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Inhuman Traffick

The International Struggle against the Transatlantic Slave Trade: A Graphic History

Rafe Blaufarb and Illustrated by Liz Clarke

Publication Date - 01 September 2014

ISBN: 9780199334070

240 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock

A story of enslavement and freedom that spans the entire Atlantic world


Inhuman Traffick tells for the first time a story of enslavement and freedom that spans the entire Atlantic world. Beginning in 1829 off the west coast of Africa with the recapture of the slave ship Neirsée--previously seized by the British Navy in its efforts to suppress the "inhuman traffick"--and ending with the liberation of the African passengers who had been sold into slavery in the French Caribbean, Rafe Blaufarb puts a human face on the history of the transatlantic slave trade and the efforts to suppress it. He addresses a neglected aspect of this tragic history in the wide geographical and thematic contexts in which it took place--Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Atlantic Ocean--and situates the story in familial, social, economic, diplomatic, and military spheres. Inhuman Traffick shows how history is done by explaining how the documents on which it is based moved through time and space from the ships, African outposts, colonial buildings, and ministerial offices to the archives of present-day Britain and France.

Blaufarb follows the ship, its crew, and its captives from the slave port of Old Calabar to the Caribbean and into the courts of Britain and France, where the history of the illegal slave trade, slavery in the Caribbean, and diplomatic history all come into focus. Students will be taken in by the vivid drawings and the rich narrative, but in Blaufarb's skilled hands, they will also find themselves immersed in a unique learning experience. Blaufarb not only presents the history of the ship and its captives, he takes the reader inside the project itself. He explains how he came upon the story, how he and his editor envisioned the project, and how he worked with illustrator Liz Clarke to craft more than 300 "cells" that comprise Part II of the book. He and Clarke even take the reader inside archives in France and Britain.

This powerful combination of historical essay, graphics, primary-source documents, and discussion questions gives students insight into the Atlantic World plantation complex, the transatlantic slave trade, and the process of historical storytelling itself.

About the Author(s)

Rafe Blaufarb is Professor of History and the Ben Weider Eminent Scholar at Florida State University.

Liz Clarke is a professional illustrator based in Cape Town, South Africa.


"A must read for all those interested in nineteenth-century Atlantic history."--Ugo Nwojeki, University of California, Berkeley

"Rafe Blaufarb and Liz Clarke have created an innovative and engaging teaching tool for the transatlantic slave trade in the era of suppression. It combines exhaustive research with accessibility, offers a superb overview of the traffic, and provides extensive original documentation of one of the most dramatic and poignant incidents in nineteenth-century maritime history."--David Eltis, Emory University

"Drawing together Kru sailors, Sierra Leonean craftsmen, illegal French slavers, British anti-slavery patrol ships, a corrupt Guadeloupe governor, and British and French politicians, Blaufarb weaves a remarkable tapestry of the historical forces that transformed the slave trade in the nineteenth century. Inhuman Traffick offers a beautifully illustrated panorama of the Atlantic World during the age of emancipation, one that will appeal to students and experts alike."--James Sweet, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"The use of graphic histories in the classroom is becoming widespread, and Inhuman Traffick shows why they can work so effectively to engage students. Like all of the best examples of the genre, Inhuman Traffick tells a compelling story through a complex interplay of image and text--it will keep students reading, and learning, to the very end."--Randy Sparks, Tulane University

"Inhuman Traffick is a tour de force."--Rebecca Hartkopf Schloss, Texas A&M University

"We are treated to the historical equivalent of 3D cinema as Dr. Blaufarb hits us from all angles: a traditional narrative that is concise and accessible; an innovative graphic history that brings the struggle against the slave trade to life; and a selection of primary sources that underscores the painstaking process by which historians explore the past. This is a truly groundbreaking approach to history."--Philippe Girard, McNeese State University

"My students will be delighted to have Inhuman Traffick added to their reading list."--Patrick Rael, Bowdoin College

Table of Contents

    Maps and Figures
    Preface: The Making of Inhuman Traffick
    About the Author and Illustrator

    Part 1: Historical Context

    The Atlantic Environment
    The Slave Trades of Africa
    Who Were the Captives?
    Temporalities of the Trade
    The Middle Passage
    In America
    The Origins of Abolitionism
    Abolition in 1807
    Internationalizing Abolitionism
    The West African Squadron
    Effects of Interdiction
    Beyond the 1817 Treaties
    Results of British Abolitionism
    How the End of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Effected African Society
    Emancipation in America and Africa
    The Neirsée Incident in Atlantic Context
    Cast of Characters

    Part 2: The Graphic History

    Chapter 1: International Efforts Against the Transatlantic Slave Trade
    Chapter 2: The Neirsée Incident
    Chapter 3: Sold into Slavery
    Chapter 4: An International Incident
    Chapter 5: From Happening to History

    Part 3: The Primary Sources

    Documents 1-4: West Africa: Seizure of the Neirsée
    Documents 5-10: Caribbean: Enslaved on Guadeloupe
    Documents 11-20: Caribbean: Colonial Authorities in Action
    Documents 21-37: Europe: A Diplomatic Incident

    Part 4: The Questions

    Time, space, and technology
    Slave Trade Database
    Primary Source Documents
    Making of the Graphic History
    Gaps and Silences

    Timeline of the Atlantic-Slave Trade


Check out a review of Inhuman Traffick on World History Connected here.

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