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Slavery in the Atlantic World

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Leslie Schwalm

on 23 August 2018

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Transcript of Slavery in the Atlantic World

The Atlantic Plantation Complex
Characteristics of New World plantation complex:
Combined factors of wealth production in new ways
(land, labor, capital)
Stage 1: 12th-14th centuries: The Mediterranean
Stage 2: 15th - 16th centuries: Africa’s Atlantic Islands
Stage 3: 17th-19th centuries-- The New World
Plantation Complex worked as an engine for
Atlantic mercantilism and capitalism

APC nurtured development of early mechanisms of capitalism: banks, joint stock companies (spread costs and profits among many investors), stock exchanges, insurance
Expanded Atlantic ports from Bristol and Liverpool to Nantes, Seville, and New York; Financed Barclays Bank and Lloyds of London; funded invention of steam engine
state policies
that promote
private investment
in overseas trade. Policies include restriction of colonial exchange to benefit the host nation, and accumulation of capital; state-sponsored instruments included chartered companies and use of military force to obtain commercial domniance
1) Most productive labor was forced labor; most laborers were slaves
2) Laboring population was not self-sustaining; required a steady supply of new slaves.
3) Agricultural enterprise was organized into large-scale capitalist plantations, with from 50 to several hundred workers.
4) Planters exercised economic control over the plantation, and legal jurisdiction over the land and the people who forced to work it.
5) Plantations served a distant market with a highly-specialized crop, at first sugar, as we have discussed, but later, included coffee, cotton, rice, etc.
6) Political control over the system lay in another continent, and in a totally different kind of society.
Transformed the trade in enslaved African people
Small group discussion/presentation:
1) Prepare to offer a basic overview of the book's region, topic, period of study
2) Note the author's methodological approaches/innovations
3) Outline the 4-5 key findings and contributions as the author seems to identify them
4) Note how the book speaks to our course, considering:
a. the book's discussion of slavery, economies, and gender in those economies (engage also with Curtin and the presentation on the APC)
b. how these books compare with, or extend, the view we get of slavery & gender in other times and places, e.g. Valencia in Blumenthal's book

1. Slavery was a world-wide and ancient practice

2. Across space and time, some similar characteristics were shared by people held in slavery

3. European expansion into the New World was deeply entangled with the “Atlantic Plantation Complex”


Slavery's Ancient History:
Earliest Documents: 2000 BCE
Earliest Laws: 1800 BCE
Roman Empire: 735 BCE-mid 15th


Iron Slave Collar, Roman, 4-6th c. CE

Slaves in England, 1310

Slaves in Turkey, 200 CE

1) enslaved people were property;

2) they were outsiders, either alien by origin or denied their heritage through judicial or other sanctions;

3) coercion could be used at will against them;

4) their labor power was at the complete disposal of a master;

5) they did not have the right to their own sexuality, and, by extension, to their own reproductive capacities; and

6) slave status was inherited unless provision was made to ameliorate that status.


The Atlantic World

The Atlantic World
of the 17th Century

Those involved in the trade focus on staple crops for European markets--sugar, coffee, and much later, cotton

Nations and merchants collaborate and bring together technology, access to labor, finance, and a politico-economic investment in overseas expansion

stage 1: 11th-13th centuries, in the eastern Mediterranean

stage 2: 14th-15th centuries, spread west, then south-- to the Azores, Madeiras, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, and Sao Tome

stage 3: 16th-17th centuries, the New World: Brazil, the Caribbean, North America



The trip around western African
required new ship technologies

The Atlantic World
of the 17th Century

The Atlantic World
of the 17th Century

Unloading slave-produced sugar at Bristol, ca. 1800
Our Writing Fellows!!
Each student will be partnered with a Writing Fellow this semester. For each of the two major papers, you will submit a polished draft to your Fellow, who will review it, confer with you about how to think about revisions that will improve the paper, and you will then have a few days to make final revisions before turning in your assignments to Prof. Schwalm.
Why do this?
Working with a Writing Fellow means you get to spend extra time thinking about your writing, learning about your writing, and learning how to sharpen and correct your own written work. This kind of peer feedback is invaluable to academic sucess--for students and for your professors!!!
Cindy Garcia; Ashley Chong; Carla Seravalli
Ashley is interested in transnationalism, music (creating, listening, analyzing, performing), languages, and human stories. You will most likely find her listening to music, scribbling down a new idea, or chatting with a friend.
Ashley Chong
Carla is a sophomore, English & Creative Writing major (with a minor in Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies) from Nebraska. Aside from fellowing, she is the Events Manager for the English Society, and she has helped publish Ink Lit Magazine. She likes reading and writing poetry and also roller skating and making dumb videos of her friends set to music.
Carla Seravalli
Cindy is a senior majoring in History and Journalism at the University of Iowa. Along with being an Honors Writing Fellow, she is a Writing Center tutor and International Writing Program intern. In her free time, she likes to keep up with politics and discover new places to eat.
Cindy Garcia
Both the midterm (25% of course grade) and final (25%) exams consist of take-home essay assignments.


A polished draft of your Midterm essay is due to your Writing Fellow on 9/26 by 9:30 AM (submit via ICON). FAILURE TO SUBMIT YOUR DRAFT TO THE FELLOW ON TIME WILL RESULT IN A 5-point deduction from your essay grade; failure to meet in conference with your fellow will result in another 5-point deduction from your grade.

The final version of your essay is due to Prof. Schwalm 10/10 @9:30 AM (submit via ICON).

The polished draft of your Final essay is due to your Writing Fellow by 11/28 @9:30; the final version is due to Prof. Schwalm 12/11 by noon of that day (submitted via ICON).

See the course website for further discussion of the exams. Both the essay prompts and the rubric I will use to grade them are posted on the course website.
The Atlantic Plantation Complex: A New Institution
The Key European Slaving Ports
These cities not only capitalized on the slave trade but on the business of slavery: refining slave-produced crops, financing and insuring the slave trade and slave economies
Processing Sugar
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