The paper traces the transfer of Afro-descendants, resources, and economic ideologies from the Spanish Caribbean to West Africa between the 1860s, as Spain witnessed a surge in militarism and the rise of the ideology of Hispanismo, and the 1890s. It examines the role of a “motley crew” that included Sierra Leonean colonists, emancipados, Cuban political dissidents, Iberian convicts, and seamen in Fernando Po’s early transformation into a cocoa plantation economy. The paper argues for an approach to the Atlantic that explores how defunct trans-Atlantic slave trading networks became retooled toward African colonization after the 1860s. It suggests that a) the study of nineteenth-century “second slavery” should not be restricted to the Western Hemisphere; and b) that little known and relatively politically powerless characters with an Atlantic experience served as the initial intermediaries for Spanish colonialism in West Africa before the 1884 Berlin Conference.
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