During the era of the Atlantic slave trade, vibrant port cities became home to thousands of Africans in transit. Free and enslaved blacks alike crafted the necessary materials to support transoceanic commerce and labored as stevedores, carters, sex workers, and boarding-house keepers. Even though Africans continued to be exchanged as chattel, urban frontiers allowed a number of enslaved blacks to negotiate the right to hire out their own time, often greatly enhancing their autonomy within the Atlantic commercial system.
In The Black Urban Atlantic in the Age of the Slave Trade, eleven original essays by leading scholars from the United States, Europe, and Latin America chronicle the black experience in Atlantic ports, providing a rich and diverse portrait of the ways in which Africans experienced urban life during the era of plantation slavery. Describing life in Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Africa, this volume illuminates the historical identity, agency, and autonomy of the African experience as well as the crucial role Atlantic cities played in the formation of diasporic cultures. By shifting focus away from plantations, this volume poses new questions about the nature of slavery in the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, illustrating early modern urban spaces as multiethnic sites of social connectivity, cultural incubation, and political negotiation.
Contributors: Trevor Burnard, Mariza de Carvalho Soares, Matt D. Childs, Kevin Dawson, Roquinaldo Ferreira, David Geggus, Jane Landers, Robin Law, David Northrup, João José Reis, James H. Sweet, Nicole von Germeten.
Introduction —Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Matt D. Childs, and James Sidbury
I. AFRICAN IDENTITIES IN ATLANTIC SPACES Chapter 1. Identity among Liberated Africans in Sierra Leone —David Northrup Chapter 2. Ouidah as a Multiethnic Community —Robin Law Chapter 3. African Nations in Nineteenth-Century Salvador, Bahia —João José Reis
II. THE SOURCES OF BLACK AGENCY Chapter 4. Re-creating African Ethnic Identities in Cuba —Matt D. Childs Chapter 5. The Slaves and Free People of Color of Cap Français —David Geggus Chapter 6. Kingston, Jamaica: Crucible of Modernity —Trevor Burnard
III. URBAN SPACES AND BLACK AUTONOMY Chapter 7. The African Landscape of Seventeenth-Century Cartagena and Its Hinterlands —Jane Landers Chapter 8. The Cultural Geography of Enslaved Ship Pilots —Kevin Dawson Chapter 9. Slavery and the Social and Cultural Landscapes of Luanda —Roquinaldo Ferreira Chapter 10. African Barbeiros in Brazilian Slave Ports —Mariza de Carvalho Soares
IV. BLACK IDENTITIES IN NONPLANTATION ECONOMIES Chapter 11. The Hidden Histories of African Lisbon —James H. Sweet Chapter 12. Black Brotherhoods in Mexico City —Nicole von Germeten
List of Contributors Notes Bibliographic Essay Index Acknowledgments
Jorge Canizares-Esguerra is Alice Drysdale Sheffield Professor of History at the University of Texas, Austin, and author of several books, including How to Write the History of the New World: Histories, Epistemologies, and Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World. Matt D. Childs is Associate Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and author of The 1812 Aponte Rebellion in Cuba and the Struggle Against Atlantic Slavery. James Sidbury is Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Rice University and author of Becoming African in America: Race and Nation in the Early Black Atlantic.
"A timely and important collection of essays on a subject of vital interest to historians of the early modern Atlantic world. By decisively moving away from an earlier generation of scholars who seemed to see slavery and urban life as incompatible, this substantial and original volume makes a major contribution to the ways in which we study Atlantic history and the African diaspora."—Vincent Brown, Harvard University