Chapter

Everyday Commodities, the Rivers of Guinea, and the Atlantic World: The Beeswax Export Trade, <i>c</i>.1450–<i>c</i>.1800

MICHAEL W. TUCK

in Brokers of Change

Published by British Academy

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780197265208
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754180 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197265208.003.0013

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Everyday Commodities, the Rivers of Guinea, and the Atlantic World: The Beeswax Export Trade, c.1450–c.1800

Show Summary Details

Preview

This chapter argues that it was the actions of many common people in West Africa that created the trade systems linking the Atlantic World and the Upper Guinea coast. On one hand, Africans of the region were largely subsistence agriculturalists, but their need or desire for goods beyond what they could produce (or produce easily) led them to develop a commodity export trade. Important among these Africans were producers of non-slave commodities such as beeswax, which was exported from many locations along the coast but has not been the subject of study. The chapter traces the development of the beeswax export trade and the effects it had on local communities. In particular, it shows that as the slave trade grew to dominate commerce, the production and trade of beeswax by stateless people such as the Diola allowed them both to defend their communities from slave raiders and participate as raiders themselves.

Keywords: Upper Guinea; Diola; beeswax; slave trade; commodity trade; Gambia; African societies; Atlantic world

Chapter.  8291 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at British Academy »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.