Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora

TitleSaltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsSmallwood, Stephanie E.
Number of Pages273
PublisherHarvard University Press
CityCambridge, MA

In this volume, the author offers a look at the process of enslavement from its African origins through the Middle Passage and into the American slave market. This volume is animated by deep research and gives readers a graphic experience of the slave trade from the vantage point of the slaves themselves. The author begins the narrative on the shores of seventeenth-century Africa, tracing how the trade in human bodies came to define the life of the Gold Coast. She then explores the ports and stone fortresses where African captives were held and prepared, and then the Middle Passage itself. The volume portrays these men and women cramped in the holds of ships, gasping for air, and trying to make sense of an unfamiliar sea and an unimaginable destination. Arriving in America, the author shows how these new migrants enter the market for laboring bodies, and struggle to reconstruct their social identities in the New World. Throughout, the author examines how the people at the center of the story--merchant capitalists, sailors, and slaves--made sense of the bloody process in which they were joined. The result is both a transatlantic view of the culture of enslavement, and a vision of the bloody, daily business of the slave trade.

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