This panel examines the involvement of West African communities of Senegambia, Gold Coast and the Bight of Benin in the Atlantic slave trade. The four papers look at the different ways West African men and women, including rulers and slave merchants, as well as laptots, boat pilots, interpreters, rapaces, cabin boys, pileuses, carpenters, gourmets, porters, and soldiers, participated in the Atlantic slave trade. By examining a myriad of sources including oral interviews and archival written sources the various papers explore the interactions between West Africans and Europeans, by showing how West African local agents built multiple and fluid identities, and in most cases became intermediaries between Africans and Europeans. The various papers show how the cultural, political, and economic roles played by these individuals were critical for the development of the Atlantic slave trade. Although focusing on different regions, the papers argue that the activities of West African historical actors contributed in different ways for the development of transatlantic networks and communities.
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