Chapter

‘A Commanding Commercial Position’: The African Settlement of Bolama Island and Anglo-Portuguese Rivalry (1830–1870)

PHILIP J. HAVIK

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/9780197265208.003.0015

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

‘A Commanding Commercial Position’: The African Settlement of Bolama Island and Anglo-Portuguese Rivalry (1830–1870)

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The attempt to establish plantation agriculture on the island of Bolama by British settlers in the early 1790s triggered a scramble for West Africa's resources in the Guinea Bissau region. The dispute and its eventual settlement in Portugal's favour in 1870 was to heighten the already tense Anglo-Portuguese relations as a result of the latter's resistance to the abolition of the slave trade. However, this territorial dispute has overshadowed the regional aspects of the island's settlement. Rather than being a mere object of European designs, the island was also the locus of rivalry between local trade lineages and African communities, and even the site of personal infighting due to their own particular dynamics. This chapter focuses on this local and regional momentum that continued regardless of the broader conflict, involving slaves, freed slaves, Christianised Africans, African migrants and trader-planters, producing distinct patterns of settlement and crop cultivation.

Keywords: British empire; Portuguese empire; slave trade; export agriculture; peanuts; cotton; African colonisation; ethnic groups; West Africa; Portuguese Senegambia

Chapter.  22012 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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