Working the DiasporaThe Impact of African Labor on the Anglo-American World, 1650-1850

Working the DiasporaThe Impact of African Labor on the Anglo-American World, 1650-1850

Frederick C. Knight

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780814748183

Publisher: NYU Press

Abstract

From the sixteenth to early nineteenth centuries, four times more Africans than Europeans crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. While this forced migration stripped slaves of their liberty, it failed to destroy many of their cultural practices, which came with Africans to the New World. This book examines work cultures on both sides of the Atlantic, from West and West Central Africa to British North America and the Caribbean. It demonstrates that the knowledge that Africans carried across the Atlantic shaped Anglo-American agricultural development and made particularly important contributions to cotton, indigo, tobacco, and staple food cultivation. The book also argues that the work experience of slaves shaped their views of the natural world. It challenges readers to alter their conceptual frameworks about Africans by looking at them as workers who, through the course of the Atlantic slave trade and plantation labor, shaped the development of the Americas in significant ways.