Christopher Schmidt-Nowara

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online October 2011 | | DOI:

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The abolition of slavery in Latin America took place between the Wars of Independence of the 1810s and 1820s and the 1880s when slavery was finally suppressed in Cuba (in 1886) and Brazil (in 1888). Abolition thus coincided with the fight for (and the formation of) independent states in Latin America in the 19th century. Historians have paid increasing attention to this convergence, moving from economic and legal explanations to a focus on the conflicts not only over slavery but also over political and civil rights in emergent and consolidating national states. Within this broad framework, scholarship has concentrated on various topics, including slave agency, British pressure to suppress the slave traffic from Africa, abolitionism, and the transition from slavery to new labor regimes. In studying abolition, scholars need to keep in mind how much slavery varied across Latin America, including during the century of its demise. In the 19th century, the Wars of Independence in Spanish America, combined with British efforts to abolish the transatlantic slave trade, considerably weakened slaveholders and empowered slaves and supporters of abolition. In contrast, in Brazil and the Spanish Caribbean, the slave trade, which was illegal for much of the era, escalated, and plantation slavery spread at an incredible rate, especially in west-central Cuba and Brazil’s Paraíba Valley. Slavery persisted several decades longer in these places, and the struggles to abolish it were more complex. The scholarship is also more ample, so the reader will note that there are more works on abolition in Cuba and Brazil than in Mexico, Colombia, or other Spanish American countries.

Article.  9071 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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