Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
By Maria Popova
Slavery is one of humanity’s gnarliest, most shameful scars. So uncomfortable is the subject that we rarely glide past the mandatory history class checklists. But understanding the complex mechanisms and historical contexts of slavery is key to grappling with everything from contemporary race dynamics to modern-day slavery like human trafficking and labor exploitation. Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers a fascinating record of the mass abduction and abuse of an estimated 12.5 million Africans traded with just about every country bordering the Atlantic between 1501 and 1867.
The book, authored by leading historians David Eltis and David Richardson, features nearly 200 original maps from Emory University’s Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, an online portal covering a range of unsuspected factors that played a role in the development of the slave trade ranging from the topography of coastal areas to the migration of sugar cultivation.
Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade has been called the Rosetta Stone of slave historiography. But, more than that, it’s a compelling example of something we believe will be of growing importance in the coming years — the cultural value of database-driven storytelling, an increasingly fertile intersection of science and the humanities.
Published December 9, 2010