By Keith Bradley
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Extra info for The Cambridge World History of Slavery [Vol. 3]
But the basic reason for the imbalance, apart from the fact that few Europeans could survive in sub-Saharan Africa, was the almost total absence of European women and children on the African coast, and the essentially nonconfrontational nature of the relationship between African polities and European slave traders. 11 In the temperate North Americas, by contrast, there was large-scale settlement by Europeans in the aftermath of the demographic disaster that overtook the Indian population. ), Extending the Frontiers: Essays on the New Transatlantic Slave Trade Database (New Haven, CT, 2008), pp.
That the vast majority of the people who made this move were unwilling Africans was precisely because the peoples of Europe had some choice over the decision to migrate. When the options in the Americas narrowed to working on a sugar estate – the major reason for people crossing the Atlantic for nearly three centuries after the late 1500s – then voluntary migrants avoided the plantation labor force option and did their moving within Europe rather than between continents, but when alternative forms of agriculture developed, free-labor migration was renewed on a much larger scale.
Claims for compensation to the descendants of the enslaved (reparations) developed as an issue only in the twentieth century. Viewing abolition through the lens of social identity does offer some prospect of finessing these older debates, as well as coming to terms with the continuance of slavery in those parts of Asia and Africa that viewed slavery as an integral part of societies organized around kin groupings. Such an approach also reduces the distance between slave systems dedicated to the exaction of labor and those whose aim is to augment the social group.