Phillips Thesis Slavery

Reviewed by Sharla Fett (Department of History, Occidental College) Published on H-Atlantic (October, 2007) In 1919, Carter G. "In just the same way as a writer of the history of New England in describing the fisheries of that section would have little to say about the species figuring conspicuously in that industry," charged Woodson, "so has the author treated the negro in his work."[1] The historiography on slavery and the slave trade in 2007 is worlds away from Phillips's early twentieth-century study.

Phillips's and found it severely lacking in its recognition of African American historical subjectivity.

At the heart of this book lies the argument that for most African captives, the Atlantic World was not a coherent geographic entity, but a space of saltwater terror.

The Atlantic passage, then, was not a "Middle Passage" but an "experience of motion without discernible direction or destination" (p. is first and foremost a profound meditation on the historical process of commodification in early modern Atlantic markets.

3) is no easy feat given the nature of Smallwood's evidence.

At times, Smallwood provides original interpretations of familiar evidence, such as ex-slave Charles Ball's account of an African-born father who placed a canoe and paddle on the grave of his son to allow the son passage back across the sea to Africa. id=13735 Copyright © 2007 by H-Net, all rights reserved.

Focused on the British slave trade from the Gold Coast between 16, offers a broadly relevant exploration of the processes of commodification and forced migration.

Drawing on both the business records and the voluminous correspondence of the Royal African Company (RAC), the book's seven chapters follow the trajectory from West African captivity across the Atlantic to the expanding plantation complex of the Americas.

Though some of the questions Smallwood raises may not ever be answered, the eloquent and sophisticated framing of her inquiry sets the terms of discussion for future studies of transatlantic slavery.

Fewer twentieth-century historiographical debates have been more engaging than the debate over comparative slavery in the colonial or Atlantic World.


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