From Slave Trade to 'Legitimate' Commerce: The Commercial Transition in Nineteenth-Century West Africa

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During the nineteenth century, the trans-Atlantic slave trade was made illegal and eventually suppressed, and superseded by alternative forms of 'legitimate' trade with western Africa, especially in vegetable products such as palm oil. This commercial transition marks the beginning of the modern economic history of the region. This book considers the implications of that process for the African societies involved, through ten case-studies written by leading specialists in the field. These studies address the central issue of continuity and change in economic structures, and critically assess the argument that the transition posed a 'crisis of adaptation' for African rulers by undermining their control over the income from overseas trade. Also highlighted are the effects of transition on slavery and gender relations within Africa and its links to the growth of European imperialism, culminating in the Partition of Africa at the end of the nineteenth century.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The volume nicely marks the maturation in African historiography since Hopkins first raised the question inspiring it." Historian
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521481274
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2007
  • Series: African Studies Series, #86
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

List of contributors
List of abbreviations
Introduction 1
1 The initial 'crisis of adaptation': the impact of British abolition on the Atlantic slave trade in West Africa, 1808-1820 32
2 The West African palm oil trade in the nineteenth century and the 'crisis of adaptation' 57
3 The compatibility of the slave and palm oil trades in Dahomey, 1818-1858 78
4 Between abolition and Jihad, the Asante response to the ending of the Atlantic slave trade, 1807-1896 93
5 Plantations and labour in the south east Gold Coast from the late eighteenth to the mid nineteenth century 119
6 Owners, slaves and the struggle for labour in the commercial transition at Lagos 144
7 Slaves, Igbo women and palm oil in the nineteenth century 172
8 'Legitimate' trade and gender relations in Yorubaland and Dahomey 195
9 In search of a desert-edge perspective: the Sahara-Sahel and the Atlantic trade, c. 1815-1900 215
10 The 'New International Economic Order' in the nineteenth century: Britain's first Development Plan for Africa 240
Appendix: the 'crisis of adaptation': a bibliography 265
Index 272
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