The early modern era witnessed the emergence of an integrated Atlantic world connecting Europe, Africa and the Americas. In recent years, it has become clear that Dutch activities in the Atlantic were of far greater significance than historians hitherto assumed. The Dutch, however, did not play a role as empire-builders like the English or the French, but as middlemen and brokers. Their forts and factories were important for the circulation of people, goods and ideas in the Atlantic world. In this seminar we will analyze the function of the West African port city of Elmina as a Dutch trading centre in the second half of the 18th century. In Elmina, the Dutch maintained contacts with the Netherlands, African states and plantation colonies in the Americas. The town had a multi-ethnic character and played a crucial role in the transit trade of European, Asiatic, African and Brazilian commodities, as well as in slaves. Research will be done in the archives of the West India Company and the archives of Dutch settlements in West Africa (Nationaal Archief in The Hague).
Students will acquire insights in the organization and functioning of a Dutch trading settlement in West Africa and its role in the Dutch network in the Atlantic world. They will compare the settlement with other port cities at the West African coast. Finally students will improve their ability to conduct research in primary eighteenth century sources, and produce a well structured paper.
Mode of instruction
Presentations and a paper.
R. Law, Ouidah. The Social History of a West African Slaving ‘Port’ 1727-1892 (Ohio University Press 2004), ISBN: 978-0821415726.
E-mail: Prof.dr. H.J. den Heijer