Final Passages, Part 2: New Perspectives on the Intra-American Slave Trading Routes

AHA Session 33
Conference on Latin American History 7
Thursday, January 4, 2018: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Roosevelt Room 2 (Marriott Wardman Park, Exhibition Level)
Linda M. Rupert, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Final Passages: The Intra-American Slave Trade Database
Alex Borucki, University of California, Irvine; Gregory E. O'Malley, University of California, Santa Cruz
Ana Lucia Araujo, Howard University

Session Abstract

This is the second of two sessions examining the various slave trades within the Americas. Rather than focusing on trans-imperial routes (e.g. from British Jamaica to Spanish Cuba) like the first session of this panel, this gathering is devoted to the better-known internal slave routes within nineteenth-century Brazil and the United States. In addition, this session introduces and brings updates about the ongoing digital project “Final Passages Intra-American Slave Trade Database,” supported by the NEH. This project aims to document and make publicly accessible evidence on slave trafficking voyages within the Americas.

Daniel Domingues presents his work on the Rio de Janeiro-based internal slave trade in Brazil, which will be included in the project Final Passages (as well as the work of Jennie Williams described below). He surveys a large database produced by Brazilian scholars on the transportation (both maritime and overland) of captives that departed from Rio de Janeiro during the first half of the nineteenth century. This was a time of rising transatlantic slave arrivals in Rio de Janeiro, the largest slaving port in the Americas throughout the entire history of the transatlantic traffic. From Rio, captive Africans continued into the interprovincial routes to regions as distant as Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, and Rio Grande do Sul.

Jennie Williams examines the maritime slave route from Baltimore to New Orleans –the main slave market in the nineteenth Century American South. Her paper presents a detailed portrait of this coastal slave trade, and the interregional routes in the United States. She also provides an overview of the coastal slave trade’s operations and its key actors, outlines structural and demographic distinctions differentiating the coastal slave trade from the routes conducted overland, and presents a demographic profile of the enslaved populations sold in this traffic.

Alex Borucki and Greg O’Malley, as a conclusion of these two sessions devoted to internal slave trade routes in the Americas, present the tentative results of the digital project Final Passages, as well as discuss the making and workings of a database on maritime slave routes, and the challenges of integrating overland routes such as part of the internal US and Brazilian slave trades.

Chaired by Linda Rupert, a historian who examines the trans-imperial networks of runaway slaves across the Dutch, British, French, and Spanish Caribbean and who commented the previous session of this panel, this second session will be commented by Ana Lucia Araujo. As a historian of Brazil, the African Diaspora, and the public history and memory of slavery, Araujo will put these papers in conversation and spark conversation on why and how digital tools help to increase the awareness and understanding of the slave trade. The organizers of this panel hope to contribute to the dialogue among historians of society, culture, economics, and demographics of the slave trade throughout these two sessions. In addition, the organizers hope that this discussion will help to build a user-friendly interface for the digital project Final Passages, which will be beneficial for scholars and the general public alike.

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