Origins of the Black Atlantic

Edited by Laurent Dubois, Julius S. Scott

© 2009 – Routledge

414 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415994460
pub: 2009-09-14
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Hardback: 9780415994453
pub: 2009-09-14
US Dollars$145.00

Comp Exam Copy

About the Book

Between 1492 and 1820, about two-thirds of the people who crossed the Atlantic to the Americas were Africans. With the exception of the Spanish, all the European empires settled more Africans in the New World than they did Europeans. The vast majority of these enslaved men and women worked on plantations, and their labor was the foundation for the expansion of the Atlantic economy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Until relatively recently, comparatively little attention was paid to the perspectives, daily experiences, hopes, and especially the political ideas of the enslaved who played such a central role in the making of the Atlantic world. Over the past decades, however, huge strides have been made in the study of the history of slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic world. This collection brings together some of the key contributions to this growing body of scholarship, showing a range of methodological approaches, that can be used to understand and reconstruct the lives of these enslaved people.


'This excellent set of essays gathered and introduced by Laurent Dubois and Julius Scott will become a classic of its kind -- useful to scholars, teachers, and readers of history as long as we want to understand the world of race and class we live in.'

Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship: A Human History

'Any course on Atlantic revolutions would benefit from this anthology. It provides an important counter-weight to more Euro-centric accounts of the Age of Revolution by showing how enslaved people understood and re-imagined their role within the societies that had enslaved them.'

John D. Garrigus, author of Before Haiti: Race and Citizenship in French Saint-Domingue

'Laurent Dubois and Julius Scott have put together an up-to-date collection of the most interesting literature on the formation of the Black Atlantic, which could easily form the core of a course on the subject. They have been particularly careful to find literature that reveals the dynamic nature of Afro-Atlantic culture and its engagement with the political and cultural dimensions of the Americas.'

John Thornton

'An extraordinarily rich and skilfully assembled collection, and well suited to classroom use, this represents a valuable contribution to an increasingly sophisticated field.' Journal of American Studies

Table of Contents


Series Editor’s Preface



Part I: People and Ideas in Circulation

David Barry Gaspar, "’A Dangerous Spirit of Liberty’: Slave Rebellion in the West Indies in the 1730s"

Richard Sheridan, "The Jamaican Slave Insurrection Scare of 1776 and the American Revolution,"

Neville A.T. Hall, "Maritime Maroons: Grand Marronage from the Danish West Indies,"

Julius Scott, "The Common Wind: Currents of Afro-American Communication in the Era of the Haitian Revolution"

Part II: Atlantic Generations

Richard Gray, "The Papacy and the Atlantic Slave Trade: Lourenço da Silva, The Capuchins, and the Decisions of the Holy Office,"

Ira Berlin, "From Creole to African: Atlantic Creoles and the Origins of African-American Society in Mainland North America,"

Emily Clark and Virginia Meacham Gould, "The Feminine Face of Afro-Catholicism in New Orleans, 1727-1852,"

Part III: Africa in the Americas

John Thornton, "African Soldiers in the Haitian Revolution,"

João Reis, Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia, selections.

Kenneth Bilby, "Swearing by the Past, Swearing to the Future: Sacred Oaths, Alliances, and Treaties Among the Guianese and Jamaican Maroons,"

Part IV: Insurrection and Emancipation in the Atlantic

Matthew Childs, The 1812 Aponte Rebellion and the Struggle Against Slavery in Cuba

Eric Williams, "The Slaves and Slavery,"

Steven Hahn, "‘Extravagant Expectations’ of Freedom: Rumour, Political Struggle, and the Christmas Insurrection Scare of 1865 in the American South," Rebecca Scott, "Reclaiming Gregoria’s Mule: The Meanings of Freedom in the Arimao and Caunao Valleys, Cienfuegos, Cuba, 1880-1889,"

Permission Acknowledgements


About the Editors

Laurent Dubois is Professor of History at Duke University. He is the author of A Colony of Citizens: Revolution & Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804.

Julius Scott is a Lecturer in the History department at the University of Michigan. He is also part of their Center for Afroamerican and African Studies.

About the Series

Rewriting Histories

Rewriting Histories focuses on historical themes where standard conclusions are facing a major challenge. Each book presents ten to fifteen papers (edited and annotated where necessary) at the forefront of current research and interpretation, offering students an accessible way to engage with contemporary debates.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Revolutionary
HISTORY / Caribbean & West Indies / General
HISTORY / Essays