The Consequences Of The Atlantic Slave Trade

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The Atlantic Slave Trade was an extensive system of chattel slavery that dealt exclusively in the trade of black Africans. Chattel slavery is markedly different from other forms of servitude as it involved the actual ownership, in law, of one human over another - as opposed to punitive slavery which used convicted criminals as a source of free labour. It is important to remember, when talking about the Atlantic Slave Trade, that slavery was not a new invention and that slaves were to be found throughout the ancient world, being an integral part of some of the most iconic cultures we know of to this day – Romans, Vikings and Babylonians were notorious slave owners and traders in their own times.
British involvement in the Atlantic Slave Trade
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- Though not an official part of the Block 4 materials, the Open Learn article Riches & Misery: The Consequences Of The Atlantic Slave Trade by Dr William Hardy (2014) offers an complimentary insight into the consequences of the Atlantic Slave Trade.
- The most obvious consequence for West Africa stems from the loss of the strongest men and women from the continent, as they would have been prime targets for slavers and would have fetched the highest prices.
- The loss of these men and women abroad meant losing a strong workforce for African infrastructure as well as moving desirable, dominant genetics out of the gene pool.
- The article by Dr Hardy also highlight that having slaves as their largest export could have caused stagnation in Africa’s developing economy as they failed to develop other sources of income due to slavery being so profitable.
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- There is often a focus on the negative side-effect of slavery but Hardy is quick to point out a fact not usually highlighted in discussions about the slave trade:
- “And yet, one very positive factor could also be witnessed in these dire circumstances: the creativity with which, gradually, the black communities of the Americas developed new identities, drawing on a combination of African tradition, encounters with European culture, and experiences in the New World. For all the miseries of the slave years, this would prove to be a great enrichment of cultural life, and would contribute to the global culture of modern times.” (SOURCE)
- He highlights a very true fact that, without the presence of these men and women in Western society, we would be lacking many of the things we recognise as ‘normal’ in our daily lives, especially in terms of music, art and dance.
- However, one silver lining to a trade build on the misery and dehumanisation of an entire people cannot be rightfully called a

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