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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography$
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Robin Winks

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205661.001.0001

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Slavery, The Slave Trade, and Abolition

Slavery, The Slave Trade, and Abolition

(p.315) 20 Slavery, The Slave Trade, and Abolition
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography

Gad Heuman

Oxford University Press

The historiography of slavery has undergone a fundamental transformation, particularly since the 1960s. There has been an explosion of literature on slavery in the British Empire. There has also been a significant shift in studies of the slave trade. Earlier work tended to focus on the undoubted horrors of the trade but provided little analytical framework for understanding it. Other accounts of the trade stigmatized the Europeans as exploiters and regarded Africa as the victim of European greed. There has also been a debate about the effects of the slave trade on Africa. Slaves resisted their own enslavement by running away, generally for short periods of time but sometimes permanently. Until the 1940s, there was a general consensus among historians about the abolition of slavery in the Empire. As historians develop new techniques to explore the past and ask new questions of old material, they will continue to refine their knowledge of these often-contentious areas. In the process, it seems likely that the historiography of slavery and abolition will remain as vibrant in the future as it has in the past.

Keywords:   slavery, slave trade, abolition, British Empire, historiography, Africa, Europeans

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