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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Precolonial African Industry and the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1500-1800
Author:Thornton, JohnISNI
Periodical:African Economic History
Geographic term:Africa
mercantile history
History and Exploration
Economics and Trade
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3601886
Abstract:Writings about African economic history before the early 1970s focused largely on trade and the commercial economy. Since the 1970s, however, the attention shifted to the productive base of African societies. Here, however, Africa was found to be sadly lacking. If commerce was vigorous, it was not because Africa had a strong manufacturing sector, and indeed it was foreign goods which provided much of the stimulus to African economies. For most scholars, Africa's lack of a strong productive base was the direct result of its lack of key technologies. The position of the present author differs in that he does not believe that African productivity was low in the period before 1800. He suggests a reexamination of the entire issue of precolonial African manufacturing and trade, especially African trade with the Atlantic. He also proposes a different approach to African choices of technology that is not limited either by deficiencies in the African environment or technological orientations. Rather, he argues that African production, technology and trade might best be viewed as being strong and productive. A fairly high level of productivity, achieved without the use of many elements of technology found in Europe and Asia, was the basis for Africa's reluctance to accept foreign technologies. Notes, ref. Reactions by R.A. Austen, P. Manning, J.S. Hogendorn and H.A. Gemery, and E.A. McDougall (p. 21-43) with a response by Thornton (p. 45-54).