P216 – The 19th Century African Slave Trade: Indian and Atlantic Ocean Links
10 July, 09:00 – 10:30

Barcia Manuel / University of Leeds


Lawrance Benjamin
Rochester Institute of Technology

Although the transatlantic slave trade peaked in the late eighteenth century, the number of Africans sold overseas continued to increase in the following century. The African slave trade in the Indian Ocean experienced an unprecedented boom in the nineteenth century. Studies on the African slave trade usually focus either on the Atlantic or the Indian Ocean. As a consequence, they often fail to provide a global perspective of the African Diaspora and miss important connections between the two trades. This panel provides a broader view on the African slave trade by exploring relevant links between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean slave trades. It will examine how Asian textiles fed the transatlantic slave trade from Angola, how Africans disembarked in St. Helena extended the frontiers of European medical knowledge, and how European merchants have turned to Madagascar and Mozambique to provide slaves to the New World. The findings are thus promising and invite the public for academic collaboration and discussion.

O Tráfico de Escravos Africanos no Século XIX: Ligações entre os Oceanos Índico e Atlântico
Apesar do tráfico transatlântico de escravos ter atingido o seu pico em fins do século XVIII, no século seguinte o número de africanos vendidos além-mar continuou a crescer. No Oceano Índico, o comércio de escravos africanos experimentou um boom sem precedentes no século XIX. Estudos sobre o tráfico de africanos geralmente se concentram ou no Atlântico, ou no Índico. Por causa disso, eles frequentemente deixam de fornecer uma perspectiva global da diáspora africana e não fazem conexões importantes entre os dois oceanos. O presente painel fornece uma visão mais ampla sobre o tráfico de africanos, explorando ligações relevantes entre o comércio de escravos nos oceanos Índico e Atlântico. Ele examinará como têxteis asiáticos alimentou o tráfico transatlântico de escravos, como os africanos desembarcados em Santa Helena expandiu o conhecimento médico europeu, e como comerciantes Europeia virou-se para Madagáscar e Moçambique para fornecer escravos para o Novo Mundo. Os achados são promissores e convidam a audiência para discussão e colaboração acadêmica.

Paper 1

Boyer-Rossol Klara / Université Paris Diderot Paris 7

Across the Mozambique Channel, illegal slave trade routes and trajectories

During the first half of the XIXe century, the gradual abolition of the slave trade in the Atlantic space has led slave traders to turn to the Mozambique Channel. Entrance to the Indian Ocean, the Mozambique Channel has captured movements of ships under Portuguese, Spanish or American flag, in search of captives. These were clandestinely shipped on the eastern coast of Africa (mostly Mozambique), but also on the West coast of Madagascar and in Comoros, which constituted relay-stages in the sub-regional slave trade.
Officers of the Navy who patrolled in the Mozambique Channel, have left reports denouncing the persistence of the slave trade shipments to Brazil, Cuba or North America until the 1860s. It seems very difficult to accurately quantify the volume of the slave trade, precisely because of its illegality. However, these British sources provide valuable information on the circuits of trafficking and the changes in appearance of the slave trade, to better maintain.
This paper examines how slave traders operated in the Mozambique Channel. This shows that ancient practices linked to the slave trade (trade goods) have coexisted with new practices (legal maneuvers), which emerged in an abolitionist context. The prohibition of the slave trade has led to a diversification of the forced crossings of Africans men and women. Illegal slave routes extended through “liberated” trajectories, which also linked the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic space. Thus, among the “liberated” in Sierra Leone, were some ex-slaves from the Mozambique.

Paper 2

Barcia Manuel / University of Leeds

The South Atlantic and the Mozambique Channel anti-Slave Trade Squadrons, their Prizes, and the Passage to Saint Helena

The particularities and complications associated with the checking, chasing, capture and safeguarding –or destruction- of the vessels implicated in the illicit business of buying slaves in Africa to sell them in the Americas were countless. In this paper I intend to reflect upon the work of the Royal Navy vessels and to examine the factors that influenced their effectiveness in identifying and capturing slavers in the South Atlantic and the Mozambique Channel. Without the mastering of the ‘art’ of chasing the slavers, which involved a good knowledge of the coast between Cape Lopez and Benguela, and alongside the Madagascar and Mozambique coasts, and an even better understanding of the trickery revealed by the slavers, the practical abolition of the slave trade in the area would have never been achieved. Only by staying a step ahead of the slavers were the ships of the South Atlantic and Mozambique stations able to bring about this ending. Equally significant to the achievement of this goal were the measures taken both in London and in the South Atlantic, especially Saint Helena, to show those involved in the trade that the full force of the law would fall upon their heads. Only by breaking out their business it was possible to abolish the slave trade in the South Atlantic.

Paper 3

Domingues Daniel / University of Missouri

Asian Textiles in the Atlantic Slave Trade from Angola, 1784-1864

Asian textiles played a key role in the Atlantic slave trade from Angola. Imported via Europe and Brazil, these textiles made up a large share of the commodities used to purchase slaves. Historians have long called attention to this fact, but determining the size, origins, and how this trade changed over time has been considerably challenging. This paper examines customs records from Luanda and Benguela, the two main ports of slave embarkation in Angola, between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to assess the influence of the Asian textile industry in Angola. It shows that the slave trade did not merely connect both sides of the Atlantic. It was a truly global commercial activity, which brought the Atlantic into contact with places as far as India and Southeast Asia.

Paper 4

Thiebaud Rafael / Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Pre-19th century slave trade between Madagascar and the New World.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Madagascar was known for being an important slave reservoir for the factories of different East India Companies spread out over the entire Indian Ocean region. The role of this island as slave supplier for the colonies in the New World is much less studied. Nonetheless many European merchants established or tried to establish contacts with Madagascar in order to obtain slaves for the Americas. This paper will explore the factors that pushed them to develop these mostly opportunist and improvised shipping connections between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean Region and the consequences they had for the already existing trading contacts.

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