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Slavery and Antislavery in Spain's Atlantic Empire

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Volume 9

European Expansion & Global Interaction

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Slavery and Antislavery in Spain's Atlantic Empire

Edited by Josep M. Fradera and Christopher Schmidt-Nowara†

340 pages, 18 figures & tables, 5 maps, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-933-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (June 2013)

ISBN  978-1-78533-026-1 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (December 2015)

eISBN 978-0-85745-934-3 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This important collection of essays illustrates the rich work about Spanish slavery and antislavery that has been produced recently in Spain and the United States. Spanish abolitionism is viewed in the Spanish imperial context, its specific relation to slavery, and its connection to broader Atlantic processes. The volume will surely inspire continued debate among scholars in Europe and the United States, as well, hopefully, as Latin America.” · New West Indian Guide

“The essays in this volume make an important contribution to understanding the process through which European empires shifted, as Seymour Drescher’s aptly titled contribution puts it, 'from empires of slavery to empires of antislavery'(p. 291). They do so by centering on Spain and its Atlantic empire. This focus results in the volume’s most significant contribution and resounding statement: that the Spanish empire, far from being ‘a case apart in the study of slavery and abolition’ (p. 1), played an important role in the histories of slavery and antislavery in the Atlantic world…a wonderful book that could productively be assigned to an undergraduate audience.” · Hispanic American Historical Review (HAHR)

“[I]nnovative, well-organized, thoroughly-researched, and engagingly written collection. All contributions are informed by the most recent relevant historiographies as well as by pertinent theoretical literature. The book represents an original and significant contribution to an under-studied topic: the history of slavery, plantation slavery, and abolitionism in the Spanish imperial system.” · Jesus Cruz, University of Delaware

“[A]n important and timely volume, with an all-star cast of contributors from many countries, each approaching the topic of Spanish abolitionism from a different angle.” · Kris Lane, Tulane University

“This is an outstanding volume that addresses and analyses a significant set of questions in the history of slavery and the history of colonial and post-independence Latin America…The editors and authors deal eloquently and effectively with the current concepts and methodologies in slavery and Ibero-American studies.” · William D. Phillips, Jr., University of Minnesota


African slavery was pervasive in Spain’s Atlantic empire yet remained in the margins of the imperial economy until the end of the eighteenth century when the plantation revolution in the Caribbean colonies put the slave traffic and the plantation at the center of colonial exploitation and conflict. The international group of scholars brought together in this volume explain Spain’s role as a colonial pioneer in the Atlantic world and its latecomer status as a slave-trading, plantation-based empire. These contributors map the broad contours and transformations of slave-trafficking, the plantation, and antislavery in the Hispanic Atlantic while also delving into specific topics that include: the institutional and economic foundations of colonial slavery; the law and religion; the influences of the Haitian Revolution and British abolitionism; antislavery and proslavery movements in Spain; race and citizenship; and the business of the illegal slave trade.

Josep M. Fradera is Professor of History at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and the author of La nación imperial. Derechos, representación y ciudadanía en los imperios de Gran Bretaña, Francia, España y los Estados Unidos (2015).

Christopher Schmidt-Nowara† was Professor of History and Prince of Asturias Chair in Spanish Culture & Civilization at Tufts University.  He was at work on a translation and edition of Joseph Blanco White’s Bosquexo del comercio en esclavos.

Subject: Colonial History History (General)
Area: Southern Europe Latin America and the Caribbean


Introduction: Colonial Pioneer, Plantation Latecomer
Josep M. Fradera and Christopher Schmidt-Nowara

Chapter 1. The Slave Trade in the Spanish Empire (1501-1808): The Shift from Periphery to Center
Josep M. Delgado

Chapter 2. The Portuguese Missionaries and Early Modern Antislavery
Luiz Felipe de Alencastro

Chapter 3. The Economic Role of Slavery in a Non-Slave Society: The River Plate, 1750-1860
Juan Carlos Garavaglia

Chapter 4. Slaves and the Creation of Legal Rights in Cuba: Coartación and Papel (reprinted from Hispanic American Historical Review)
Alejandro de la Fuente

Chapter 5. Cuban Slavery and Atlantic Antislavery (reprinted from Review: A Journal of the Fernand Braudel Center)
Ada Ferrer

Chapter 6. Wilberforce Spanished: Joseph Blanco White and Spanish Antislavery, 1808-1814
Christopher Schmidt-Nowara

Chapter 7. Spanish Merchants and the Slave Trade: From Legality to Illegality, 1814-1870
Martín Rodrigo

Chapter 8. The Amistad: Ramón Ferrer, Cuba, and the Transatlantic Dimensions of Slaving and Contraband Trade
Michael Zeuske

Chapter 9. Antislavery before Abolitionism: Networks and Motives in Early Liberal Barcelona, 1833-1844
Albert Garcia Balañà

Chapter 10. Moments in a Postponed Abolition
Josep M. Fradera

Chapter 11. From Empires of Slaves to Empires of Antislavery
Seymour Drescher

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