Asian and African Systems of Slavery

An introduction to the Indian Ocean slave trade
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Emmanuel Terray has argued that the price differential between the coast and the interior demonstrated that the trans- Atlantic trade had little influence on the internai trade of West Africa, that. Hence whether the interior market and the. Saharan trade actually valued women over men has not been demonstrated satisfactorily. The Atlantic trade paid more for men, but as I demonstrate elsewhere, the apparent differential is misleading, since the value of maies in the interior was much higher than the market price.

What explains the apparent contradiction between a high of slaves retained internally and a relatively low level of exports to the Atlantic coast appears to be a disregard for the practice of ransoming, which was also a factor in determining the price of slaves.

The Transatlantic Slave Trade

Muslim Commercial Structures. Despite tensions, the relationship between the Muslim merchant class and the new aristocracy can hardly be described as a situation of "conflicting solidarity". Nor does this approach distinguish areas where there were Muslims, whether in political control or as minorities, with other parts of Africa where there were no Muslims. During the era of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, much of West Africa remained under the control of Muslim merchants — despite the collapse of Songhay as a large Islamic state that protected and promoted long-distance trade.

Muslims were the major traders on the routes that connected to the rivers of Rio Nunez and Rio Pongo on the upper Guinea coast, as well as at Sierra Leone. Known as Juula Djula , Jakhanke, Yarse, Wangara, they had a corporate identity as merchants and Muslims, living in their own communities and in separate wards in non-Muslim towns. Muslims were found at Abomey, the capital of Dahomey, but not at Ouidah again until the s. The leading merchant at Porto Novo in the late s and early s, Pierra Tamata, was Hausa in origin, although educa- ted in France.

Oyo policy specifically promoted trade between the coast and the central Sudan, and this trade inevitably involved Muslim merchants. Muslims also retur- ned from Cuba and Trinidad, and thereafter Muslim quarters existed in ail the coastal towns. Evidence of entrepreneurial skills, the rational allocation of resour- ces and capital, and the use of literacy for contracts were common.

Merchants were organized into corporate groups that recognized common origins, which either reflected a geographical homeland or immigrant status, the principal groups in the eighteenth century being. Merchant groups tended to dominate the trade in particular commodities, the Wangara controlling trade to the west in kola nuts, textiles and the redistribution of sait to the west from the market centers of Hausa- land.

The merchants from Borno controlled the sources of the various salts of Borno as well as the textile trade. The reasons why West Africa, and particularly the Islamic states of the interior, did not generate a "capita- list" solution to development relate more to opportunities and constraints. The opportunities were calculated in terms of the larger Islamic world, while constraints were initiated to protect society and state from European Hausa merchants were closely integrated with the local aristocracy after the jihad in the early nineteenth century. Such practices were also common in other parts of West Africa affected by the jihad movement, and hence the distinction between those areas of strong Muslim influence and other parts of Africa is in fact It is important to note the close association between the class of Muslim merchants and the Islamic educational System; scholars and merchants could be from the same families, and individuals might shift the focus of their careers between commerce and scholarship in the course of their lives.

What were their ancestors? The risks were proven when some merchants ended up in slavery in the Americas. Muhammad Kaba Saghanaghu, Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua, Abubakar al-Siddiq can serve as examples, but there were other merchants, intellectuals, and religious leaders who were subjected to enslave- ment which robbed society of their potential. The aim was to protect Muslims from enslavement, but this proved to be impossible to achieve.

Muslims were involved in the slave trade in various ways; first as traders, and where and when they were involved can be documented, as well as their relative importance in the trade. Whether Muslims were virtually the only long-distance merchants, as in much of the interior of West Africa, or whether they traveled in caravans through non-Muslim areas and required the protection of local governments, Muslim law and commercial institutions were developed along lines that were closely associated with practices in Morocco and the Ottoman domains.

Beyond areas of dominant Muslim control, as in the ports on the coast and along the routes to them that passed through non-Muslim states, Muslim.

Hence there is a sharp distinction between the area west of the Niger delta, and the Bight of Biafra and west-central Africa. Muslim Restrictions on the Slave Trade. Cultural, religious, and political factors relating to Islam restricted the trade with the Atlantic world, but only in slaves. And it is precisely in the areas experiencing the first jihads that led into the interior and therefore indicating the attempts to limit the impact of the trans- Atlantic trade.

The Old Corruption (Britain's Slave Trade Documentary) - Timeline

The corridor of jihad stret- ched inward from Senegambia through Futa Toro to Massina, where to the sale of Muslims or slaves held by Muslims was strong. Muslims and the enemies of Muslim governments were exported, but not in any sustained way that responded clearly to market forces from the Atlantic. Opportunism and political revenge can be credited with the export of ensla- ved people from the interior, not conscious political intent.

Slavery in Portugal - Wikipedia

The inability to achieve this protection was part of the crisis in West Africa relating to the slave trade that clearly influenced the timing and direction of religious and political reform associated vfithjihad, although demonstrating this is not easy. On the other hand, Futa Toro attempted to protect domestic slaves from being exported. Certainly, there was no uniformity, and it was relatively easy for individual merchants or government officiais to circumvent policies that can be described as "Muslim.

Muslim leaders were actively opposed to the sale of slaves to Europeans, as Muhammad Bello, the son and successor to Shaikh Usman dan Fodio of Sokoto, made clear to the British diplomats who visited the Sokoto Caliphate in the s. In desiring to promote a "friendly relation," Sokoto would henceforth "prohi- bit the exportation of slaves by our merchants to Atagher [Atagara, i. Idah, on the Niger], Dahomi [Dahomey], and Ashantee. In fact, slaves were sold south from the Sokoto Caliphate, and hence slave sales cannot be credited to the enemies of the Caliphate, at least not in ail cases, but the situations in which slaves were consciously sold south, with the likelihood of ending up in the Americas, are instructive.

According to Clap- perton, only "refractory slaves" were sold, ail others being retained within the Caliphate or sold north to other Islamic areas.

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According to what he was told, several concubines accused of the strangulation of their master, a merchant from Ghadames, were deported to the coast, for sale to the Americas. According to the merchant's. It had been customary, in cases of this kind, to send the perpetrators of similar crimes to the sea-coast, to be sold to the slave-dealers. Most female slaves who were exported went north across the Sahara, but "criminals" were clearly a separate category, along with other "refractory and intractable" slaves.

Antecedents and Models

Asian and African Systems of Slavery. Front Cover · Watson. University of Jack GoodySlavery in Time and Space. Philip BurnhamRaiders. Asian and African Systems of Slavery. Front Cover. James L. Watson. Blackwell, - Economic anthropology - pages. 0 Reviews.

Hence al-Hajj 'Umar Tal, who Consolidated the Tijiniyya tariqa over much of the western Sudan in his jihad, declared in the mid s that "To sell Muslim slaves to the Europeans or to others, is totally prohibited. After returning from pilgrimage and settling in Sokoto in the early s, 'Umar issued a condemning report on the external slave trade of the Caliphate. In his view, "no one can be more ignorant and arrogant than sinful and criminal people who legalize enslavement of free people by an act of fatwa. They act as if it were no longer obligatory upon them to do so.

Instead, those who were newly enslaved were generally settled within the Sokoto Caliphate. It is instructive that the issue was important enough that the Caliphate attempted to do so. There were attempts to limit that influence, and the attempts to protect freeborn Muslims amounted to policies of partial abolition to protect Muslims, while still countenancing slavery.

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This does not mean that there were fewer slaves or a lessening of the scale of enslavement, but that trade was directed inward and into the Islamic world, rather than out of it. While there was some "seepage" of enslaved Muslims from the jihad era, relatively few enslaved Muslims or people enslaved by Muslims were sold to the Atlantic coast, it appears.

Geographical factors and demography do not explain this relatively restricted involvement of the West African interior in the trans- Atlantic market. In terms of population and proximity to ports that served the Atlantic, the West African interior suffered no disadvantages with the of Angola, for example. Although Muslims presided over a large trade in slaves, ties to the Atlantic were limited in comparison with areas where other, non-Muslim merchants dominated the supply mechanisms for the trans- Atlantic trade. It could be argued that distance from the coast and the availability of alternate.

It is not easy to distinguish between religious and non-religious factors. As noted above, political factors sometimes determined that Muslims sold their political opponents to merchants involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which cannot be explained simply in terms of market forces or cultural norms. In fact, numerous factors explain why areas under the control of Muslims limited the involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, including distance from the coast, but it is my contention that religious issues were paramount.

Paul E.

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Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery. See, for example, Claire C. Robertson and Martin A. Fisher and Humphrey J. For a discussion of gender and price differentials between the trans-Atlantic and trans-Saharan trades, see Paul E. Robertson and Klein state that the "European export market purchased maie slaves by a margin of at least two to one Gemery and J.

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Hogendorn eds. Also see the essays in Paul E. Walter Hawthorne, "Nourishing a Stateless Society during the Slave Trade : The Rise of Balanta Paddy-Rice Producing in Guinea-Bissau," Journal of African History, 42, 1, , , explores one such society on the upper Guinea coast, although it should be noted that the area studied by Hawthorne is wedged between the sea and the Futa Jallon highlands, and its autonomy as "small-scale" society had to do with geography ; the area was for ail intents and purposes a place of refuge from expanding Islamic influence.

Slavery in Africa

York University, ; Michael Mason, Cain and A. Also see David Eltis and Lawrence C. Joseph C. Miller, "World According to Meillassoux.