Notes: The Slave Ship: A Human History, Marcus Rediker

The author identifies four “dramas” played out repeatedly over the course of the 18th century aboard slavers…the first between the captains and the tough-scoundrel crew; the second, between the crew and the enslaved; the third, from conflict and cooperation among the diverse ethnic groups of the enslaved; and the fourth, among the abolitionists and the societies of America and Britain. 

His intent is to concentrate on the slave ships as the stage for all these dramas that drove commerce…he looks upon the slave ship as the key that drove Europe’s commercial revolution and economic globalization.  He claims (I’m still in the intro) that his research focuses on the actual deck of the slave ship. 

I can’t recall the title but I wrote about it here…a piece of fiction that opens with an enslaved African woman attacking the captain of the ship to defend herself against what she perceived as a beast…and I remember asking myself if I’ve ever been taken aboard the slave ship from a female view point?  I read Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage some years ago and alsmost suffocated by the voyage he took me on but it was a masculine experience…altough at the time of reading it I was too involved and overwhelmed by being transported into the experience that gender was of little relevance.

Ottobah Cugoano wrote Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery, originally published in London, 1787; reprinted by Penguin in 1999.  Cugoana was an African who went through the Middle Passage and wrote about it later.  I’ve not heard of him and would like to check his life and writing out later.


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Filed under history, The Middle Passage

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