Residing in Brussels from 1755, Friedrich Romberg, a native of Hemer near Iserlohn in Westphalia and a friend of Emperor Joseph II, may be an exceptional figure in the line of German slave traders with his intensive involvement in the French colonial empire of the 1770s/80s. However, he can also be seen as an emblematic exponent of a profitable niche in the overall panorama of the Atlantic slave trade—namely, the connection of the German and even Italian textile industries with the Caribbean plantation economies. By examining the trading circuits within Romberg’s freight forwarding company and his textile trade and production, we can extend and praxeologically nuance the concept of the central European “slavery hinterland.”
In recent years, research on the concept of the European hinterland of the transatlantic slave trade has intensified considerably. We are now much more aware of the general contours of the reciprocal intricacies, interdependencies, and entanglements of most parts of Europe with the colonial world across the Atlantic and the slave trade it entailed. However, we still lack more detailed knowledge of the practices that created, stabilized, and reproduced these connections—or discontinued them. Recent developments in the social sciences have resulted in substantial elaboration of a “theory of practices”, often called “Praxistheorie” in German. By focusing on the microhistorical practices that formed the base of reciprocal connections between the phenomenon of global slavery and central Europe in the eighteenth century, we aim to arrive at insights regarding the structurations of the big picture. We assume that such structurations and their effects amounted in turn to a framework of German entanglements with Atlantic and global slavery during the eighteenth century that shall be illuminated here from different perspectives and in diverse connotations.
This article analyzes context and circumstances of an event described as a “Moors’ lovefeast,” which took place in the Moravian Church settlement of Herrnhaag in December 1742. Several of the “Moors” in attendance hailed from the West Indies, others from North America and Africa. Likewise present were a Malabar, a Tatar, and a German Sinto. Adding to the cosmopolitan luster of the Herrnhaag congregation, their presence broadcasted a powerful message of missionary success and eschatological expectation. Some of these men, women, and children were or had been enslaved, but the prestige bestowed on these so-called “Moors” contributed to masking their enslavement. A close reading of the available sources shows how contemporary practices of enslavement fed into Moravians’ methods of representing missionary success as well as their unique spirituality and eschatological vision.
This article seeks both to model an approach to African and diasporic ethnonyms and to contribute to a long-running debate on the significance of “Mina”/ “Amina,” an ethnonym that was widespread throughout the Americas. In a narrow sense, it argues that the term “Amina,” as used in one key source, C.G.A. Oldendorp’s history of the Moravian missions in the Danish Caribbean, signified the Asante state, specifically, and not the broader pan-Akan identity implied in some sources, nor the narrower “Aquambo” identity that emerges from others. More broadly, it proposes that the proper historical contextualization of ethnonyms is essential to understanding the process of identity formation in the Diaspora.