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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Here is No Resisting the Country': The Realities of Power in Afro-European Relations on the West African 'Slave Coast'
Author:Law, Robin R.ISNI
Periodical:Itinerario: European Journal of Overseas History
Geographic terms:Togo
colonial history
Allada polity
Dahomey polity
Whydah polity
mercantile history
traditional polities
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:This paper assesses the degree of effective power which Europeans enjoyed in the 17th and 18th centuries on the Slave Coast, corresponding roughly to the modern Republics of Togo and Bénin (formerly Dahomey). The principal indigenous States in this area were, in the 17th century, Allada and Whydah, but both of these were in turn conquered by Dahomey in the 1720s. The paper argues that Africans may have been manipulating Europeans as much as vice versa. It first examines the European military presence on the Slave Coast, showing that although several European fortresses were established, their effective military power was limited. Next, it demonstrates that European traders did not deal with Africans as a united bloc, but were fragmented into rival enterprises, whose competition African suppliers could exploit to their own advantage. The realities of the balance of power between Europeans and Africans on the Slave Coast are most clearly seen in the treatment of the local representatives of the European trading companies by the Slave Coast authorities. The subordination of Europeans to African authority on the Slave Coast was also manifest in the insistence of the local authorities that the recurrent intra-European conflicts of the period should not be allowed to disrupt the operation of trade. Notes, ref.