Module 4: Atlantic Slave Trade

Overview: The world between 1600 and 1750 became increasingly entangled after European expansion into the Americas and economic contact in the Indian Ocean and Africa. One of the driving forces behind European expansion was the understanding that the world’s wealth was fixed. This theory-known as mercantilism- is one of the key concepts during this period. In addition, historians study the largest forced human migration in world history: the Atlantic Slave Trade. In a world dominated by the pursuit and transfer of wealth, it is all too easy to get lost in the statistics and lose track of the human element involved in this tremendous case of human mobility. In this module, we will focus on multiple perspectives on the Atlantic Slave Trade and consider the widespread impact of this global process.

Objectives: After completing Module 4, you will be able to:

  1. Identify and explain the typical journey of an African slave.
  2. Identify and explain the characteristics of a plantation complex in the Americas.
  3. Consider African and European perspectives on this forced migration.
  4. Define mercantilism and understand its role in the 18th century global economy.


Section 1: Reading and Historical Thinking

  1. Read Worlds Together, Worlds Apart Chapter 13
  2. Look over this slide on typical slave journey and the plantation complex.
  3. Complete the Module 4 Reading Response Questions on Blackboard.

Section 2: Encounters 

  1. African leaders and societies who encountered European traders adapted in different ways to this contact. Read these essays on Queen Nzinga and Dona Beatriz, both women mentioned in WTWA Chapter 13, to deepen your understanding of these complex relationships.
  2. In 1000 words on Blackboard, describe how ONE of these women reacted to European contact and how she cultivated European ideas or political relationships in ways that were distinct to her local context.

Congratulations! You completed Module 4.

Go to Module 5