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The Slave Ship: A Human History

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Hannah Frisbie

on 14 December 2015

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Transcript of The Slave Ship: A Human History

A Brief Summary
Takes place in the Atlantic trading triangle (Europe, Africa, and the Americas) during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
The book is divided into individual sections in each chapter, each providing evidence to serve the Rediker's overarching thesis:
The terrible acts committed against captive Africans during the transport and delivery of slaves are inexcusable and unjustified.
Uses first-hand accounts of slaves aboard slavers to depict their treatment
Speaks of the duties of the crew, and the dimensions of the boat; how little space each slave was allotted
Explains why and how certain Africans were sold into slavery
Triangular Trade
"'triangular trade,' in which the ships proceeded from a European (or American) port with cargo of manufactured goods to West Africa, where they traded for slaves, to America, where they traded for plantation produce such as sugar, tobacco, or rice, became the dominant way of viewing slave trade" (Rediker, 46).
Middle Passage
"The part of the Atlantic circuit involving the transportation of enslave Africans across the Atlantic to the Americas" (Bulliet, et al, 483).
Modernizing Technology
"The slave ship . . . was one of the most important technologies ofo the day" (Rediker, 66)
A large topic in this class has been changing and evolving technology
Compass, astrolabe, etc.
The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were an era of advancing maritime technology
Ships were built smarter, stronger, and fasters
Special innovations were created specifically for slavers
Copper hulling, netting
Rediker uses the horrible realities of the slave ships to prove his many theses, primarily slavery was inexcuable and unjustifiable
He relates this to larger lasting consequences such as race and social class
The events in the novel also relate to many aspects of global history that we have learned about in this class, including the Columbian Exchange, advancing technology, and trade routes
Overall the book is chilling and vivid, but a worthy read for anyone interested in studying the history of slavery
Author: Marcus Rediker
The Slave Ship:
A Human History

By Hannah Frisbie
The Slave Ship
Secondary Theses
The Columbian Exchange
"Refers to the transfer of
, animals, plants, and diseases between the New and Old Worlds" (Bulliet, et al, 446).
Slave trade itself is a function of the Columbian Exchange
"[T]rade was rather more varied . . . involving slave but also kola nuts, beeswax, camwood, gold, malaguetta peppers, and high-quality ivory" (Rediker, 82).
Sierra Leone
Ships travel from Africa with slaves and commerce to the New World
How This Relates to
Global History
Bollendorf, Bill.
Marcus Rediker
. In
The Slave Ship: A Human History.
New York: Viking Press, 2007.
The Slave Ship: A Human History
is a series of chilling accounts of captains, workers, and slaves who had to endure time on slaving vessels.
Through the use of haunting tales and gruesome evidence of living conditions, Marcus Rediker describes "the most magnificent drama in the last thousand years" (Rediker 4).
Author's work and credibility on the subject
A brief overview of the narrative and its main arguments
How this book and its topics relate to global history
Burstein Collection.
Cover Art.
The Slave Ship: A Human History.
New York: Viking Press, 2007.
The Slave Ship: A Human History.
New York: Viking Press, 2007.
Professor of Atlantic History at the University of Pittsburgh
Active in peace movements and social justice work
Written or worked in part on nine books
Many Middle Passages
Who Built America?
Many titles that relate to slavery, maritime powers, or oppressed people
Produced a documentary about a slave trading factory in Sierra Leone
Lectures around the United States and abroad
Prior to writing this novel, Rediker had extensively researched both nautical technology and slave trade

Offers a wide variety of sources, including many journals of captains and slaving boat crewmen, as well as autobiographies of slaves

His position as an Atlantic History professor offers a unique perspective on the topic, as it qualifies him as a global historian
He does not seem to have a view that is skewed by eurocentric ideas
Representation of an Insurrection.
The Slave Ship: A Human History.
New York: Viking Press, 2007.
Works Cited
Bulliet, Richard W., Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick,
Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, and David Northrup. The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History. 6th Edition. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2014
Rediker, Marcus. "Marcus Rediker: Biography."
Studios, 2
014, http://www.marcusrediker.com/about/about.php.
Rediker, Marcus.
The Slave Ship: A Human History.
New York:
Viking Press, 2007.
The Slave Ship: A Human History.
New York: Viking Press, 2007.
Description of a Slave Ship.
The Slave Ship: A Human History
. New York: Viking Press, 2007.
Critiques of the Novel
For a majority of the novel, the author only focused on the negative aspects of the ships
Did speak about technological advancements
Failed to demonstrate the positive uses of many developments
example: cannons and firearms on board -> shown as weapons of terror rather than protection
Only talked about the passage in a negative light; in a way, he neglected the eurocentric view
Explained the role of each person on board and their gruesome duties; did not really mention their benefits as traders, other than the owner of the ship making profit
"Black Bart" Roberts.
The Slave Ship: A Human History.
New York: Viking Press, 2007.
Enslaved Studied the Slave Ship.
The Slave Ship: A Human History.
New York: Viking Press, 2007.
Less than Admirable Advances
Along with the moving of slaves came the white men's idea that they needed to be properly contained
"Constraints allowed African merchants to control and move coffles toward the ships" (Rediker, 210).
Special shackles and chains were developed to keep prisoners in place
These were made available to ships after the Industrial Revolution made iron products abundant
Slave Ship.
The Slave Ship: A Human History.
New York: Viking Press, 2007.
Triangular Trade Across the Atlantic.
December 3, 2015. http://b29115924cf54e629aa5-4ff86151a1684680afb5e7ba0d0f4374.r32.cf2.rackcdn.com/A3EB0E1F-D810-4147-B0DE-653F531E3164.jpg
"The slave ship and its social relations have shaped the modern world, but their history remains in many was unknown" (Rediker, 10).
This is why the author chooses to in depth at the structures of the ship
Slavery cannot be forgotten, as we still live with its consequences today
"race, class, and slavery . . . [are] a ghost ship sailing on the edges of modern consciousness" (Rediker, 13).
Slaves are largely victims of war and are sold against their will. They are stolen from their homes.
"Most people who found themselves on slave ships did so in the aftermath of war" (Rediker, 98).
The slave ships were places of terror and cruelty, and the crew contributed to this.
"enslaved people were incarcerated for sixteen hours a day and sometimes longer" (Rediker, 68).
Burstein Collection.
Cover Art
. In
The Slave Ship: A Human History
. New York: Viking Press, 2007.
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