Africa and the Atlantic World

David Northrup

in Atlantic History

ISBN: 9780199730414
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:
Africa and the Atlantic World

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  • History of the Americas
  • European History
  • African History
  • History
  • Regional and National History


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Africa from Morocco to the Cape of Good Hope experienced new contacts with Europeans during the four centuries before 1850. Growing Atlantic exports and imports from the 1400s affected coastal societies most and also impacted inland areas. Africans sought a variety of manufactured goods, of which cloth and metals were the most important, and exported gold, ivory, forest products, and slaves. Due to demand in the Americas, the volume of the trade expanded, with human captives becoming the principal export from the 1680s. Following the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade, Africans expanded their exports of ivory and vegetable oil. Because the Atlantic slave trade is the subject of a separate Oxford Bibliography Online, this bibliography is primarily focused on the larger importance of Atlantic connections for Africa. There is much greater consensus on the importance of Africa for the development of the Americas than there is on the Atlantic’s importance for Africa before 1850. Moving away from a paradigm that projected the victimization of enslaved Africans onto the continent as a whole, most scholars now emphasize that African traders and rulers generally engaged the Atlantic from positions of military, diplomatic, and commercial strength. Little territory was lost to outsiders, and the volume of the Atlantic trade was modest compared with internal inter-African trade and continuing trade with the Islamic world. While significant in African ports, European languages, education, and religious beliefs did not spread far inland.

Article.  7491 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; European History ; African History ; History ; Regional and National History

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