Working the Diaspora: The Impact of African Labor on the Anglo-American World, 1650-1850

Working the Diaspora: The Impact of African Labor on the Anglo-American World, 1650-1850

by Frederick C. Knight, Jeanne Theoharis
     
 

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From the sixteenth to early-nineteenth century, four times more Africans than Europeans crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. While this forced migration stripped slaves of their liberty, it failed to destroy many of their cultural practices, which came with Africans to the New World. In Working the Diaspora, Frederick Knight examines work cultures on

Overview

From the sixteenth to early-nineteenth century, four times more Africans than Europeans crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. While this forced migration stripped slaves of their liberty, it failed to destroy many of their cultural practices, which came with Africans to the New World. In Working the Diaspora, Frederick Knight examines work cultures on both sides of the Atlantic, from West and West Central Africa to British North America and the Caribbean.

Knight demonstrates that the knowledge that Africans carried across the Atlantic shaped Anglo-American agricultural development and made particularly important contributions to cotton, indigo, tobacco, and staple food cultivation. The book also compellingly argues that the work experience of slaves shaped their views of the natural world. Broad in scope, clearly written, and at the center of current scholarly debates, Working the Diaspora challenges readers to alter their conceptual frameworks about Africans by looking at them as workers who, through the course of the Atlantic slave trade and plantation labor, shaped the development of the Americas in significant ways.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The book’s major scholarly contributions include a diaspora approach linking both sides of the Atlantic, an emphasis on the mental and human dimensions of slave workers, and evidence for multiple contributions of slave workers in making the American plantation.”-CHOICE

"This volume is a significant contribution to a number of different fields, and it is on the cutting edge of Atlantic history, exploring an almost seamless integration of African, African American, and indeed American life."-Simon P. Newman,American Historical Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814748183
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
01/01/2010
Series:
Culture, Labor, History Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
252
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

The book's major scholarly contributions include a diaspora approach linking both sides of the Atlantic, an emphasis on the mental and human dimensions of slave workers, and evidence for multiple contributions of slave workers in making the American plantation."-CHOICE,

"This volume is a significant contribution to a number of different fields, and it is on the cutting edge of Atlantic history, exploring an almost seamless integration of African, African American, and indeed American life."-Simon P. Newman,American Historical Review

"Goes a long way toward giving enslaved African labor deserved recognition for having shaped the Atlantic world." -Journal of World History,

"Working the Diaspora is one of few books about American slavery to take Africa seriously...Knight deserves high praise for telling the story."-Walter Hawthorne,New West Indian Guide

“Historians of African Americans have known for a long time that they were brought to the Americas to labor, but until Frederick Knight’s comprehensive and fascinating account, that labor had never been fully examined. By looking at African labor and especially agricultural skills, Knight shows that a great deal of the work that African Americans did as slaves had its roots in African agricultural processes. Knight’s chapter on the production of indigo is particularly telling on this point, and shows that Africans’ skill was perhaps as important as their muscle in furthering the New World’s agricultural development. While others have explored elements of the role of Africans as skilled farmers before, Knight has brought all this and more together in a compelling and convincing re-evaluation of Africans and their descendants’ role in American life.”
-John K. Thornton,author of Africa and Africans in the Formation of the Atlantic World, 1400-1680

Meet the Author

Frederick C. Knight is Chair of the Department of History at Morehouse College.

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