Article

Africans in the Atlantic World

Toby Green

in African Studies

ISBN: 9780199846733
Published online April 2018 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0201
Africans in the Atlantic World

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The place of Africans in the Atlantic world is one of enormous, and contested, significance. Demographically, they form the large majority of those who crossed the Atlantic and settled in the Americas between the 16th and the middle of the 19th centuries. Nevertheless, traditional historiography suggested that African migrants were largely “passive victims” of the patterns of European colonization and settlement in the Americas. Since the 1990s, this idea has been challenged by a series of studies in a range of fields that show decisively the influence that African peoples had in shaping the emergence of Atlantic cultures. Scholars working in the fields of cultural, food, religious, and military history have all shown the many different ways in which African worldviews and actions contributed to the emergence of American societies. The most recent studies suggest continuities of revolutionary movements from West Africa into the Age of Revolutions in the Americas from the late 18th century onward. Meanwhile, though, new theoretical paradigms stressing the agency and involvement of Africans in New World societies themselves have drawn some criticism, as underestimating the impact of imperial violence in shaping the African experience. This powerful, important, and contested subject remains one of the liveliest fields in historical studies during the early modern period; this article should be read alongside that related to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, where works relating more specifically to Atlantic slavery are considered.

Article.  9713 words. 

Subjects: African History ; African Languages ; African Music ; African Philosophy ; African Studies

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