Stephanie Smallwood

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Middle Passages Institute 2011
University of York
Monday | Aug 1 | 2011
Introduction and Overview:
Why Slavery, Why Africans?
Atlantic Slave Exports from Africa, c. 1450-1866
1450-1500
@50,000
1501-1600
277,506
1601-1700
1,875,631
1701-1800
6,494,619
1801-1866
3,873,580
TOTAL
12,571,336
Estimated Volume of African Slave Exports, c. 1601-1900
Trans-Saharan
Red Sea
Indian Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
1601-1800
1,404,000
303,000
505,000
8,371,000
10,583,000
1801-1900
1,200,000
492,000
1,618,000
3,874,000
7,184,000
2,604,000
795,000
2,123,000
12,245,000
17,767,000
From Atlantic Exploration to Transatlantic Slaving
Portuguese Motives?
Fall of Constantinople (1453)
Mansa Musa, shown in Catalan
Atlas (1375)
“Dar el Islam,” c. 1300
"The veins of gold ore having been exhausted, the Blacks had to work in sugar”
Hispaniola, late 16thC
This woodcut was produced by the De Bry
brothers, Flemish engravers who never visited
the Americas themselves. They based their
illustration on the following passage describing
sugar production on the island of Hispaniola:
"When the natives of this island (Espanola)
began to be extirpated, the Spaniards
provided themselves with blacks (Mori)
from Guinea . . . and they have brought
great numbers thence. When there were
mines, they made them work at the gold
and silver; but since those came to an end
they have increased the sugar-works, and
in these and in tending the flocks they are
chiefly occupied, besides serving their
masters in all else”
History of the New World by Girolamo Benzoni, of Milan. Shewing
his travels in America, from A.D. 1541 to 1556 . . . . Now first
translated, and edited by Rear-Admiral W.H. Smyth [London: Printed
for the Hakluyt Society, 1857; original published in Venice, 1565]. p.
93
Source: Sugar Making, Hispaniola, late 16th cent.; Image Reference LCP-25, as shown on
www.slaveryimages.org, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the
University of Virginia Library.
“Sugar surrendered its place
as luxury and rarity and
became the first massproduced exotic necessity of a
proletarian working class”
Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and Power, 46
The Critical Role of Sugar
“Sugar--or rather, the great commodity market which arose demanding it--has been one of the
massive demographic forces in world history. Because of it, literally millions of enslaved Africans
reached the New World, particularly the American South, the Caribbean and its littorals, the
Guianas and Brazil. This migration was followed by those of East Indians, both Moslem and
Hindu, Javanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and many other peoples in the nineteenth century. It was
sugar that sent East Indians to Natal and the Orange Free State, sugar that carried them to
Mauritius and Fiji. Sugar brought a dozen different ethnic groups in staggering succession to
Hawaii, and sugar still moves people about the Caribbean.”
Sidney W. Mintz, “The Plantation as a Sociocultural Type,” in Plantation Systems of the New World (Washington,
D.C.: Pan American Union, 1959), p. 49. Also in Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern
History (New York, NY: Viking, 1985), p. 71