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Commercial Agriculture in Africa as an Alternative to the Slave Trade

23-25 September 2010

Venue: German Historical Institute London
Conveners: Robin Law (Liverpool University/Stirling University), Suzanne Schwarz (Liverpool Hope University), Silke Strickrodt (GHIL)

By the mid nineteenth century the view that ‘legitimate’ commerce, especially the export of agricultural produce, would help to eradicate the Atlantic slave trade and bring mutual benefits to Britain and Africa had become a central tenet of mainstream abolitionist thought. As A. G. Hopkins has suggested, the attempt to establish export agriculture in Africa was part of British efforts to reform the international economic order after 1815 and represented ‘Britain’s first development plan for Africa’. Recent scholarly literature has explored the impact of the development of legitimate forms of trade on African economy and society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Comparatively little attention has been given, however, to earlier attempts to develop commercial crop cultivation and alternative forms of trade with Africa. By focusing on the period from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, this conference will explore the ways in which different interest groups and individuals attempted to exploit the natural resources of Africa through diverse agricultural and trading systems.

Beyond the participants listed on the programme, there is a limited number of places open to academics and postgraduates working in related areas of historical research.

Call for Papers (PDF file)

Conference programme (PDF file)
Conference programme overview (PDF file)