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Segments of Walter Rodney Lecture (with supporting links)
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The slave trade era in West African history was only made possible through a massive exportation of agricultural production — both actual and “embedded” — in the form of foodstuffs that made it possible to capture or acquire slaves in the first place, and then hold them in captivity and feed them as coerced labor for the construction of forts, ports and the infrastructure for the trade. Finally, of course, large-scale food production was required to supply the food for the tens of millions of slaves to survive the Atlantic passage were required on a significant scale. These “prior plantations” in Africa, in effect, proved to be crucial for the emergence of the plantations economies in Brazil, the Caribbean and the Americas.
The history of these prior plantations has yet to be properly understood or studied in detail. This provides numerous challenges for Africanist scholars, including archaeologists, ethno-botanists, ecologists and agricultural historians.
Mapping the Slave Trade: 1556-1823 – A Digital Humanities Project
Detailed histories of the introduction and adaptation of “new world” crops could be undertaken in reference to specific locations of the prior plantations involved in the trans-Atlantic trade.
Old Maps & New Narratives: Digitizing Historical Maps to Analyze New Dimensions of the Atlantic Trade
The Prior Plantations, Legitimate Trade, Cash-Crop Exports & Farmland Grabs: Some Troubling Chapters in The Political Ecology &
History of West African Agriculture
Some related past Boston University discussions:
- Maps, Stones & Plants: Agents of Empire and the Ecology of the Atlantic Trade
- Globalization & The Political Ecology of Extractive Agriculture: The Recent History and Tragic Trajectory of African Agriculture
- BBC World Service – The Climate Question, Can we feed the world without using chemical fertilisers?
- Mapping Foodways in African and American History
- The Historical Origins, Evolution and Future Dimensions of Africa’s Recurrent Food Crises
- Biofuels, Land Grabs, and the Right to Food: The Legacy of Colonialism and the Evolution of the Global Food System
See related background material:
- The “Green Revolution:” Its Essence, Achievements & Aftermath
- A new scramble for Africa
- A “Scramble for Africa” Is Underway (…once again)
- China and the “New Scramble” for Africa: (What is “new” about this?)
- Debt Imperialism in America & Africa: Some Historical Notes on the Rise & Fall of the American Empire on “Independence Day”- 4 July 2021
- The Atlantic Trade and Africa: The Portuguese, the Spanish & the Dutch
- William Dodge on Nestle Slave Labor
As well as:
Lecture follow-up, further related References and Links