Despite the vast literature on the transatlantic slave trade, the role of sailors aboard slave ships has remained unexplored. This book fills that gap by examining every aspect of their working lives, from their reasons for signing on a slaving vessel, to their experiences in the Caribbean and the American South after their human cargoes had been sold. It explores how they interacted with men and women of African origin at their ports of call, from the Africans they traded with, to the free black seamen who were their crewmates, to the slaves and ex-slaves they mingled with in the port cities of the Americas. Most importantly, it questions their interactions with the captive Africans they were transporting during the dread middle passage, arguing that their work encompassed the commoditisation of these people ready for sale.
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