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1493: Slave rebellions

Next two chapters are on human migration, mostly about slavery. People got Colombian Exchanged as well.

There's a snarky analogy between the Iraq War and the Crusades. The Crusaders discovered sugar, an ecstatic experience. Sugar really shouldn't grow in the Middle East but irrigation cures many ills. Sugar takes lots of labor, and the Arabs paid high wages. Europeans did at first too, then less so. Iberian slavery was classical, lots of escape clauses. On Madeira and Sao Tome, not so much. Sao Tome was a malarial and yellow fever killing zone, Europeans dropping like flies.

1500-1840: 11.7 million Africans left for America, 3.4 Europeans. Slavery killed Africans, disease killed Europeans. We think of Europeans moving into mostly empty land, but outside of New England, and the late 19th century, the migration was more African than European, and into lands with still lots of Indians. African to European ratios of 3:1, 7;1, or in Suriname 25:1 come up. Africans mixed with Indians making maroons, not just individuals, but whole rebel communities, highland raiders. African prince founders Indian ways, taking in runaway Europeans too, lasting for centuries. Palmares. Quilombos. Often winning freedom and anonymity, and he gives many specific examples. Brazil, Haiti, Nicaragua, Mexico, the United States (the Great Swamp in Virginia, Seminoles in Georgia/Florida.) Alliances with Sir Francis Drake against the Spanish, alliances with the Florida Spanish against the English.

World's first Chinatown was -- well, outside Manila, probably, but then European Manila was hardly a city. He says Mexico City, which was big, filled largely with people not from the Americas, Spanish African and Chinese. Slavery of Africans in the Americas started really early, followed probably two days later by the running away of African slaves, cf. above. Balboa was the first European to see the Pacific, but runaway slaves probably saw it before him, he ran into some at the coast.

Palmares got defeated, teaching future communities to be less like big cities and more like widespread jungle villages. Lots of Brazil is considered empty, or was, but that ignores not just native tribes but quilombo descendants.

All in all, quite a lot of activity and agency that standard history doesn't even hint at, that the wikipedia pages do somewhat, and that you can learn more of by reading the book!

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/301323.html#comments



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 29th, 2011 10:55 am (UTC)
Beware and take care of the bight of Benin
For every one that comes out there are forty go in.

Rediker is enlightening on how deadly the slave ships were for Europeans, as well: it's easy to tell a racial story here but really the wheels of commerce ground everyone up.

Quilombos are remembered well to this day in Brazil, although what survives is more Robin Hood legends than quantitative history.
Nov. 29th, 2011 06:10 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I didn't get into it, but he mentions how little Europeans were physically involved in the trade, at least in Africa. Maps would show outposts up and down but most of them would have like 10 Europeans, or a few hundred in a few big ones, and probably replaced a lot. Africans gathered up the slaves and brought them -- in one case showing up unexpectedly and demanding that they be sold guns for their captives, requiring an emergency scramble to collect enough flintlocks.

Sounded like Brazil went through "ah quilombos, those are long gone", "well maybe a few survive, let us give them property rights", to "wait, *5000* communities?!!"
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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