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Donas, Nharas, and Signares: Women Slave Traders in Atlantic Africa  

Hilary Jones

Donas, nharas, and signares belonged to a class of women who obtained high social and economic standing in Africa’s west and west central region from the age of the European encounter to the era of mercantile companies and transatlantic slavery. These women owned slaves consistent with the notion of “slavery” or institutions of marginality within their specific West African and West Central African societies. As women who lived in close proximity to European military and mercantile installations on the Atlantic coast, they acted as cross-cultural brokers between European merchants and officials and African elites. Whether through marriages arranged by lineage elders or by relationships of convenience between African women and European men, donas, nharas, and signares entered contractual unions with European men. From the late 16th to the early 19th centuries, these relationships originated Afro-European families and established Afro-European men and some women as a propertied class along Africa’s Atlantic coast. Infamous in the texts of traveler’s accounts written by European men and a few Afro-European men, documentation of this era of women’s influence and their role in the Atlantic commercial system largely resides in European administrative reports and population data, court records and notarized documents, and published and unpublished genealogies.


The Dutch Slave Trade in the Atlantic, 1600–1800  

Pieter Emmer and Henk den Heijer

The Dutch share in the Atlantic slave trade averaged about 5 to 6 percent of the total, but the volume differed sharply over time. The beginning of the Dutch transatlantic slave trade can be dated to 1636, after the Dutch West India Company (WIC) had acquired its own plantation colony around Recife in Brazil. In order to set up a regular trade in slaves, the WIC also took Elmina on the Gold Coast and Luanda in Angola from the Portuguese. The slave trade to Dutch Brazil was short-lived, and after the loss of Dutch Brazil and Luanda, the WIC as well as private merchants from Amsterdam started to sell slaves to colonists in the Spanish, English, and French Caribbean via Curaçao, the WIC trade hub in the region. In 1667, in addition to the small colonies of Berbice and Essequibo, the Dutch conquered Suriname and during the 18th century established Demerara. The Dutch slave trade became more and more focused on these plantation colonies. Between 1700 and 1725, after the Dutch had been banned from selling slaves in foreign colonies, the Dutch slave trade declined, but the volume increased again after 1730 when the WIC lost its monopoly and private shipping companies were allowed to enter the trade. In addition, Amsterdam-based investors poured money into the Dutch plantation colonies expecting windfall profits from a new cash crop: coffee. These profits did not materialize, and the majority of the planters in the Dutch plantation colonies went bankrupt. These bankruptcies, another war with Britain, and the French occupation caused the Dutch slave trade to decline sharply. The last Dutch slave ship sailed to Suriname in 1802. In 1814, the Dutch government yielded to British abolitionist pressure and abolished the slave trade in the hope of regaining its colonial possessions occupied by Britain.


Early Slavery in Bantu and Nilotic-Speaking Africa: The Evidence from Historical Linguistics  

Marcos Leitão de Almeida and William FitzSimons

The history of slavery runs deep in Africa, yet historians have rarely explored the early contexts in which Africans resorted to slaving. The burdens of remembering and reckoning with the global trades in African slaves have no doubt shaped this state of affairs, but examining the early history of slaveries in the continent is critical for understanding central themes of the African past, such as political formation, ethnicity, and economic development. While archaeology often appears silent on this topic, the method of historical linguistics can reveal how northeastern and central Africans resorted to slaving strategies as they settled new places, developed new ways of life, established polities, and faced climate change. Historical research thus shows that “slavery” was never a static institution in the continent, but a fraught category Africans constructed in diverse, albeit related, ways. Accounting for the ways in which Africans built such categories in particular contexts remains a major challenge facing historians of Africa’s earlier past.


Egyptian‐Sudanese Trade in the Ottoman Period to 1882  

Terence Walz

Egypt’s trade in the Ottoman period with the Sudanic kingdoms to its south waxed and waned according to political conditions at either end of its trade routes. During the 16th and 17th centuries, powerful kingdoms developed in the area of Sinnar (near modern-day Khartoum) and to the west in the area of Darfur. The trade route connecting western Sudan to Egypt, known as the Forty Days Road, was ancient, probably dating to the Pharaonic period, but it experienced a remarkable revival in the 17th century when the Keira sultans of Darfur consolidated their rule in western Sudan and engaged in trade with Egypt in order to obtain luxury goods. In the following two centuries, trade between Egypt, Sinnar, and Darfur flourished, the pattern being that Egyptian, Syrian, and European-made goods were exchanged primarily for Sudanic exports of slaves, ivory, ostrich feathers, and livestock. Sudanese merchants, known as jallaba, came to Egypt and Egyptians settled in the Sudan as a result of these developments. Asyut was the town in Upper Egypt chiefly benefiting from the revival of the caravan trade, but the primary trade destination was Cairo, whence most merchants went. In 1820, the Egyptians invaded the Sudan and trade between the two countries fell under a different set of rules and regulations. Initially monopolized by the government, items in the trade began to be sold by individual traders, and after 1839, when the Muhammad Ali, ruler of Egypt, was forced to withdraw from lands his army had conquered in Arabia and the Levant, European free enterprise soon became a major economic force in the Nile Valley. For a brief period, between 1845 and 1860, Egyptian middlemen, working closely with jallaba, profited richly from the Sudan trade, the city of Asyut prospered, but eventually they fell victim to European economic domination.


Enslaved Africans in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia  

Ivan Armenteros-Martinez

In the Middle Ages and the early modern period, slavery was a widespread institution in the Christian-western Mediterranean. Its development was closely related to the systemic changes that took place in the region: the arrival of Islam in the 8th century, the Latin expansion of the 12th and 13th centuries, and the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade (c. 1450). After the arrival of Islam on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, and then the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century, a type of slavery concentrated mainly in the cities began to take shape in western Europe. During the Latin economic and commercial expansion of the 12th and 13th centuries, European merchants expanded their networks to the Black Sea, the Balkans, and the coast of Libya around Barqa, an area that concentrated part of the trans-Saharan slave trade routes. These three regions became the main centers for the exportation of enslaved men and women for the Christian-western Mediterranean. Finally, after the Ottoman expansion in the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea (c. 1370–1480), and the onset of the Atlantic slave trade (c. 1450–1480), Black African slaves became more numerous than those from anywhere else. Medieval Mediterranean societies made intensive and extensive use of slave labor. The slaves’ living conditions were related to the type of jobs they were forced to do, whether exploited directly by their owners or hired by others. After the exponential increase of sub-Saharan slaves, the first Black brotherhoods in the northern Mediterranean appeared, a testimony to the importance that Black slavery had attained by the end of the 15th century.


European Slaves in North Africa and North African Slaves in Europe during the Early Modern Period, up to the 1820s  

M'hamed Oualdi

Men and women were victims of slavery and captivity in the Mediterranean beginning in the 8th century, from the earliest clashes between Islam and Christianity. The enslavement of populations captured from ships or living in coastal regions expanded during the 16th century during battles between the Spanish Habsburg empire and the Ottoman Empire. It grew further over the course of the 17th century as a result of raids led by Muslim and Christian corsairs (privateers). During the early modern period, both Maghrebi and European captives sent letters to their families and to their rulers, as well as petitions to local authorities who kept them enslaved. Europeans published accounts of captivity and redemption. Using these sources and diplomatic ones, historians have estimated that there were as many as 1.25 million Christian captives in the Maghreb between 1530 and 1780 and as many as 2.5 million total captives of various origins in Europe between 1500 and 1800. On both coasts of the Mediterranean, Maghrebi and European captives organized themselves according to kinship, their specific origin, their belonging to a state, and their religion: Catholic missionary priests supervised their flocks, while enslaved Muslims relied on the literacy of judges (men with legal knowledge, known as cadis in Arabic) to help guide their community. Protestants and Jews also had their organizations for ransoming. These communities of slaves and captives disappeared slowly from both sides of the Mediterranean. This process began in the late 17th century and went further in middle of the 18th century, when Christian and Muslim powers signed new peace treaties and liberated their respective captives. By the end of the 18th century, French revolutionary troops liberated the Maghrebi captives in the Italian lands that they were occupying. After Lord Edward Pellew, 1st Viscount Exmouth’s expedition in 1816, European powers liberated a large number of Europeans in the Maghreb.


Financing the Indian Ocean Slave Trade  

Hollian Wint

The finances underpinning the traffic in enslaved people across and around the Indian Ocean is one of the least understood factors of the trade. Comprehension of this complex history requires a consideration of all stages of the slave trade: enslavement mechanisms, the traffic and transportation of captives, and the uses of enslaved labor and capital. It also requires a broad definition of finance. Circulations of capital and credit underpinned the traffic in enslaved people, as much as the trades in Indian Ocean commodities that accompanied human trafficking. The role and business organization of merchant networks is a crucial part of this history. Muslim merchants could draw on a common faith and kinship to organize their commercial relationships, but they also relied on extensive networks of Islamic law. Gujarati merchants pooled capital and labor within extended kinship networks but disputed financial transactions in imperial courts. Both networks, however, depended on their African partners and agents to supply captives and established those relationships through gift-exchange, debt, or manumission. Thus, financial mechanisms, such as debt and pawnship, that were internal to slave-supplying societies were central to enslavement. On the other end of the trade, slave-owners in various Indian Ocean societies mobilized their slaves as security for loans, as credit that could be used to finance trading expeditions that produced more captives or to underwrite agricultural production on slave plantations. Yet credit networks also facilitated the social mobility of enslaved individuals in the Indian Ocean world (IOW), enabling some individuals to participate in commercial life and purchase property and sometimes even their own freedom. Europeans entering the IOW initially participated in and drew upon these existing financial structures of enslavement, trafficking, and slavery. Yet plantation agriculture and artisanal industries that European, Asian, and African societies developed during the long 19th century both intensified Indian Ocean slave trades and demanded new forms of capital investment. In this context, some European capital came from the Atlantic trade. British anti-slavery activities ultimately put an end to the legal traffic of captives across the Indian Ocean, though illegal trades, new forms of bondage, and internal slaveries continued into the 20th century. British interventions disrupted Indian Ocean financial networks more broadly, resulting in new forms of indebtedness in East Africa.


Forced Labor in Portuguese Africa  

Zachary Kagan Guthrie

Forced labor was central to the modern history of the Portuguese empire. It was widely imposed across Angola, Mozambique, São Tomé, and Guinea after the imposition of Portuguese colonial rule in the late 19th century and persisted within the Portuguese empire for decades after it had been abolished by other European powers. The brutal violence and far-reaching social disruption created by forced labor had a profound impact on colonized communities. It was one of the most important ways that individual subjects interacted with the Portuguese colonial state. Forced labor was also fundamental in structuring the economic, political, social, and ideological contours of the Portuguese empire: the colonial economy was deeply dependent on the exploitation facilitated by forced labor, and both the operations of the Portuguese colonial administration and the justification for its existence were closely intertwined with conscripting forced workers. Finally, the prevalence of forced labor in the Portuguese empire precipitated recurring international scandals, which did a great deal to define Portuguese colonialism in the eyes of the world. Studying forced labor has therefore become an important methodology for understanding the depredations of Portuguese colonial rule, its impact on the lives of the people it governed, and the economic and political organization of the Portuguese empire.


Freedom Suits in the Ibero-Atlantic World  

Cristina Nogueira da Silva and Mariana Dias Paes

Throughout the period when slavery was a legally sanctioned institution in the Atlantic and Mediterranean worlds (c. 1500–c. 1888), Africans and their descendants in Europe, Africa, and the Americas approached courts and other institutions to claim their entire or partial freedom. Known as “freedom suits,” these lawsuits allow access to their conceptions of freedom and justice. Mobilizing a common normative framework, enslaved individuals advanced their own interpretations regarding norms that governed slavery and freedom. This common framework, however, acquired specific meanings in different regions, depending on the configuration of the relationship between slave and owner as well as on the agency of the enslaved themselves. Enslaved women and men advanced numerous arguments in courts, but their chances of success varied widely. In the long term, these lawsuits were fundamental in determining the directions that the institution of slavery took in the Ibero-Atlantic world.


Gender and the Study of Slavery and the Slave Trades in Africa  

Vanessa S. Oliveira

Indigenous societies in Africa made use of slave labor and traded in captives. Slavery was one of many forms of dependency and an effective means of controlling people alongside serfdom, clientage, wage labor, and pawnship. In African societies, enslaved individuals could be sacrificed at funerals and in public ceremonies, as well as used in the military and in the production of goods and foodstuffs. Because of their kinlessness and dependent status, some enslaved men and women could hold positions of authority. Women were more wanted in the domestic market, as they played a major role in the production of foodstuffs in agricultural societies and contributed to increasing kinship groups. Indigenous forms of slavery coexisted with demand for enslaved laborers in the trans-Saharan, Indian Ocean, and transatlantic markets from ancient times until the 20th century. The Muslim markets absorbed more women, incorporated as concubines and domestic servants, as well as castrated boys. The transatlantic market, in turn, required more men to work on plantations and in urban occupations. The growing need for slave labor in the Americas and in the Muslim world had profound implications for slavery in Africa. By the late 18th and 19th centuries, the productive use of enslaved labor had become a fundamental feature of the African political economy, resulting in the development of slave societies in various regions of the continent. The demand for captives in the internal and foreign markets resulted in the enrichment of few individuals and firms and in the growth of insecurity and slavery in Africa.


Global Abolitionist Movements  

Benedetta Rossi

Abolitionism succeeded thanks to the struggles of many movements, some genuinely global, others national or local but interconnected at a global level. This article takes a pluralist approach to global abolitionism. Since the late 17th century, the membership, objectives, and strategies of different abolitionist movements have been varied, but they shared the same objective: to impose their understanding of slavery as an aberration that ought to be de-legalized and eventually prohibited worldwide. This article periodizes global abolitionism in three main stages characterized, successively, by the primacy of egalitarianism, imperialism, and internationalism. By the mid-20th century, pro-slavery ideologies were obsolete in Euro-America and had disappeared from official policy globally. They survived in circumscribed contexts in which anti-slavery activists are struggling against the lingering vitality of pro-slavery ideas in the 21st century.


Hausa Diasporas and Slavery in Africa, the Atlantic, and the Muslim World  

Camille Lefebvre

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Hausa diasporas related to slavery were scattered broadly across continents and oceans. Individuals and groups who spoke Hausa, and therefore could define themselves or be considered Hausa, migrated and settled in different areas of the world in relation to slavery and slave trafficking. Hausas participated in the Atlantic, Islamic, and Ottoman slave trades both as slavers and as enslaved cargoes,some Hausas contributed to the management and organization of slave-trafficking operations and others were forced to migrate as slaves. Over the course of the 18th to the 20th century, Hausa diasporas related to slavery altered their trajectories and strategies in response to regional and global transformations, first because of the inclusion of hausa phone areas in the Atlantic slave traffic, secondly because of West African jihads, thirdly because of the gradual end of trans-Atlantic and trans-Saharan slave trafficking in the age of abolition, and at last because of European imperialism.


The History of Mali: Connectivity and State Formation since the 18th Century  

Madina Thiam and Gregory Mann

The Republic of Mali comprises a very diverse population spread over a vast territory composed of a large part of the southern Sahara, the Sahel, and the savannah. One of the world’s great rivers, the Niger, runs through much of the national territory, reaching its northern apex near Timbuktu. For over a millennium, this territory has allowed empires and kingdoms to flourish alongside decentralized societies. These include the empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhay, as well as any number of smaller states, trading diasporas, and nomadic and semi-nomadic communities. The territory of Mali has long been a hub in African commercial and intellectual circuits, notably those linking the societies of the Maghreb (or North Africa) to those bordering the Atlantic. In the 19th century, as elsewhere in Muslim Africa, new and explicitly Islamic states emerged in western and central Mali. They did not endure more than a few decades, as the territory was colonized by France in the late 19th century. The Republic of Mali claimed its independence in 1960 and rapidly developed greater autonomy from French neo-colonialism than did most of its neighbors. Mali has maintained an out-sized diplomatic and cultural role on the African continent and beyond under a socialist government from 1960 to 1968, military government through 1991, and a vibrant democracy in the decades since. However, since 2011, the country has been increasingly beset by violent conflicts between nonstate actors, the national government, and foreign forces including the French. Thus, in historical perspective, Mali’s geographic position and its environment have proven conducive to the production of expansive, diverse, and mutually dependent communities that have produced radically distinct and often fragile states.


The History of the Makonde of Mozambique  

Paolo Israel

The Makonde people of northern Mozambique coalesced during the convulsions generated by the Indian Ocean slave trade. Originally an acephalous society composed of independent hamlets under the loose leadership of a lineage head, the Makonde engaged en masse in the armed struggle for the liberation of Mozambique, which was fought for ten years against Portuguese colonialism (1964–1974). The war and the socialist revolution that ensued thoroughly reshaped Makonde society. The Makonde relocated into communal villages; partook in collective production; scattered throughout the country; and embraced Mozambique’s single party, Frelimo, as a cornerstone of their identity. The liberation struggle also wrought important changes in gender relations, with the engagement of women in guerrilla and political activities. These transformations entailed the adoption of a hierarchical social structure, which superseded—and conflicted with—the horizontal organization of Makonde precolonial society. The Makonde are renowned for their vibrant artistic expression. Their mapiko masks are striking both as plastic objects and for the multifarious performances in which they take life. In the late colonial period, prompted by the patronage of missionaries and traders, a new sculptural tradition emerged, often referred to as “Makonde modern carving.” Executed on African blackwood, largely for an export market, these artworks are characterized by their intricate patterns. The two most recognizable genres are ujamaa, which represents the unity of socialist village life, and shetani, depicting creatures from the spirit world. The Makonde also possess rich song and musical traditions, which convey poignant narratives and criticisms of the dramatic transformations their society underwent. Since late 2017, the Makonde have been severely impacted by the Islamist insurgency that has exploded in the province of Cabo Delgado, resulting in massive displacement and remilitarization.


Ideological and Technological Exchanges in the Early Modern Atlantic  

Walter C. Rucker

Despite assumptions regarding the unidirectional flow of ideas and technologies from Europe to Atlantic Africa beginning in the 1440s, African-European interactions were far more complex and dynamic. The multilateral flow of concepts in the early Atlantic world had a precedent in the Mediterranean world. New and reintroduced concepts entering Iberia from North Africa and Arabia propelled sustained contacts between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Beginning with the Umayyad Caliphate’s conquest of Iberia until the defeat of the last Islamic stronghold in 1492, Iberian architecture, language, and science received waves of innovation from foreign sources. This constant cross-fertilization reintroduced Iberians and other Europeans—emerging from the early Middle Ages—to physics, astronomy, and geometry; navigational instruments like compasses, quadrants, and astrolabes; and seafaring technologies like lateen sails. This process of multilateral exchange and interaction set the stage for the complex engagements between Europeans and Atlantic Africans by the mid-15th century. Beginning with the Portuguese in the 1440s, Europeans engaged with Atlantic Africans and, together, developed commercial networks, political alliances, and social connections from Senegambia to Angola. Within these regions, a matrix of exchanges occurred that shaped the course of Atlantic history. Above and beyond the Columbian Exchange of agricultural products, Atlantic Africans introduced Europeans to an array of aquatic proficiencies; techniques associated with mineral extraction, mining and metallurgy, and crop cultivation; and herblore. Instead of understanding Atlantic Africa as a recipient of foreign ideas and innovations and in a state of dependency, communities in the region were partners within the many exchange networks through the 18th century. As they absorbed, internalized, and—in some cases—Africanized European ideas and technologies, Atlantic Africans also introduced Europeans to African innovations. As vectors of Atlantic African and Atlantic creole ideas, enslaved women and men fueled a broader range of exchanges in Western Hemisphere colonies.



Chima J. Korieh

The Igbo-speaking people inhabit most of southeastern Nigeria. Their political economy and culture have been shaped by their long history of habitation in the forest region. Important themes relating to the Igbo past have centered on the question of origin, the agrarian bases of their economy, the decentralized and acephalous structure of their political organization, an achievement-based social system rooted in their traditional humane living, and a fluid gender ideology that recognized male and female roles as complementary rather than oppositional. The Igbo contributed to major historical developments including the development of agriculture, the Bantu migration, and its influence in the making of Bantu cultural areas in sub-Saharan Africa. On the global arena, the Igbo contributed significantly to the transformation of the New World through the Atlantic slave trade and the making of New World cultures. The Igbo made the transition to palm oil production in the postabolition era, thereby contributing to the industrialization of Europe as well as linking their society to the global capitalist economy from the 19th century. The Igbo encounter with Europeans continued through British colonialism, and their struggle to maintain their autonomy would shape British colonialism in Nigeria and beyond. The postcolonial era has been a time of crisis for the Igbo in Nigeria. They were involved in a civil war with Nigeria, known as the Nigeria-Biafra war, and experienced mass killing and genocide but continued to be resilient, drawing from their history and shared experience.


Islam and Emancipation  

Sean Hanretta

Emancipation is a broad concept that includes liberation from slavery as well as broader projects of self-fulfillment. Muslims in Africa have drawn on Islamic sources both to justify and to critique enslavement, slaveholding, and slavery as an institution. Commercial law in particular recognized slave owners’ rights and early debates focused on categories of enslaveability. Slaves themselves drew on Islamic resources to improve their personal situation, to press for reforms, and to critique or try to overthrow the institution as a whole. Political transformations often created openings for more radical attempts to remake social hierarchies in the name of Islam, while Islamic revolutions both disrupted and facilitated the slave trade, depending on time and place. More broadly, critiques of other forms of ascriptive inequality, such as those based on race, caste, former slave status or slave descent, gender, and sexuality, have had equally complex relationships with the ways people have drawn on Islam. Many, but not all, analysts have emphasized the greater effectiveness of emancipatory projects that mobilize Islamic repertoires rather than relying on “Western” ideas of liberalism. The colonial era provided a new set of intellectual and political resources for those seeking to support or critique inequalities in Islamic terms. Halfhearted efforts to abolish slavery created some openings, but colonial commitment to maintaining social order limited its impact. The discursive legacy of colonialism has been more pronounced, particularly by creating an alignment between cultural nationalism and some conservative readings of Islamic sources, while neocolonial discourses can marginalize or even hamper the emancipatory efforts of Muslim activists.


Kafuxi Ambari of Kisama  

Crislayne Alfagali

Kafuxi Ambari was a key leader in the history of west central Africa, one who became a symbol of the political and military roles of African authorities under European occupation. Kafuxi Ambari refers to both a leadership position with spiritual connotations, used to describe individuals with a particular vocation, as well as the individuals who held that political title. The ruler (soba) had control over other authorities and dependents who honored him, paying tribute and fighting his battles. In return, he offered them spiritual and material protection. Kafuxi Ambari ruled the eastern part of Kisama, a region south of the Kwanza River, part of present-day Angola. He is remembered for the successive defeats he inflicted on Portuguese forces in the 16th and 17th centuries, especially his notable victory in the battle of 1594, which protected his lands and blocked the advance of Portuguese occupation and expansion of the slave trade in his territory. His efforts, along with those of other leaders, to host fugitives from slavery enshrined Kisama as a rebel territory, which remained autonomous and little known to colonial agents until the beginning of the 20th century. Over time, Kafuxi Ambari remained a respected and feared name and title, even as it weakened on account of colonial expansion. Kafuxi Ambari embodied resistance against colonialism and human trafficking that still reverberates in the local memories of Kisama residents. Although historians have paid attention to Kafuxi Ambari’s historical roles, there is still much to learn about the history of Kisama, its leaders, and its residents, all of which reveal the role of the slave trade and its link to power relations and political practices.


Liberated Africans  

Richard Anderson

“Liberated Africans” refers to a group of African-born men, women, and children intercepted by naval forces from slave ships and slave trading factories in the Atlantic and Indian oceans as part of the 19th-century campaign to abolish the transoceanic slave trade from Africa. Following the passage of Britain’s 1807 Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, the British Royal Navy patrolled both the Atlantic and Indian oceans in order to suppress the external trade from Africa. Captured vessels were taken to a series of Vice-Admiralty courts, and later Mixed Commission courts, located in Freetown, Sierra Leone; Havana, Cuba; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tortola; Cape Town, South Africa; James Town, St. Helena; Luanda, Angola; and Port Luis, Mauritius. Naval interdiction by Brazil, Portugal, the United States, and other powers resulted in a smaller number of cases brought before unilateral anti-slave-trade tribunals. Between 1808 and 1896, this complex tribunal network “liberated” approximately 214,000 Africans who survived the Middle Passage. Perhaps 75,000 of these individuals were settled in Sierra Leone; the remainder were settled in the British Caribbean, Brazil, Cuba, Liberia, and British colonies and outposts from the Gambia, Cape Colony, and Mauritius, to Mombasa, Zanzibar, and Bombay. The arrival of an estimated 192,000 Liberated Africans into Atlantic ports continued through the demise of the transatlantic slave trade in the 1860s. In the Indian Ocean, approximately 22,000 Liberated Africans disembarked in East Africa, the Persian Gulf, and India as a result of a highly uneven British naval campaign from 1808 into the 1890s. Many Liberated Africans experienced very liminal freedom. Adults and children were apprenticed to colonial inhabitants for periods of up to fourteen years. Men were conscripted into the British West India Regiments and Royal African Corps. Many women were forcibly married to strangers soon after arrival. Approximately one out of every four Liberated Africans underwent a second oceanic passage, most of them forcibly relocated to the British West Indies. The settlement of Liberated Africans—referred to by British officials as their “disposal”—represented a sizable involuntary African migration into and across the British Empire in the decades after the abolition of the British slave trade. Their arrival brought with it a lasting linguistic and cultural impact in many colonial societies. The descendants of Liberated Africans remain identifiable communities in many postcolonial societies from Africa to the Caribbean.


Maroon Societies in the Americas  

Richard Price

Communities formed by Maroons—self-liberated enslaved Africans and their descendants—dotted the fringes of plantation America, from Brazil to Florida, from Peru to Texas. Maroon communities, called palenques in the Spanish colonies and mocambos or quilombos in Brazil, ranged from tiny bands that survived less than a year to powerful states encompassing thousands of members that lasted for generations or, in some cases, centuries. Marronage represented a major form of slave resistance, whether accomplished by lone individuals, by small groups, or in great collective rebellions. Throughout the Americas, Maroon communities stood out as a heroic challenge to white authority, as the living proof of the existence of a slave consciousness that refused to be limited by the whites’ conception or manipulation of it. In the 2020s, Maroons still form semi-independent communities in several parts of the Americas, for example, in Suriname, French Guiana, Jamaica, Belize, Colombia, and Brazil. As the most isolated of Afro-Americans (the descendants of enslaved Africans brought to the Americas), they have since the 1920s been an important focus of scientific research, contributing to theoretical debates about resistance to slavery, the heritage of Africa in the Americas, the process of creolization, and the nature of historical knowledge among nonliterate peoples.