Brokers of Change: Atlantic Commerce and Cultures in Pre-colonial Western Africa

ISBN : 9780197265208

Toby Green
320 Pages
167 x 241 mm
Pub date
Aug 2012
Proceedings of the British Academy
Send mail

The Atlantic Ocean, transcending national boundaries as it does, has long been seen as a pivotal site for understanding the way in which local and regional economies and cultural frameworks gradually became integrated into a global system during the early modern era. A key concept that has brought new insight to the study of transnationalism is that of brokerage. Brokers are people who link up different worlds and are at ease in a variety of cultural settings; they have flexibility of outlook and cultural identification. Brokerage can explain and add nuance to the multiple cultural worlds and intense trade characteristics of regions of West Africa. The essays collected here are by leading scholars in the field of the pre-colonial history of Western Africa (the region between Senegal and Sierra Leone). They span the whole pre-colonial period between the first Portuguese voyages of discovery and the transition to legitimate commerce. The volume offers the first real synthesis of the importance of this region of Africa in the emergence of the Atlantic world between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. It has sections on African-European relations; the Cape Verde islands and wider Atlantic trade; trade in slaves and commodities; and the transition to 'legitimate' commerce. Thus the essays here offer scholars and general readers a real chance to engage with an important part of Africa.


1. Creolization and Creole communities in the Portuguese Atlantic: Sao Tome, Cape Verde and the Rivers of Guinea in comparison
2. A Motley Company: Differing Identities Among Euro-Africans in Eighteenth-Century Elmina
3. 'Into speyne to selle for slavys': English, Spanish and Genoese merchant networks and their involvement with the 'cost of gwynea' trade prior to 1550
4. Trading with Western Africa: 'Dutch' and Sephardim Insurance, Business and Agency (c. 1590-1674)
5. The French in Senegal: Trials and Tribulations of a Laboratory for " Francite " in the French Atlantic World (17th-19th Centuries)
6. The Earliest Christian Church in the Tropics: Excavation of the N.* S.* da Conceicao, Cidade Velha, Cape Verde
7. On the Dutch Presence in 17th-century Senegambia and the Emergence of Papiamentu
8. The Emergence of a Mixed Cultural Framework in Cape Verde in the 17th-Century
9. Slavery, Society and the First Steps Towards an Atlantic Revolution in Senegambia Western Africa (XV-XVI Centuries)
10. Bartering for Slaves on the Upper Guinea Coast in the Early Seventeenth Century
11. "Everyday Commodities, the Rivers of Guinea, and the Atlantic World: The Beeswax Export Trade, c.1450-c.1800"
12. American Trade with Cabo Verde and Guine, 1820s-1850s: Exploiting the Transition from Slave to legitimate Commerce
13. "A Commanding Commercial Position": the African settlement of Bolama island and Anglo-Portuguese rivalry (1830-1870)
14. 'Legitimate' traders, the building of empires and the long-term after-affects in Africa
15. Challenges of the Atlantic voices: A call for recognition, slavery and post slavery in West Africa

About the author: 

Toby Green is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Departments of History and of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, King's College London and an Honorary Fellow of the Centre of West African Studies, University of Birmingham. He is a director of the Amilcar Cabral Institute for Economic and Political Research, a think-tank dedicated to Guinea-Bissau.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.