Ana Lucia Araujo. Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade: A Transnational and Comparative History. London: Bloomsbury Academic. 2017.
Reparations for Slavery and the Slave Trade is a timely contribution to the conversation around the call for reparatory Justice for Africans that has been evolving across centuries. In this five-chapter, 276-page monograph we are taken from the moment of inception of the transatlantic trade in Africans to the present where descendants of the enslaved are still variously seeking to gain catharsis, restitution, and symbolic and material/financial reparations.
Araujo's book is structured into three main sections: pre-emancipation, post emancipation and the contemporary conversations surrounding reparations. Being a transnational and comparative history it draws its cases and narratives fluidly from across the Atlantic world, crystallising a story about Western European mercantile expansion into the Americas and beyond. It centers its scrutiny on the societies constructed by the various lead nations in these western colonial exploits in search of wealth and political power, and their relationship to the overtures of their enslaved populations to seek redress for period of bondage and servitude.
Wittingly or otherwise we are given a view of the various nationalities that figured as key colonials (Portuguese, Spanish, British, Dutch), with Araujo's chief examples drawn from Brazil, Cuba, the United States of America, and to a lesser extent, the British Caribbean. We are also given an ample view of the societies of Europe specifically Lisbon and West Africa, and especially the Kingdom of Dahomey. In this way the author is able to reveal the comprehensive net thrown by the European maritime powers, enveloping a world in which the African body was a key commodity and currency of global trade.
Thus Araujo provides a context to situate the placement of Africans in the trade in Africans by unpacking the system of African agents, including rulers and middle men as well as slaveholding elites, and slave merchants in Europe, Africa and the Americas. This template arrived in the 16th century when Portuguese traders established links with rulers supplying goods such as weapons, alcohol, tobacco, textiles and services such as conversion to Christianity. She suggests that...