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Level 7

7AAH2016 New Perspectives on Atlantic Slavery: Origins and Consequences in Africa, the Americas and Europe

Credit value: 20
Module convenor/tutor: Dr Toby Green
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour weekly seminars
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 4,000-word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This module offers advanced ways in to the new perspectives that have been developed in the past 10 years or so relating to the origins and consequences of the Atlantic slave trade. Focussing on questions of agency, cultural transformations, and the economic and social consequences of the slave trade, it is an ideal advanced entry point for students interested in the origins and consequences of the institution of slavery in the modern world, in the interrelationship between slavery and empire, and in the cultural and political contexts for interactions of Africans and Europeans in the Atlantic World. The course also provides a theoretical and empirical grounding for further advanced study in the histories of Africa and the Americas in the early modern period, as well as providing an important context for the economic growth of early modern Europe.

Slavery is examined in the totality of relevant contexts: pre-Atlantic European, African and pre-Columbian American forms of slavery are considered together to give a global context to the system of slavery which emerged in the sixteenth century. From this beginning we consider the intersection of these contexts in the 16th century, and move through to the development of the system of slave production by the middle of the 17th century in Brazil and the English Caribbean. This economic and political context is then consolidated in the second half of the course as we consider the cultural consequences of this conjuncture in both the Americas and Europe, and how these developments contributed to the Age of Revolution. By the end of the module, students will have moved towards an understanding not only of the importance of the slave mode of production in both the British and Iberian imperial orbits, but also will see how this process connects to the emergence of global communities and histories and of mixed identities and languages in the Atlantic world.

Provisional teaching plan

Week 1: The Place of Forced Labour in Human Societies (1): Contexts of Slavery, and  Slavery in Europe Before the Birth of the Atlantic World

Week 2: The Place of Forced Labour in Human Societies (2): Slavery and Labour in Pre-Atlantic West Africa and pre-Columbian America

Week 3: Contextualizing African-European Relations

Week 4: The Birth of the Atlantic Slave Trade in West Africa (15th-16th Centuries)

Week 5: The Expansion of the Atlantic Slave Trade in Angola and Kongo (16th-17th Centuries)

Week 6: Plantation Economies in the Atlantic: Atlantic Islands, Brazil and the Caribbean

Week 7: Cultural Exchanges in the Context of Slave Production: Music and Religion

Week 8: Material Exchanges in the Context of Slave Production: Food and Money

Week 9: Atlantic Slavery and Atlantic Identities: Art, Race and Medicine

Week 10: The Revolutionary Futures of Slave Production: The Atlantic World to 1800


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