The Transatlantic Slave Trade And Africa

In the last two decades, scholars have analyzed and debated the transatlantic slave trade and this eventually transformed the field of Atlantic history. John Thornton’s Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1680 changed the way scholars view the role of Africans because of its revisionist perspective and ground breaking interpretations of the slave trade. This book clearly changed the way the scholars analyzed the role of Africans in the British and Spanish Empires because it challenged traditional notions about the institution. Thornton argues that African merchants and rulers willing participated in the slave trade; thus, the unwilling victims of slavery were active in their own subjugation.  While the author clearly articulates his thesis in a cohesive manner, he overlooks and simplifies information that would support/improve his argument. The author divides the text into main sections to provide a clear distinction between events in Africa and the cultural transformations in the New World. In the first section, Thornton examines the interactions between Africans and the Portuguese, Spanish and British on the African mainland. According the author, the development of commerce, the origins of navigation, and economic goals differed between the two groups, which affected social and cultural relations. For instance, Thornton comments that an older “romantic school of historians maintained that Europeans undertook this exploration for the pure joy of
 

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