Origins and Destinations: Linking West Africa’s Historical Geography to the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database

Thursday, January 7, 2016: 1:00 PM
Regency Ballroom VI (Hyatt Regency Atlanta)
Henry B. Lovejoy, University of Texas at Austin
Knowing when and where people came from within Africa, and when and where they went in diaspora, is a major research question affecting the history of the continent and the Atlantic world. My proposed solution is to initiate the process of creating the framework to standardize Africa’s geo-political history. Creating a broadly accepted core of knowledge about the geographic, political and migratory history of Africa along a cartographic timeline will provide new insight, methods and solutions to research transformations to the continent, but also the origins of people absorbed into the trans-Atlantic slave trade. On a slide show of eleven maps representative of each of the years between 1826 and 1836, this data visualization project will illustrate the potential of plotting the successive dissolution and formation of inland towns as they relate to the departure of documented slave voyages. The focus here is on the geo-political transformations of the Bight of Benin hinterland during the collapse of the Oyo Empire as it relates to the departure of 90 slave ships leaving ports along the former “Slave Coast.” These 29,000 individuals boarded ships between Little Popo and Lagos and landed in Brazil, Cuba and Sierra Leon. Of this total in this crucial period, Courts of Mixed Commission in Rio de Janeiro, Havana and Freetown condemned 60 slave ships, as well as registering upwards of 17,600 individuals.
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