Some Troubling Chapters in The Political Ecology & History of West African Agriculture


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Segments of Walter Rodney Lecture (with supporting links)


Part 1   Part 2   Part 3  Part 4 

Part 5    Part 6   Part 7

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QR-Rodney-Lecture-ntThe 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:

See related background material:


As well as:

See related:


Lecture follow-up, further related References and Links


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