Beyond the Atlantic Crossing: Reckoning with Captives' Multi-Staged Journeys through the Slave Trade

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 8:40 PM
Palladian Ballroom (Omni Shoreham)
Gregory E. O'Malley, University of California, Santa Cruz
Scholarship on the Atlantic slave trade—whether quantifying the forced migration, assessing the profits of traders, or examining the experiences of captives treated as commodities—tends to focus on the Atlantic crossing. But grasping the slave trade's full complexity, importance, and horror requires attention to all its phases. For captives, the Middle Passage across the Atlantic was but one stage of a multi-phased journey. Most had traveled long distances within Africa, bought and sold by numerous African traders, before reaching the Atlantic Coast and being sold to European slavers. And upon arrival in the Americas, many were purchased by speculators for intercolonial trade over long distances and across imperial borders. For quantitative studies, reckoning with the multiple phases of the slave trade redraws the map of who settled where. For assessing profits, it reveals additional rounds of profitable buying and selling and enmeshes slave trading with other commerce. And for captive experiences, it extends journeys, adding to the unimaginable suffering and horrific mortality of the slave trade, while also complicating assessments of cultural dissemination in the African diaspora.