Austin G. (2009) Coercion and labour market in pre-colonial West Africa

May 19, 2009

Austin, Gareth (2009) “Coercion and markets: the political economy of slavery in West Africa, c.1450-1900”, paper presented for the Séminaire: Travail et conditions de vie en Afrique dans la longue durée, at the Paris School of Economics, 18/05/09.



The use of slave labour in pre-colonial Western Africa has often been attributed to the small human densities in the region. But this argument is in contradiction with the fact that slavery was relatively uncommon in the area before the development of the Atlantic slave trade. Indeed, it is the European demand for African bond labour that created the mechanisms that were subsequently used by the “domestic” slave trade. Those two markets were complementary, in particularly, the Atlantic slave trade concentrated on men while the domestic demand was centred on women. Read the rest of this entry »

Subrahmayam S. and Thomaz L. F. (1991) The Portuguese in the Indian Ocean during the 16th century

August 24, 2008

Subrahmayam Sanjay and F. R. Thomaz Luis Felipe (1991) “Evolution of empire: The Portuguese in the Indian Ocean during the sixteenth century” in The Political Economy of Merchant Empire. State Power and World Trade 1350-1750, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 298-331.

This book is available on google for every one to read!!!

Models of expansion

Before Da Gama‘s voyage (1498), the Portuguese were already involved in overseas colonisation. Their expansion followed three main models:

  1. In North Africa, a network of fortresses involved in endemic warfare with their neighbouring hinterland.
  2. In the Atlantic Islands, an agrarian and territorial settlement by Portuguese colons.
  3. In Guinea, a network of commercial coastal emporium involved in peaceful relationships with their surrounding. Read the rest of this entry »