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 »