An introduction to the Indian Ocean slave trade

Media Diversified

by Karen Williams 

When many people think of slavery, they think of the translatlantic trade that took place between Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean. The legacy of enslavement in the Americas (particularly in the United States) is known globally through the cultural and political impact of African-American iconography, films, history and references in popular culture. For many people of African descent across the world, it is one of the clearest historical links that binds us together, even if we do not have west African or American ancestry.

But the slave trade across the Atlantic Ocean is not the only history of longstanding mass global enslavement. Less well-known is a system that went on for centuries longer, but which took place across its opposite oceanmass, the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean slave trade encompassed Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with people from these areas involved as both captors…

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