Roots and Branches. Current Directions in Slave Studies by Michael Craton

By Michael Craton

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Vaughan, "Marakur: A Limbic Institution of the Margi (Nigeria)," in Miers and Kopytoff, Slavery in Africa, p. 85. It should be noted, however, that elsewhere Vaughan takes the regional context into account, although he does not develop the point; see "Caste Systems in the Western Sudan," in A. Tuden and L. , Social Stratification in Africa (New York, 1970), pp. 62, 68, 81, 86-87. " Its functionalism is essentially ahistorical. This conceptual framework seems informative in describing the major characteristic of Margi slavery, but it considers the institution out of its historical context.

For Asante and Oyo, the two largest states of the eighteenth century in this region, there was a strong Islamic factor, because of commercial and political 22 connections with the northern Savanna. Both states had a large number of slaves from Muslim areas, and Asante included provinces that had significant numbers of Muslims who owned slaves. In short, interregional connections with the interior balanced the pull of European demand, and the result affected the institution of slavery. In part slavery was related to kinship structures.

Such an approach also creates problems in considering plantation slavery in East Africa during the nineteenth century. If Arab plantations on Pemba and Zanzibar are included, despite the fact that most Arabs were recent immigrants to Africa, then why not include the islands further off shore, where Arabs, Swahili, and Europeans sometimes invested in slaves on the same islands? The isolation of the indigenous factor becomes more of a problem in considering Egyptian expansion up the Nile in the 1820s and the subsequent reaction to this "foreign" domination, and in both phases slavery was an essential ingredient of historical developments.

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