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An Atlantic Slave Trade Stretching from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean and Beyond

A Forum on Alejandro García-Montón, Genoese Entrepreneurship and the Asiento Slave Trade, 1650–1700

In: Journal of Early American History
Authors:
David Wheat Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

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Xabier Lamikiz Associate Professor, Department of Public Policy and Economic History, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

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Roberto Zaugg Professor of Early Modern History, Department of History, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

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April Lee Hatfield Department of History, Texas A&M University, Tamu, TX, USA

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Filipa Ribeiro da Silva International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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L.H. Roper State University of New York, New Paltz, NY, USA

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Alejandro García-Montón Department of Economic History, University of Granada, Spain

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Abstract

The study of the trans-Atlantic slave trade is becoming increasingly sophisticated, diverse, and international. Challenging prevailing stereotypes about the dominance of northern European business interests, García Montón’s study shows the persistent vigor of Genoa’s merchant community in this examination of the asiento system that emerged in the mid-seventeenth century and continued into the mid-eighteenth century. Along the way, he also illuminates the slave trade’s connections to many other forms of trade, legitimate and illegitimate, on both sides of the Atlantic. Impressed with his research and approach, these six reviewers discuss its implications for a variety of international contexts, from Central Europe to Italy, Iberia, England, and the Caribbean, including the profitability of the asiento trade and the many different people who participated in and benefitted from it on both sides of the Atlantic. It emerges that the asiento was about much more than just the slave trade. Its profits and trading networks helped integrate the different imperial economies with footholds in the Caribbean. Drawing on the wealth of new scholarship from these different historiographies, they raise some questions about elements that García Montón did not pursue fully in the book. He responds with additional research to address some of those issues, while also calling for more research on the interconnected “asiento worlds” that are one of the most fascinating and unanticipated results of his research.

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