Phillips Thesis Slavery

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Despite a steady history of escapes, uprisings, and other acts of resistance, the forces of the Atlantic market permeated the West African littoral, inexorably moving captive Africans into European hands.In coastal incarceration points as well as the holds of slave ships, Smallwood contends, slave merchants turned captives into commodities by determining the outer limits of suffering that captive Africans could endure without endangering the profits of their captors.

Here, Smallwood's innovative readings search the familiar ground of death and suffering to find new insight into the embodied meanings of enslavement.

For example, rather than count the total captives taken on board the not for aggregate mortality statistics but instead to illuminate the meanings Akan-speaking captives might have placed on the daily accretion of deaths at sea, unassisted by proper funerary ritual.

At the heart of this book lies the argument that for most African captives, the Atlantic World was not a coherent geographic entity, but a space of saltwater terror.

The Atlantic passage, then, was not a "Middle Passage" but an "experience of motion without discernible direction or destination" (p. is first and foremost a profound meditation on the historical process of commodification in early modern Atlantic markets.

Their journey to Ghana, however, dismantles the idea of a homecoming and the concept of a whole sense of self. These stories function partly as a means to affirm a sense of identity.

The silence and contradictions they find about the slavery past in Ghana force them to tell, and imagine, stories about well known historical figures instead, such as Jacobus Capitein, W. Despite the fact that there is no real closure, both authors stress the necessity to remember and acknowledge the history of slavery.

3) is no easy feat given the nature of Smallwood's evidence.

At times, Smallwood provides original interpretations of familiar evidence, such as ex-slave Charles Ball's account of an African-born father who placed a canoe and paddle on the grave of his son to allow the son passage back across the sea to Africa. id=13735 Copyright © 2007 by H-Net, all rights reserved.

Reviewed by Sharla Fett (Department of History, Occidental College) Published on H-Atlantic (October, 2007) In 1919, Carter G. "In just the same way as a writer of the history of New England in describing the fisheries of that section would have little to say about the species figuring conspicuously in that industry," charged Woodson, "so has the author treated the negro in his work."[1] The historiography on slavery and the slave trade in 2007 is worlds away from Phillips's early twentieth-century study.

Phillips's and found it severely lacking in its recognition of African American historical subjectivity.


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