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Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas

Restoring the Links

Gwendolyn Midlo Hall

Publication Year: 2005

Enslaved peoples were brought to the Americas from many places in Africa, but a large majority came from relatively few ethnic groups. Drawing on a wide range of materials in four languages as well as on her lifetime study of slave groups in the New World, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall explores the persistence of African ethnic identities among the enslaved over four hundred years of the Atlantic slave trade. Hall traces the linguistic, economic, and cultural ties shared by large numbers of enslaved Africans, showing that despite the fragmentation of the diaspora many ethnic groups retained enough cohesion to communicate and to transmit elements of their shared culture. Hall concludes that recognition of the survival and persistence of African ethnic identities can fundamentally reshape how people think about the emergence of identities among enslaved Africans and their descendants in the Americas, about the ways shared identity gave rise to resistance movements, and about the elements of common African ethnic traditions that influenced regional creole cultures throughout the Americas. Drawing on a wide range of primary and secondary materials in four languages, Hall explores the persistence of African ethnic identity among slaves in the Americas and the Caribbean. Although slaves came from many places in Africa, a large majority of slaves came from just a few ethnic groups. Hall traces the linguistic, economic, and cultural ties shared by large numbers of slaves, showing that despite all the fragmentation of the diaspora, many ethnic groups were similar enough and retained enough cohesion to communicate and transmit elements of their shared culture. Hall concludes that recognition of this persistent Africanness should fundamentally reshape how scholars think about the emergence of racial and ethnic identity among slaves in the Americas, the ways shared identity gave rise to resistance movements, and the elements of common African culture that were spread throughout the Atlantic world. Cloth copies sold = 1410. 372 copies remain. To be included in Fall ‘07 inventory reduction sale, then OP/OS. Drawing on a wide range of materials in four languages as well as on a lifetime of study of slave groups in the New World, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall explores the persistence of African ethnic identities among the enslaved over four hundred years of the Atlantic slave trade. Hall traces the linguistic, economic, and cultural ties shared by large numbers of enslaved Africans, showing that despite the fragmentation of the diaspora, many ethnic groups retained enough cohesion to communicate and to transmit elements of their shared culture. Enslaved peoples were brought to the Americas from many places in Africa, but a large majority came from relatively few ethnic groups. Drawing on a wide range of materials in four languages as well as on her lifetime study of slave groups in the New World, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall explores the persistence of African ethnic identities among the enslaved over four hundred years of the Atlantic slave trade. Hall traces the linguistic, economic, and cultural ties shared by large numbers of enslaved Africans, showing that despite the fragmentation of the diaspora many ethnic groups retained enough cohesion to communicate and to transmit elements of their shared culture. Hall concludes that recognition of the survival and persistence of African ethnic identities can fundamentally reshape how people think about the emergence of identities among enslaved Africans and their descendants in the Americas, about the ways shared identity gave rise to resistance movements, and about the elements of common African ethnic traditions that influenced regional creole cultures throughout the Americas.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-xii

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Preface: Truth and Reconciliation

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pp. xiii-xviii

Americans throughout the Western Hemisphere owe a vast, but rarely acknowledged debt to Africa. Our national and regional cultures arose from the process of creolization: the cross-fertilization of the most adaptive aspects of the knowledge and traditions of the diverse peoples who met and mingled here. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xix-xxii

My life and career as a historian has been troubled by a combination of great faith in the social impact of history, growing confidence in the concrete and distrust of the abstract, lack of deference to changing fads in methodology and interpretation, self-assurance in my ability to do original and important work, ...

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1. Gold, God, Race, and Slaves

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pp. 1-21

Slavery in the Americas was justified by racist ideology. Many scholars as well as the wider public believe that black Africans were enslaved because they were viewed by whites as inferiors. But the identification of race with slavery is largely a projection backward in time of beliefs and ideologies that intensified during the four centuries of the Atlantic slave trade, ...

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2. Making Invisible Africans Visible: Coasts, Ports, Regions,and Ethnicities

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pp. 22-54

Studies of the African diaspora in the Americas began mainly during the early twentieth century among anthropologists: most notably Nina Rodriguez in Brazil and Fernando Ortiz in Cuba, and then a generation later by Frances and Melville Herskovits in the United States. Fieldwork was a primary methodology. ...

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3. The Clustering of African Ethnicities in the Americas

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pp. 55-79

Despite the staggering number of Africans introduced into the Americas during the Atlantic slave trade and their crucial role in creating its wealth and forming its cultures, their origins in Africa remain obscure. There is still a widespread belief among scholars as well as the general public that Africans dragged to various places in the Americas were fractionalized ...

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4. Greater Senegambia/Upper Guinea

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pp. 80-100

This chapter challenges some of the prevailing wisdom among historians who minimize the demographic and cultural contribution of peoples from Greater Senegambia to many important regions in the Americas. During the first 200 years of the Atlantic slave trade, Guinea meant what Boubacar Barry defines as Greater Senegambia: ...

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5. Lower Guinea: Ivory Coast, Gold Coast, Slave Coast/Bight of Benin

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pp. 101-125

In Lower Guinea, the European maritime traders named African coasts for the major products they purchased there. Liberia was called the Pepper Coast and later the Grain Coast. Coasts farther east were named the Ivory Coast, the Gold Coast, and the Slave Coast. ...

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6. Lower Guinea: The Bight of Biafra

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pp. 126-143

The Bight of Biafra is discussed here separately from the Ivory Coast, the Gold Coast, and the Slave Coast/Bight of Benin, the other regions also commonly considered part of Lower Guinea. Its geography, economy, and politics as well as the patterns of its transatlantic slave trade were distinct. ...

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7. Bantulands: West Central Africa and Mozambique

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pp. 144-164

The Atlantic slave trade in West Central Africa began very early and lasted very late. It has been estimated that between 40 and 45 percent of enslaved Africans brought to the Americas by the transatlantic slave trade were Bantu language group speakers from West Central Africa.1 ...

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Conclusion: Implications for Culture Formation in the Americas

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pp. 165-172

This book is only the beginning of the long, complex, challenging, but important task of restoring the severed links between Africa and the Americas. In order to understand the roots of cultures anywhere in the Americas, we must explore the pattern of introduction of Africans over time and place. ...

Appendix: Prices of Slaves by Ethnicity and Gender in Louisiana, 1719–1820

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pp. 173-180

Notes

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pp. 181-196

Bibliography

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pp. 197-212

Index

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pp. 213-225


E-ISBN-13: 9781469605180
E-ISBN-10: 146960518X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807829738
Print-ISBN-10: 0807829730

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 24 illus., 6 figs., 23 tables, 7 maps
Publication Year: 2005

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Subject Headings

  • Africans -- America -- Ethnic identity.
  • Slavery -- America -- History.
  • Slaves -- America -- History.
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