Spring 2024

Africa, Latin America, & the Atlantic Slave Trade

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-281  |  History, as HIST-285  |  Latinx and Latin Amer Studies, as LLAS-281


Russell Lohse (Section 01)


(Offered as BLST 281[CLA], HIST 285 [AF/LA/TR/TS] and LLAS 281) The Atlantic slave trade was, until the twentieth century, the largest migration in human history and one of the most consequential events in the history of the world. Its legacies continue to shape the histories of the Americas, Europe, and Africa itself. Between 1500 and 1860, more than 12.3 million African men, women, and children were loaded onto ships to be taken to the Americas. Nearly 2 million died on the Middle Passage. Of the 10.7 million who survived, the vast majority disembarked in Latin America and the Caribbean (by contrast, fewer than 4% arrived in what is now the United States). By the time English colonists purchased the first twenty African captives at Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, more than 428,000 Africans had already arrived in Latin America. This readings-based course examines the impacts of the Atlantic slave trade on Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean from the time of the first Portuguese incursions into West Africa in the 1440s until the last slave ships arrived in Cuba from Africa in the 1860s. Students will learn about such topics as how African men, women, and children came to be captured and enslaved in their home countries; the organization of the slave trade as a business and the enormous profits made by European and African slave merchants; the logistics of the Middle Passage; characteristics of the captives transported from Africa to the Americas; the long-term effects of the trade on African societies and economies; and most important, the Africans' own experiences of the Middle Passage. Students will be evaluated on class participation, a series of weekly reading notes, and two short papers.

Spring semester. Prof. Lohse.

How to handle overenrollment: null

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Written work, reading, class discussion

BLST 281 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM FROS 211
Th 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM FROS 211

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
The Birth of African-American Culture Beacon Press, 1992 Mintz, Sidney & Richard Price Amherst Books TBD
Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and sickness in the Middle Passage Univ. of Illinois Press, 2016 Mustakeem, Sowande Amherst Books TBD
Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora Harvard Univ. Press, 2007 Smallwood, Stephanie Amherst Books TBD
Slavery and Slaving in African History Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014 Stilwell, Sean Amherst Books TBD
Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441-1770 Univ. of North Caroline Press, 2003 Sweet, James Amherst Books TBD
Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640 Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2016 Wheat, David Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.