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Working the DiasporaThe Impact of African Labor on the Anglo-American World, 1650-1850$
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Frederick C. Knight

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814748183

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814748183.001.0001

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Seeds of Change

Seeds of Change

African Agricultural Workers in the Anglo-American Colonies

(p.33) 2 Seeds of Change
Working the Diaspora

Frederick C. Knight

NYU Press

This chapter explores the interaction between mixed labor forces that included Africans, Indians, and the English; and shows how enslaved Africans, coming out of environments with a range of agricultural knowledge, survived in the New World in part by drawing upon skills they brought from the Old. It considers the environmental constraints within which African agriculturalists worked, showing that to make their living out of fragile environments they developed a range of strategies such as crop mixtures and rotations. Monocrop production was rare, agriculturalists remained open to new crops, and African women played an important role in experimenting with New World cultigens. The chapter also traces the role of African agriculturalists in staple food production in the Anglo-American world.

Keywords:   New World, African agriculturalists, environmental constraints, fragile environments, agricultural strategies, New World cultigens, staple food production

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