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This edited collection, written by leading specialists, deals with nineteenth-century commercial transition in West Africa: the ending of the Atlantic slave trade and development of alternative forms of "legitimate" trade. Approaching the subject from an African perspective, the case studies consider the effects of transition on the African societies involved, and provide new insights into the history of precolonial Africa and the slave trade, origins of European imperialism, and longer term issues of economic development in Africa.
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During the nineteenth century, the trans-Atlantic slave trade was made illegal and eventually suppressed, and superseded by alternative forms of 'legitimate' trade with western Africa, especially in vegetable products such as palm oil. This commercial transition marks the beginning of the modern economic history of the region. This book considers the implications of that process for the African societies involved, through ten case-studies written by leading specialists in the field. These studies address the central issue of continuity and change in economic structures, and critically assess the argument that the transition posed a 'crisis of adaptation' for African rulers by undermining their control over the income from overseas trade. Also highlighted are the effects of transition on slavery and gender relations within Africa and its links to the growth of European imperialism, culminating in the Partition of Africa at the end of the nineteenth century.Review:
"The volume nicely marks the maturation in African historiography since Hopkins first raised the question inspiring it." Historian
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