Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas

Restoring the Links

By Gwendolyn Midlo Hall

248 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 24 illus., 6 figs., 23 tables, 7 maps, appends., notes, bibl., index

Not for Sale in the Caribbean

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5862-2
    Published: August 2007
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-7686-2
    Published: November 2009
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7076-6
    Published: November 2009

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Enslaved peoples were brought to the Americas from many places in Africa, but a large majority came from relatively few ethnic groups. Drawing on a wide range of materials in four languages as well as on her lifetime study of slave groups in the New World, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall explores the persistence of African ethnic identities among the enslaved over four hundred years of the Atlantic slave trade.

Hall traces the linguistic, economic, and cultural ties shared by large numbers of enslaved Africans, showing that despite the fragmentation of the diaspora many ethnic groups retained enough cohesion to communicate and to transmit elements of their shared culture. Hall concludes that recognition of the survival and persistence of African ethnic identities can fundamentally reshape how people think about the emergence of identities among enslaved Africans and their descendants in the Americas, about the ways shared identity gave rise to resistance movements, and about the elements of common African ethnic traditions that influenced regional creole cultures throughout the Americas.

About the Author

Gwendolyn Midlo Hall is senior research fellow at Tulane University, professor emerita of history at Rutgers University, and International Advisory Board Member of the Harriet Tubman Resource Center on the African Diaspora at York University, Toronto. She is author of several books as well as a CD and website database on Afro-Louisiana history and genealogy.
For more information about Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, visit the Author Page.


"This powerful new book is the product of more than twenty years of archival research on several continents and in four languages. It synthesizes the best of the new work and, in a variety of ways, charts directions for future scholarship. . . . Hall's book deserves the widest possible readership."--Journal of American History

"Hall has successfully constructed a comprehensive and detailed consideration of the transatlantic slave trade that succeeds on many fronts and at many levels. . . . This work is an outstanding introduction to both the sources available on the slave trade and the scholarship produced from these sources. . . . The book will appeal to nonspecialists as well as specialists. . . . It is likely to inspire further works in this vein beyond the discipline of history."--Journal of Southern History

"Historians, anthropologists, and other scholars on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean will benefit from this excellent study as we continue to try to understand what W.E.B. Du Bois rightly called 'the most inexcusable and despicable blot on modern human history.'"--African Studies Review

"Important, providing a new template for critics as well as supporters, and opening up a new chapter in what is clearly a changing paradigm."--Journal of the Early Republic

"An elegant and sensible appeal for collaborative scholarship and recognition of diversity and complexity in dealing with culture formation in the Americas."--Hispanic American Historical Review

"In her effort at 'restoring the links,' Hall's study encompasses four centuries of Atlantic slave trading and underscores the historical reality that continuity and change go hand in hand."--Journal of African American History