Lovejoy P. and Richardson D. (2001) Pawnship in West Africa during the slave trade

July 7, 2009

Lovejoy, Paul E. and Richardson, David (2001) “The Business of Slaving: Pawnship in Western Africa, c.1600-1810”, The Journal of African History, 42/1, 67-89.

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“The institution of pawnship, specially the use of people as collateral for credit, helped underpin the Atlantic slave trade” (p.68). Leaving people as collateral solve the trust issue attached to credit (p.69).

Several types of pawnships existed (p.70). Europeans often reported the habit for one to pawn himself if too poor to survive. People also often offered themselves as collateral for a credits and  if they failed to repay, they became slaves for debt (p.71). In domestic trade the use of pawns to guarantee a debt seem to have been fairly common in 18th-century West Africa. The institution seems to have been indigenous (p.72). Read the rest of this entry »