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West Africa in the British Atlantic: trade, violence, and empire in the 1640s

Blakemore, R. J. ORCID: (2015) West Africa in the British Atlantic: trade, violence, and empire in the 1640s. Itinerario, 39 (2). pp. 299-327. ISSN 0165-1153

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1017/S0165115315000480


The importance of Africa and African agency in the formation of the Atlantic world is now widely acknowledged by historians, but Africa has drawn less attention than other regions in analyses of the British Atlantic. Drawing upon the nascent methodology of global microhistory, this article contributes to a scholarly rebalancing by examining two maritime lawsuits from the 1640s concerning British voyages to Senegambia and Sierra Leone, both of which resulted in conflict between British seafarers and with their African trading partners. A close study of the documents surviving from these lawsuits provides an unusually detailed glimpse of these particular moments of contact and violence across cultures. More fundamentally, such an approach illuminates the ocean-spanning networks within which these ventures took place, and reveals the ways in which British traders and sailors perceived trade in Africa within their own legal frameworks. This article argues that by the middle of the seventeenth century, as merchants and politicians in Britain began to imagine an Atlantic empire, trade in West Africa was an important part of their vision of the Atlantic world.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > History
ID Code:71911
Publisher:Cambridge University Press


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