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Europe in the African Mirror: The Slave Trade and the Rise of Feudalism

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  • Stefano Fenoaltea

Abstract

Non sono ovvie le ragioni della massiccia tratta degli schiavi dall'Africa nera: considerate la produttività e la sfruttabilità relativa del lavoro in Africa e a destinazione, e le forti perdite nella cattura e nel trasporto degli schiavi, sarebbe stato più conveniente sfruttare il lavoro in Africa che non esportarlo, e sfruttarlo con tributi piuttosto che catturarlo. Questo articolo presenta un modello degli scambi interlocali che tiene conto non solo dei vantaggi comparati ma anche dei costi di trasporto, e dimostra come può essere conveniente saldare un deficit nel commercio di beni mobili esportando schiavi, anche se localmente cari, piuttosto che beni relativamente immobili. Il modello spiega dunque la tratta degli schiavi come un equilibrio paretiano malgrado la scarsità del lavoro nella stessa Africa, e più generalmente, pertanto, la non-congruenza dei grandi flussi di emigranti liberi e non liberi; e spiega la frantumazione politica e le razzie come conseguenza, e non causa, di questo equilibrio. Questo modello sembra pure compatibile con i flussi di schiavi europei, dalla preistoria al medioevo; e non solo. Offre pure una spiegazione della disintegrazione dei regni barbari superiore a quelle attualmente disponibili: nell'alto medioevo infatti l'Occidente manifestava tutte le cause e le conseguenze (commerciali, monetarie, militari, istituzionali) del reclutamento interno di schiavi da esportare.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano Fenoaltea, 1999. "Europe in the African Mirror: The Slave Trade and the Rise of Feudalism," Rivista di storia economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 123-166.
  • Handle: RePEc:mul:jrkmxm:doi:10.1410/9876:y:1999:i:2:p:123-166
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    1. repec:eee:exehis:v:67:y:2018:i:c:p:80-104 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Broadberry, Stephen & Gardner, Leigh, 2016. "Economic Development In Africa And Europe: Reciprocal Comparisons," Revista de Historia Económica, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(01), pages 11-37, March.
    3. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata, 2015. "Climate and the slave trade," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 19-32.
    4. Whatley, Warren C., 2018. "The gun-slave hypothesis and the 18th century British slave trade," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 80-104.
    5. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata, 2012. "Climate, ecosystem resilience and the slave trade," MPRA Paper 38398, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Gareth Austin, 2008. "The 'reversal of fortune' thesis and the compression of history: Perspectives from African and comparative economic history," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(8), pages 996-1027.
    7. Gareth Austin, 2008. "Resources, techniques, and strategies south of the Sahara: revising the factor endowments perspective on African economic development, 1500-2000 -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 61(3), pages 587-624, August.

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