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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Islam, slavery, and political transformation in West Africa: constraints on the trans-Atlantic slave trade
Author:Lovejoy, Paul E.ISNI
Periodical:Outre-mers: revue d'histoire
Geographic term:West Africa
slave trade
External link:https://doi.org/10.3406/outre.2002.3992
Abstract:This article examines the relative importance of Muslim merchants in the slave trade in West Africa, including both the trans-Atlantic world and the trans-Saharan Islamic heartlands. It is argued that Muslim involvement in the slave trade limited the development of the Atlantic economy and reinforced an Islamic world that remained largely autonomous; Muslim commercial activity actually constrained the export of slaves across the Atlantic. The political transformation associated with jihad explains the comparatively low levels of exports to the Americas from Muslim areas, or areas where Muslim merchants were present, in spite of slavery constituting a 'mode of production' that integrated enslavement, slave trade and slave use on a large scale. The interior of West Africa seems to have resisted incorporation into the European-dominated Atlantic world as it evolved in the 18th and 19th centuries. This resistance is measured by the scale of slavery in the economies of the Muslim areas of West Africa, by comparing the numbers of enslaved Africans who were taken to the Americas with those who could have come from the Muslim areas of West Africa, and by the activities of the Muslim commercial class that dominated trade, including the slave trade, with the Atlantic coast of West Africa. Cultural, religious and political factors explain the restrictions on trade with the Atlantic world. Hence, the transformations in slavery in Muslim areas were largely directed internally. Ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract, edited]