13. September 2021

New Podcast of Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture Series The Early Slave Trade from Angola to Brazil and the Spanish Caribbean

New Podcast of the Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture "The Early Slave Trade from Angola to Brazil and the Spanish Caribbean" by David Wheat is available on Youtube.

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Abstract: Despite Angola's immense importance in the transatlantic slave trade and an impressive body of scholarship addressing this topic during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, fairly little is known of the development of this traffic from Angola prior to the late 1590s. In addition to published works, this presentation draws on previously unknown Spanish archival sources and under-utilized Portuguese sources to analyze the traffic of enslaved West Central Africans from Angola to Brazil and Spanish America during the final decades of the sixteenth century. The slave trade from Angola to Brazil appears to have surged after the arrival of Portuguese Angola's first governor Paulo Dias de Novais and the founding of Luanda in 1575-1576 (if not sooner), overshadowing the substantial pre-existing trade from São Tomé to Brazil and Portugal no later than 1580. Meanwhile, two of the vessels that had transported Novais and his entourage to Luanda Island departed immediately afterward to disembark several hundred enslaved Africans on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola in late 1575 and early 1576, setting a precedent of sorts for the hundreds of Iberian slave ships that would sail from Angola to Spanish American ports over the following sixty-five years. Among other details pertaining to these earliest Angola-Caribbean voyages, a massive revolt among the captives – who temporarily seized control of one of the ships – provides qualitative evidence indicating that this was an early phase of the period of intensified slave trafficking from West Central Africa that is today known as "the Angola wave". Perhaps most significantly, the timing of these voyages provides an opportunity to periodize the transferral of maritime labor, logistical expertise, credit networks, and tens of thousands of enslaved Africans away from the already-burgeoning traffic between Angola and Brazil towards newer routes linking Angola to Spanish America.   

David Wheat (PhD Vanderbilt University 2009) is Associate Professor of History at Michigan State University. His book Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640 (2016) was awarded the Lapidus Center's Harriet Tubman Prize and the American Historical Association's James A. Rawley Prize. He recently co-edited two essay collections: The Spanish Caribbean and the Atlantic World in the Long Sixteenth Century with Ida Altman (2019), and From the Galleons to the Highlands: Slave Trade Routes in the Spanish Americas with Alex Borucki and David Eltis (2020). His recent publications examine the itineraries of a Caribbean woman of African descent who owned her own ship in the 1590s (Clio: Femmes, Genre, Histoire 2019), intermediaries who facilitated the slave trade from Sierra Leone in the mid-sixteenth century (Cliocanarias 2020), and the polyfunctional nature of early modern Iberian slave ships (Sometidos a Esclavitud, ed. Consuelo Naranjo Orovio, forthcoming 2021). 


New Podcast of Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture Series by David Wheat.
New Podcast of Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture Series by David Wheat. © David Wheat
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