SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

H280 Atlantic Slavery and Its Legacies: Western Africa Ca 1500-2000

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2019/2020
Taught in:
Full Year

This course is about the history and legacy of the Atlantic slave trade in Western Africa from Senegambia in the west down to the Congo and Angola in central Africa. It gives a political and economic understanding of key developments and of social and cultural change and continuity. The period covered is the last five hundred years, in a format that explores the rise, implementation, abolition and legacy of the Atlantic slave trade in the lives of the peoples of Western Africa. Lectures and classes will attend to these themes.


  • This Module is capped at 30 places
  • Students enrol via the on-line Module Sign-up system. Students are advised of the timing of this process via email by the Dept. administrator

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

The objective of this course is to examine Atlantic slavery and its legacies in Western Africa ca. 1500-2000. The course considers

  1. the causes of the transatlantic slave trade from Western Africa; 
  2. the consequences of involvement in the transatlantic slave trade for the societies of Western Africa;
  3. the histories of the West African kingdoms of Asante and Dahomey in the era of the transatlantic slave trade;
  4. the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade and its consequences for the societies of Western Africa;
  5. the local and global legacies of the transatlantic slave trade for the societies of present day Western Africa. Atlantic slavery is a compelling topic in world history, and this courses introduces students to the Western African historiography concerning it.

By the conclusion of this course students should be able to:

  1. identify and explain the significance of key historical events and developments in Western Africa during the era of the Atlantic slave trade;
  2. understand the consequences and legacies of the Atlantic slave trade for the states and societies of present day Western Africa;
  3. work responsibly and where appropriate collaboratively to further their skills in researching and writing historical essays, delivering seminar presentations and thinking critically about historical issues.

Method of assessment

Exam (50%) and 3 x Coursework (50%)

Suggested reading

  • S. Diouf ed.: Fighting the Slave Trade: West African strategies (2004)
  • D. Eltis: Economic Growth & the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (1987)
  • J. Inikori ed.: Forced Migration: the impact of the export slave trade on African societies (1982)
    • Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England: a study of international trade and economic development (2002)
  • H.S. Klein: The Atlantic Slave Trade (1999)
  • P. Lovejoy: Transformations in Slavery: a history of slavery in Africa (2 edn., 2000)
    • and T. Falola eds.: Pawnship, Slavery & Colonialism in Africa (2003)
  • P. Manning: Slavery and African Life: Occidental, Oriental & African Slave Trades (1990)
  • C. Meillassoux: The Anthropology of Slavery: the womb of iron and gold (1991)
  • J. Thornton: Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World (2 edn., 1998)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules