Films and Readings on the African Slave Trade and the Atlantic World

Institution: Grossmont College

Location: El Cajon, CA

Participant: Carlos Contreras

Year: 2016

Short films:

  • Introduction of Slavery in Colonial America
  • The Process of Enslavement
  • The Black Atlantic, 1500–1800


  • “The Paradox of American Development” by Charles Bergquist in Benjamin’s The Atlantic World (p. 153–65)


  1. Read first: “The Paradox of American Development” by Charles Bergquist. Take copious notes on this important article, especially on the various forms of coerced labor (from coerced native labor—native slavery, the encomienda and the mita—to indentured servants, to African enslaved labor) across the Americas and the development of different regions of the Americas.
    Now, take copious notes on these three very important film clips. Then, give thoughtful responses to the following questions for each film (Final exam questions are taken from here). For each question, bring in analysis from our readings, especially from our articles in Benjamin’s The Atlantic World.
  2. Discuss in detail the importance of this short film: Introduction of Slavery in Colonial America
  3. Discuss in detail the importance of this short film: The Process of Enslavement
  4. Discuss in detail the historical significance of all of these items from The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, The Black Atlantic, 1500–1800
    1. Juan Garrido
    2. Esteban
    3. 1619: Describe “how things changed” for Africans with Jamestown and the gradual emergence of slave based plantations
    4. Anthony Johnson and the emergence of “race based” slavery
    5. Describe slavery in the rest of the Americas before Virginia and Tobacco
    6. Sierra Leone and the complexities of Africa, especially along the African coast, in the development of the African slave trade
    7. Discuss the role of coastal African kingdons (the Temne people for example) and the enslavement of other Africans; then commercial exchanges;
    8. Then discuss how Europeans changed the equation as they come to rely on enslaved Africans (“race” as a new marker of “who’s enslaveable”) for their American plantations
    9. Discuss Bunce Island, Sierra Leone, as a slave-trading “factory” (or “feitoria”) and what goes on there
    10. 1756 “Priscilla” and discuss the complexities of the “Middle Passage”
    11. Charleston, South Carolina, and its centrality in the slave trade to the US
    12. Rice and its role in the plantation economy and its consequences for enslaved Africans
    13. Culture and Food
    14. Ideas and St. Augustine, Florida (and Fort Mose)