Gratuitous chart #3: integration in the market for enslaved labour

Recently Martin Klein wrote an interesting article suggesting that the functioning of urban slave labour markets in Africa require more theorising, and (fortunately, since a chapter of my dissertation is on precisely this subject) I agree. One question worth exploring is a subset of the more broader question of market integration: were domestic African markets for enslaved labour integrated with the broader trans-Atlantic slave trade? Paul Lovejoy and David Richardson argued about twenty-five years ago that they were integrated, rejecting Emmanuel Terray’s thesis that they were two essentially distinct and unconnected markets. But Lovejoy and Richardson’s conclusion was based on a very sparse dataset, based entirely on observations from European travellers. One of the findings of my own work is that at least in European coastal enclaves, like Saint Louis and GorĂ©e in Senegal, real slave prices in the domestic slave market moved in tandem with coastal prices in the transatlantic slave trade. As Bronwen Everill has argued, these Afro-European towns were very much part of a broader Atlantic economy, and price history can help us demonstrate this:

Published by Tom Westland

PhD student in economic history at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge

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