dias de Carvalho’s Records of His Lunda Expedition, 1880–1884.” Portuguese Studies Review 19.1–2 (2011b): 93–113.

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                                                                              Points out the exceptional value of Carvalho’s travel accounts as a source for writing central African history from an African perspective.

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                                                                              • Thornton, John K. “Modern Oral Tradition and the Historic Kingdom of Kongo.” In The Power of Doubt: Essays in Honor of David Henige. Edited by Paul S. Landau, 195–207. Madison, WI: Parallel, 2011.

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                                                                                Compares modern oral traditions of the Kongo past, and the literature built on them, with historical documentation on the kingdom of Kongo.

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                                                                                • Vansina, Jan. “The Many Uses of Forgeries: The Case of Douville’s Voyage Au Congo.” History in Africa 31 (2004): 369–387.

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                                                                                  Reassessment of the historical value of Douville’s forged account of his travels through the colony of Angola in 1829. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                  • Vansina, Jan. “On Ravenstein’s Edition of Battell’s Adventures in Angola and Loango.” History in Africa 34 (2007): 321–347.

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                                                                                    Compares Ravenstein’s 1901 edition of Battell’s reports of his life in Angola and Loango between 1590 and 1610, which has been extensively used by modern historians of West Central Africa, with the original texts from 1613 and 1625. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                    Political and Social History

                                                                                    Although the early historiography on political and social life in West Central Africa is synthesized in General Overviews, this section comprises the more recent scholarship on precolonial Kongo, Angola, and West Central Africa in general. The new literature not only has deepened the historical knowledge of political and social processes in this part of Africa, particularly the kingdom of Kongo, but also has exemplified major conceptual and methodological advances in the field of African history. Against a focus on static structures, Miller 2001 and MacGaffey 2005 advocate new ways of thinking about precolonial sociopolitical formations in central Africa. Vansina 2004 is a methodologically pioneering study of the political history of the wider Angola region before European contact. The political history of this region is also discussed in works on the Slave Trade from West Central Africa and Slavery in West Central Africa because politics was intricately related to the production of slaves and the organization of the slave trade. For two different approaches to the study of politics in the era of the Atlantic slave trade, see Miller 1988 and Heywood and Thornton 2007.

                                                                                    • 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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                                                                                      Detailed political history of 17th-century Kongo and Angola, paying particular attention to the endemic warfare in both regions that produced the first wave of central African slaves arriving in the Americas.

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                                                                                      • MacGaffey, Wyatt. “Changing Representations in Central African History.” Journal of African History 46.2 (2005): 189–207.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/S002185370400043XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Thorough critique of the ways in which central African states and social structures have been represented in the historical literature. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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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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                                                                                          The first half of this hefty volume analyzes the impact of the Atlantic trade system on political and social formations throughout West Central Africa.

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                                                                                          • Miller, Joseph C. “Central Africa during the Era of the Slave Trade, c. 1490s–1850s.” In Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora. Edited by Linda M. Heywood, 21–69. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                            Examines the lives of central Africans in the 16th to the mid-19th centuries, ultimately with the aim of enhancing our understanding of the Africans who reached the New World as slaves.

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                                                                                            • Vansina, Jan. How Societies Are Born: Governance in West Central Africa before 1600. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2004.

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                                                                                              Political and agrarian history of West Central Africa from the late Stone Age until European contact, relying on archaeological, ethnographic, and linguistic evidence.

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                                                                                              Kongo

                                                                                              The kingdom of Kongo is one of the better-documented political formations in precolonial sub-Saharan Africa, but the historiography since the late 20th century has been dominated by a very limited number of scholars. Thornton 1983 and Hilton 1985 are authoritative histories of the kingdom. Thornton 2001 examines oral traditions on the early history of the kingdom, Thornton 1999 concentrates on the kingdom’s capital, and Thornton 2011 focuses on the reign of the last precolonial king of Kongo. MacGaffey 2000 emphasizes the fundamental dimension of religion in Kongo political culture, whereas Thornton 2006 is important for highlighting the historical role of women in African politics.

                                                                                              • Hilton, Anne. The Kingdom of Kongo. Oxford: Clarendon, 1985.

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                                                                                                Well-documented history of the Kongo Kingdom to the 19th century, with a concentration on the pre-1665 period.

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                                                                                                • MacGaffey, Wyatt. Kongo Political Culture: The Conceptual Challenge of the Particular. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                  Study of Kongo political culture in the late 19th century, on the basis of a reading of ethnographic texts written in the KiKongo language between 1914 and 1916.

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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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                                                                                                    Analyzes the political and social structures of 17th-century Kongo and the fragmentation of the kingdom through the civil wars starting in 1665.

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                                                                                                    • Thornton, John K. “Mbanza Kongo / São Salvador: Kongo’s Holy City.” In Africa’s Urban Past. Edited by David Anderson and Richard Rathbone, 67–84. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1999.

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                                                                                                      Describes the history of the kingdom’s capital from its founding in the late 14th century to 1914.

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                                                                                                      • Thornton, John K. “The Origins and Early History of the Kingdom of Kongo, c. 1350–1550.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 34.1 (2001): 89–120.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/3097288Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Assesses the value both of old and modern oral traditions for a reconstruction of early Kongo history. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                        • Thornton, John K. “Elite Women in the Kingdom of Kongo: Historical Perspectives on Women’s Political Power.” Journal of African History 47.3 (2006): 437–460.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S0021853706001812Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Argues that since the start of the civil war in 1665, elite women began to exercise power in Kongo more openly, taking control of parts of the country, although they never took formal control of the state, as did women in Ndongo and Matamba. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                          • Thornton, John K. “Master or Dupe? The Reign of Pedro V of Kongo.” Portuguese Studies Review 19.1–2 (2011): 115–132.

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                                                                                                            Explores the contexts of Kongo dynastic politics to explain King Pedro V’s strategic alliance with Portugal from his rise to power in 1859 to his death in 1891.

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                                                                                                            Angola

                                                                                                            An excellent piece of political history narrowly defined is Thornton 1991, which examines the rise to power of Angola’s national heroine, Queen Njinga. Santos 2009 is a case study of the relationship between writing and political power in northern Angola. Meanwhile, Curto 1999 and Curto and Gervais 2001 are good illustrations of the information that can be gleaned from the exceptional demographic data available for West Central Africa. Wheeler and Pélissier 2009 is a more traditional political history but is still useful for 19th-century Angola and for its bibliography. Clarence-Smith 1979 studies the rise of Portuguese imperialism in southern Angola from an African perspective.

                                                                                                            • Clarence-Smith, William G. Slaves, Peasants and Capitalists in Southern Angola, 1840–1926. African Studies 27. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

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                                                                                                              Despite the dated Marxist terminology, this remains an authoritative study of the 19th-century expansion of capitalism and empire in the hinterland of Mossâmedes and its impact on local peasant societies. Reprinted as recently as 2008.

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                                                                                                              • Curto, José C. “The Anatomy of a Demographic Explosion: Luanda, 1844–1850.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 32.2–3 (1999): 381–405.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/220347Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                Examines the population history of Luanda at a time when the city’s economic role changed from supplier of slaves to exporter of produce. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                • Curto, José C., and Raymond R. Gervais. “The Population History of Luanda during the Late Atlantic Slave Trade, 1781–1844.” African Economic History 29 (2001): 1–59.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/3601706Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Examines census data from Luanda in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, showing a decline of the total city population resulting from the increased demand for domestic workers in Rio de Janeiro. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                  • Santos, Catarina Madeira. “Écrire le pouvoir en Angola: Les archives ndembu (XVIIe–XXe siècles).” Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales 64.4 (2009): 767–795.

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                                                                                                                    Examines the progressive incorporation of writing into the political structures of the Dembo chiefdoms in northern Angola since the 1600s, which eventually led to the emergence of secretaries as important figures in African political formations. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                    • Thornton, John K. “Legitimacy and Political Power: Queen Njinga, 1624–1663.” Journal of African History 32.1 (1991): 25–40.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700025329Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Analyzes Njinga’s rise to power in Ndongo and Matamba in the context of local discourses over the legitimacy of her rule.

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                                                                                                                      • Wheeler, Douglas, and René Pélissier. História de Angola. Translated by Pedro Gaspar Serras Pereira and Paula Almeida. Lisbon, Portugal: Tinta-da-China, 2009.

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                                                                                                                        Portuguese translation of the original English edition (New York: Praeger, 1971), with three chapters on precolonial Angola and an elaborate, up-to-date bibliography.

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                                                                                                                        The Slave Trade from West Central Africa

                                                                                                                        Almost half of all African slaves carried across the Atlantic in the era of the transatlantic slave trade hailed from West Central Africa. From the late 16th century to 1807, when slave trading was abolished in Great Britain, slaves were shipped to a wide range of American destinations. After 1807, however, the West Central African slave trade was almost exclusively directed to Brazil and Cuba, and it reached unprecedented heights in terms of volume. The first part of this section comprises literature on the first two centuries of the slave trade from West Central Africa, whereas the second part concentrates on the post-1807 era. For the impact of Kongo on the Atlantic world, see related Oxford Bibliographies article Kongo Atlantic Diaspora, by John M. Janzen.

                                                                                                                        The 17th and 18th Centuries

                                                                                                                        The history of West Central Africa has been profoundly influenced by the Atlantic slave trade, and most historical studies of the region are conducted within this context. The standard was set by Miller 1988, which provides a general framework for the study of the slave trade in the wider Angola region. Since then, a new generation of scholars have focused on particular themes, regions, or periods. Candido 2013 concentrates on the slave trade from the port of Benguela and its impact on hinterland communities. Ferreira 2003 covers the slave trade both from Luanda and Benguela, whereas Ferreira 2012 combines a transatlantic perspective with a microhistorical approach to the study of the Angolan slave trade. Heywood and Thornton 2007 links the early slave trade from Kongo and Angola to the dynamics and geography of warfare. Acioli and Menz 2008 and Curto 2003 are useful to begin a study of the merchandise employed in the Angolan slave trade. Domingues da Silva 2013 gives information on the relative importance of the different slaving ports along the coast of West Central Africa.

                                                                                                                        • Acioli, Gustavo, and Maximilano M. Menz. “Resgate e Mercadorias: Uma análise comparada do tráfico luso-brasileiro de escravos em Angola e na Costa da Mina (Século XVIII).” Afro-Ásia 37 (2008): 43–73.

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                                                                                                                          Comparative analysis, using quantitative data, of Brazilian merchandise employed in the Luso-Brazilian slave trades in Angola and the Bight of Benin during the 18th century.

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                                                                                                                          • Candido, Mariana P. An African Slaving Port and the Atlantic World: Benguela and Its Hinterland. African Studies 124. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511997594Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Examines the rise of Benguela in the transatlantic slave trade, paying particular attention to the connections of this colonial outpost to Brazil and the violence resulting from the region’s incorporation in the Portuguese Empire.

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                                                                                                                            • Curto, José C. Enslaving Spirits: The Portuguese-Brazilian Alcohol Trade at Luanda and Its Hinterland, c. 1550–1830. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2003.

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                                                                                                                              Assesses the role of fortified Portuguese wine and Brazilian rum as trade goods in the Angolan slave trade. A Portuguese version, translated from the original doctoral dissertation, was published in 2002 (Lisbon, Portugal: Editora Vulgata).

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                                                                                                                              • Domingues da Silva, Daniel B. “The Atlantic Slave Trade from Angola: A Port-by-Port Estimate of Slaves Embarked, 1701–1867.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 46.1 (2013): 105–122.

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                                                                                                                                Uses the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, available online, to map slave departures from West Central Africa over a period of 167 years, comparing Luanda to ports on the Kongo coast to the north and Benguela to the south.

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                                                                                                                                • Ferreira, Roquinaldo Amaral. “Transforming Atlantic Slaving: Trade, Warfare and Territorial Control in Angola, 1650–1800.” PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                  Examines the regional dynamics behind the slave trade from Luanda and Benguela, as well as the imports of Indian textiles to Angola through Brazil.

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                                                                                                                                  • Ferreira, Roquinaldo Amaral. Cross-Cultural Exchange in the Atlantic World: Angola and Brazil during the Era of the Slave Trade. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139025096Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Examines the cultural, religious, and social influences of the slave trade on Angolan society, through extensively researched reconstructions of the biographies of Africans and slaving merchants.

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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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                                                                                                                                      Firmly based on primary-source material, this study traces the early migrations of slaves from Kongo and Angola to British and Dutch New World colonies. After documenting the formation of Creole societies in West Central Africa and the warfare that produced the majority of the slaves exported from this region, the authors argue that the adoption of European culture and religion by the first generation of enslaved Africans in North America started in Africa.

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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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                                                                                                                                        Landmark study of Portuguese and Brazilian slaving in the South Atlantic and its ramifications in the African interior. Examines the relationship between European mercantilist expansion and the development of slavery in West Central Africa, as well as the integration of the Angolan and Brazilian economies through the slave trade.

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                                                                                                                                        The 19th Century

                                                                                                                                        In contrast to other parts of western Africa, where Atlantic slaving generally declined after the British abolition of the slave trade in 1807, slave exports from West Central Africa expanded in the 19th century. Although after 1830 slave traffic was gradually outlawed in Angola and the Kongo, slaves from these regions continued to be shipped to Brazil and Cuba into the 1860s. Ferreira 2008 and Herlin 2003 focus on this illegal phase of the slave trade, whereas Clarence-Smith 1990 looks at coerced labor leaving Angola after British abolition from a wider geographical perspective and in a larger time frame. Schrag 1985 analyzes the development of one particular trading port on the Congo River during the last eighty years of the Atlantic slave trade. Domingues da Silva 2011 and Vos 2012 examine the origins of slaves shipped from Angola and Kongo in the 19th century.

                                                                                                                                        • Clarence-Smith, W. C. “Emigration from Western Africa, 1807–1940.” Itinerario 14.1 (1990): 45–60.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/S0165115300005672Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Examines regional and demographic shifts in the export of coerced labor from Africa after Britain’s abolition of the slave trade, most notably in the Congo basin and Angola. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                          • Domingues da Silva, Daniel Barros. “Crossroads: Slave Frontiers of Angola, c. 1780–1867.” PhD diss., Emory University, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                            Traces and contextualizes the origins of slaves leaving Angola on the basis of lists of liberated Africans compiled in Havana and Rio de Janeiro between 1832 and 1849.

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                                                                                                                                            • Ferreira, Roquinaldo. “The Suppression of the Slave Trade and Slave Departures from Angola, 1830s–1860s.” In Extending the Frontiers: Essays on the New Transatlantic Slave Trade Database. Edited by David Eltis and David Richardson, 313–334. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300134360.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              Analyzes radical changes in the conduct of the slave trade from Angola after 1830, when Brazil officially made slave imports illegal.

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                                                                                                                                              • Herlin, Susan J. “Brazil and the Commercialization of Kongo, 1840–1870.” In Enslaving Connections: Changing Cultures of Africa and Brazil during the Era of Slavery. Edited by José C. Curto and Paul E. Lovejoy, 260–283. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                Looks at the final decades of the transatlantic slave trade, in which Brazilian and Cuban slavers increasingly operated out of the Kongo area.

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                                                                                                                                                • Schrag, Norm. “Mboma and the Lower Zaire: A Socioeconomic Study of a Kongo Trading Community, c. 1785–1885.” PhD diss., Indiana University, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                                  Studies the 19th-century transformation of the small riverside town of Mboma into one of Africa’s major hubs of the Atlantic slave trade, paying attention both to local social dynamics and the influence of Spanish and lusophone slave traders.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Vos, Jelmer. “‘Without the Slave Trade, No Recruitment’: From Slave Trading to ‘Migrant Recruitment’ in the Lower Congo, 1830–90.” In Trafficking in Slavery’s Wake: Law and the Experience of Women and Children in Africa. Edited by Benjamin N. Lawrance and Richard L. Roberts, 45–64. New African Histories. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                    Uses records of European slave ransoming in the Lower Congo to reflect on the origins of captives and the methods of their enslavement.

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                                                                                                                                                    Slavery in West Central Africa

                                                                                                                                                    Slavery in West Central African societies has an older and longer history than that of the Atlantic slave trade, although the two were intricately connected. Studies that focus on the development of slavery in Kongo, Angola, and Benguela in the context of the Atlantic slave trade include Broadhead 1997, Ferreira 2011, Heywood 2009, and Vansina 2005 and Coghe 2012. Curto 2005 study the fortunes of runaway and liberated slaves in Angola in the period between the closure of the slave trade and the abolition of slavery itself. MacGaffey 2008 and Vos 2010 look at different dimensions of slavery in Kongo toward the end of the 19th century.

                                                                                                                                                    • Broadhead, Susan Herlin. “Slave Wives, Free Sisters: Bakongo Women and Slavery, c. 1700–1850.” In Women and Slavery in Africa. Edited by Claire C. Robertson and Martin A. Klein, 160–181. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                      Examines the incorporation of female slaves in Kongo society in the era of the Atlantic slave trade and its effects on the economic and political power of women.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Coghe, Samuël. “The Problem of Freedom in a Mid Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Slave Society: The Liberated Africans of the Anglo-Portuguese Mix Commission in Luanda (1844–1870).” Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-slave Studies 33.3 (2012): 479–500.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/0144039X.2012.668301Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Compares the ambivalent status of freed slaves as apprentices in 19th-century Angola to the similar experience of liberated slaves in Cuba, Surinam, and Brazil.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Curto, José C. “Resistência à escravidão na África: O caso dos escravos fugitivos recapturados em Angola, 1846–1876.” Afro-Ásia 33 (2005): 67–86.

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                                                                                                                                                          Survey of more than three thousand cases of recaptured runaway slaves in Angola; argues that resistance to Atlantic slavery started in Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Ferreira, Roquinaldo. “Slaving and Resistance to Slaving in West Central Africa.” In The Cambridge World History of Slavery. Vol. 3, AD 1420–AD 1804. Edited by David Eltis and Stanley L. Engerman, 111–131. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CHOL9780521840682Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Bottom-up social analysis of slavery in Angolan regions under formal Portuguese control in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Heywood, Linda M. “Slavery and Its Transformation in the Kingdom of Kongo: 1491–1800.” Journal of African History 50.1 (2009): 1–22.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/S0021853709004228Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Examines the social and political dynamics behind the slave trade in the Kongo Kingdom, as well as the changing terms of eligibility for enslavement within Kongo. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                              • MacGaffey, Wyatt. “Kongo Slavery Remembered by Themselves: Texts from 1915.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 41.1 (2008): 55–76.

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                                                                                                                                                                Reflects on the meaning of slavery in late-19th-century Kongo, as conveyed by indigenous manuscripts from 1915. Argues that slavery was the necessary complement to legitimate matrilineal descent. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Vansina, Jan. “Ambaca Society and the Slave Trade c. 1760–1845.” Journal of African History 46.1 (2005): 1–27.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/S0021853704009910Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Examines transformations in the social organization of the inhabitants of Ambaca in the Luanda hinterland caused by the district’s deep involvement in the Atlantic slave trade. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Vos, Jelmer. “Child Slaves and Freemen at the Spiritan Mission in Soyo, 1880–1885.” Journal of Family History 35.1 (2010): 71–90.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0363199009348285Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Analyzes the redemption of child slaves by Spiritan missionaries in the Lower Congo in the final decade before colonial rule. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                    African Economies

                                                                                                                                                                    Whereas the slave trade dominated the export economy of West Central Africa from the 1500s to 1860, scholars have also begun to focus on other dimensions of Angola’s precolonial economy, including the produce trade that developed in the second half of the 19th century. Parreira 1990 and Venâncio 1996 are general studies of production and trade in Angola in the 1600s and 1700s. Heintze 2002, Henriques 1997, Heywood 2000, and Santos 1998 focus on the long-distance trade in produce, as well as slaves, which expanded in different areas of the Angolan interior during the 19th century. Freudenthal 2005 studies the development of commercial agriculture in Angola after 1850. Vos 2011 analyzes a northern branch of the rubber trade in Angola, Africa’s leading exporter of wild rubber before 1900.

                                                                                                                                                                    • Freudenthal, Aida. Arimos e fazendas: A transição agrária em Angola, 1850–1880. Luanda, Angola: Edições Chá de Caxinde, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Studies the development of commercial agriculture in Angola after the end of the export slave trade.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Heintze, Beatrix. Afrikanische pioniere: Trägerkarawanen im westlichen Zentralafrika (ca. 1850–1890). Frankfurt: Lembeck, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Study of African long-distance traders in the Angolan hinterland, including a lengthy historiographical essay, biographies of caravan leaders, and an essay on the caravan trade in 19th-century Angola. A Portuguese edition was published in 2004 (Lisbon, Portugal: Caminho).

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Henriques, Isabel de Castro. Percursos da modernidade em Angola: Dinâmicas comerciais e transformações sociais no século XIX. Lisbon, Portugal: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical, 1997.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Portuguese translation of a French doctoral dissertation, analyzing the influence of the 19th-century long-distance trade on Imbangala and Tshokwe societies in the Angolan hinterland.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Heywood, Linda M. Contested Power in Angola, 1840s to the Present. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Chapter 1 focuses on economic transitions, related to the growth of long-distance trade, in the Ovimbundu states of central Angola in the half century prior to colonial rule.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Parreira, Adriano. Economia e sociedade em Angola na época da Rainha Jinga, século XVII. Lisbon, Portugal: Editorial Estampa, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Well-researched study of production and trade in 17th-century West Central Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Santos, Maria Emília Madeira. Nos caminhos de África: Serventia e posse; Angola, século XIX. Lisbon, Portugal: Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Studies the development of long-distance trade in central Angola during the 19th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Venâncio, José Carlos. A economia de Luanda e hinterland no século XVIII: Um estudo de sociologia histórica. Lisbon, Portugal: Editorial Estampa, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Sociological study of 18th-century Luanda on the basis of primary and secondary sources. Deals with demography, everyday consumption patterns, different sectors of production, regional trade, and Atlantic commerce.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Vos, Jelmer. “Of Stocks and Barter: John Holt and the Kongo Rubber Trade, 1906–1910.” Portuguese Studies Review 19.1–2 (2011): 153–176.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Analyzes the conduct of the rubber trade in northern Angola, by using correspondence from coastal agents of the Liverpool firm of John Holt & Company Emphasizes the enduring importance of barter in the produce trade in this part of Africa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Religion and Culture

                                                                                                                                                                                    As part of a larger process of cross-cultural exchange with the Atlantic world, many central African communities adapted elements of Christianity to their own religious traditions and spiritual needs. Scholars have long since debated the nature and depth of these conversions and of African adaptations of European culture generally. MacGaffey 1986 represents the view that Kongo cosmology wholly took over the new religion, whereas Thornton 1998, Thornton 2001, and Fromont 2014 emphasize the way Kongo’s unique adaptation of Christianity transformed the local spiritual landscape, specifically within the kingdom itself. Thornton 2013 provides a state-of-the-art treatment of the question of religious syncretism in the kingdom of Kongo. Christianity was less influential north of the Congo estuary because rulers there elaborated their own religious cult to regulate their communal affairs, as Janzen 1981 demonstrates. Heywood 2001 and Kananoja 2010 discuss instances of creolization, or manifestations of a European-African culture, in Angola.

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Fromont, Cécile. The Art of Conversion: Christian Visual Culture in the Kingdom of Kongo. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Examines artistic innovations in the kingdom of Kongo from the 16th to the 19th centuries in the light of Kongo’s adoption of Christianity, by using visual and material cultures to illustrate the emergence of a Kongo Christian worldview.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Heywood, Linda M. “Portuguese into African: The Eighteenth-Century Central African Background to Atlantic Creole Cultures.” In Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora. Edited by Linda M. Heywood, 91–113. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511529108.005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                        Argues that by 1700 a Creole culture had emerged in Portuguese Angola and Benguela, resulting from the Africanization of Portuguese settlers and their culture.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Janzen, John M. Lemba, 1650–1930: A Drum of Affliction in Africa and the New World. New York: Garland, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Studies the Lemba ritual association that connected markets and caravan routes in the Kongo region west of Malebo Pool, while providing protection to individuals and households engaged in Atlantic commerce.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Kananoja, Kalle. “Healers, Idolaters, and Good Christians: A Case Study of Creolization and Popular Religion in Mid-Eighteenth Century Angola.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 43.3 (2010): 443–465.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Discusses religious life and processes of creolization in Angola on the basis of an Inquisition trial against the former captain-major of Ambaca. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • MacGaffey, Wyatt. Religion and Society in Central Africa: The Bakongo of Lower Zaire. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Studies the dynamics of Kongo life from the 15th to the 20th centuries from the perspective of the anthropology of religion, arguing that the Kongo worldview, with its openness to religious change, was not fundamentally affected by the arrival of Christianity.

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511572791Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                Life history of Dona Beatriz, who claimed to be possessed by Saint Anthony and started a Christian religious movement to end the civil wars that were devastating Kongo around 1700. Excellent introduction to the study of Kongo Catholicism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Thornton, John K. “Religious and Ceremonial Life in the Kongo and Mbundu Areas, 1500–1700.” In Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora. Edited by Linda M. Heywood, 71–90. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511529108Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Using contemporaneous documents, analyzes the main features of West Central African religion during the early Atlantic slave trade and its transformation under the impact of Christianity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Thornton, John K. “Afro-Christian Syncretism in the Kingdom of Kongo.” Journal of African History 54.1 (2013): 53–77.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/3491764Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    This article takes up the question of Kongo’s conversion to Christianity by examining how local intellectuals dealt with the obstacles that emerged as they tried to harmonize elements from two different religious traditions. Available online by subscription.

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