In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World

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The transatlantic slave trade forced millions of Africans into bondage. Until the early nineteenth century, African slaves came to the Americas in greater numbers than Europeans. In the Shadow of Slavery provides a startling new assessment of the Atlantic slave trade and upends conventional wisdom by shifting attention from the crops slaves were forced to supply to the foods they planted for their very own nourishment. Many familiar foods—millet, sorghum, coffee, okra, watermelon, and the “Asian” long bean, as an example—are native to Africa, whilst commercial products such as Coca Cola, Worcestershire Sauce, and Palmolive Soap depend on African plants that were dropped at the Americas on slave ships as provisions, medicines, cordage, and bedding. On this exciting, original, and groundbreaking book, Judith A. Carney and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff draw on archaeological records, oral histories, and the accounts of slave ship captains to turn how slaves’ food plots—“botanical gardens of the dispossessed”—turned into the incubators of African survival within the Americas and Africanized the foodways of plantation societies.


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