MARCH 2015: A ‘New Guinea’ in the Americas: Enslaved Africans in the Eighteenth-Century Salvador, Brazil

The EUROTAST fellows will be presenting the findings of their research at the upcoming Genetics/Heritage conference, 23-25 April at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool. Deadline for registration to attend the conference is March 30th. To attend the conference, visit the Genetics/Heritage website.


Sculpture of Zumbi dos Palmares, hero of the resistance struggle against slavery, installed in the Praça da Sé , Salvador.


Title: A ‘New Guinea’ in the Americas: Enslaved Africans in the Eighteenth-Century Salvador, Brazil

Author: Carlos Silva

Throughout the eighteenth century, more than in any other period, the transatlantic slave trade supplied Brazilian labor demands. In the first years of the century, over 6,000 people disembarked every year in Salvador, the second largest enslaving port in the Americas after Rio de Janeiro. In the late eighteenth century, this number increased for 8,000-9,000 annually. Their number and origins were so in diverse that in 1715 a French observer commented that Salvador appeared a ‘New Guinea’. In fact, enslaved Africans arrived from different origins (West, West Central, and East Africa). This was the best way to prevent rebellions, according to Portuguese colonial authorities.

However, certain places, such as Salvador, had a high concentration of Africans of the same region of origin, or ‘Nation’. They came primarily from the Bight of Benin, the second largest enslaving region in Africa, only after West Central Africa. So that it is likely that many slaves from the same ethnic group – perhaps same community – were in contact in the eighteenth-century Salvador. This paper aims to discuss the presence of enslaved Africans in Salvador in the eighteenth century. The focus will be, however, on the West African population, which represented over 60% of all Africans in this period. From an Africanist perspective, I intend to analyze their origins, how they were enslaved and shipped to the Portuguese America. Finally, it will be considered the masters’ apprehensions on the concentration of slaves from the same origin and its consequence to the eighteenth-century Brazilian society.

Categorized: EUROTAST Reporting
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