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Brazil and Cuba: two slave societies of the nineteenth century

Class PPT

Seminar questions

  • What was the longer history of slavery and slaving in Brazil and Cuba? How was it different/ similar in each place by the early decades of the nineteenth century?
  • How did slavery intersect with other major political developments - Brazilian independence and statebuilding? new forms of Spanish colonial rule in the nineteenth century and eventual independence movements?
  • What was life like for enslaved people - in cities, in the countryside? Did forms of resistance or negotiation look different or similar?
  • What areas became the centres of enslaved population over the century? When did the Atlantic trade end in each location and what replaced it?
  • From your wider reading, what approaches do you think historians have taken to writing about more than one country? How are you going about this for your essays?

Core reading

FIRST: Please (re-) familiarise yourself with Christopher Schmidt-Nowara, Slavery, Freedom and Abolition in Latin America and the Atlantic World (2011), especially chapter 4.

NEXT: choose EITHER:

Thomas Skidmore, Brazil: Five Centuries of Change, intro and chapter 3Link opens in a new window, "Revolt, Consolidation, and War, 1830-1870"


Knight, Franklin W., Slave Society in Cuba during the Nineteenth Century, chapter 1, "The Transformation of Cuban Agriculture, 1763-1838" and chapter 2, "The Sugar Revolution". (Please note this is an older - though still classic - book, and it may contain outdated racial and other language.)

Further reading

Bergad, Laird W. The Comparative Histories of Slavery in Brazil, Cuba, and the United States. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Josep Fradera, The Imperial Nation: Citizens and Subjects in the British, French, Spanish and American Empires, transl. Ruth Mackay, Princeton University Press, 2018, especially Chapter 6: "Spain and its Colonies: The Survival of the Oldest"  

Marquese, Rafael, and Tâmis Parron. Slavery & Politics: Brazil and Cuba, 1790-1850. Alburquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2016.

Daniel Rood, The Reinvention of Atlantic Slavery: Technology, Labour, Race, and Capitalism in the Greater Caribbean, OUP 2017

Cowling, Camillia Conceiving Freedom: Women of Colour, Gender, and the Abolition of Slavery in Havana and Rio de Janeiro, University of North Carolina Press 2013 (especially the introduction)

Graden, Dale Disease, Resistance and Lies: The Demise of the Transatlantic Slave Trade to Brazil and Cuba. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2014.