The Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade upon Africa
By Robin Law
The British debate over the abolition of the slave trade related not only to the sufferings of those who were enslaved and transported from Africa, but also to its implications for those who remained behind on the African continent. Abolitionists regularly argued that the slave trade had distorted and stunted the development of African societies: William Wilberforce in 1789, for example, represented the abolition of the slave trade as a form of "reparation to Africa", for the harm which it had allegedly caused there. Likewise, the recent campaign for the payment of "reparations" for the slave trade has commonly involved a demand for compensation to be paid to Africa, as well as (or rather than) to the descendants of the transported slaves, and has often presented the slave trade as one of the major historical causes of the poverty and underdevelopment of modern Africa. The lecture considers this issue in the light of the most recent scholarship on the history of Africa, with particular emphasis on the demographic and economic consequences of the slave trade.
Publication Date: 4/17/2008