Mercantile Culture of the Slave Trade: Piracy and Broken Monopolies in the African Atlantic World, 1621-1720


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project explores the various challenges to Dutch and English monopoly in the Atlantic slave trade from 1621 to 1720. Drawing on English, Dutch, Prussian, and Swedish documents of the trade, as well as archaeological evidence, it contextualizes how West African peoples, such as the Ahanta and Fetu, pitted European slave traders against one another in order to weaken the growing power of the English and Dutch in Africa. This led to a fragmentation of the trade, perpetuating a mercantile culture dependent upon personal relationships which undercut royal monopolies. These broken monopolies led to the destruction of the mercantilist system and the rise of free trade capitalism in the early modern world. This project describes the African contributions to that process.