IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ehl/wpaper/22481.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

'Trust in God - but tie your camel first.' The economic organization of the trans-Saharan slave trade between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries

Author

Listed:
  • Prange, Sebastian

Abstract

This paper examines the economic organization of the trans-Saharan slave trade between the fourteenth and the nineteenth centuries on those routes that moved slaves from Sudanic Africa via entrepôts in the Sahel and Sahara to the Maghrib. The commercial framework of this trade was integrated into ethnic, cultural, and religious systems, yet for its efficient operation could not rely solely on these social institutions. The paper considers temporary cooperation of itinerant slave traders and then projects them onto the broader patterns of commercial organization. It is shown that similar pressures resulted in comparable outcomes: partnerships were formed to take advantage of economies of scale in commercial services and to limit cooperation problems. This demonstrates that the organization of the trans-Saharan slave trade was economically rational and can be analysed in terms of cooperative and non-cooperative strategies. Moreover, it is argued that the trade was not restrained by social institutions but versatile in adapting its economic institutions to specific market imperfections. It is concluded that institutional economics and game theory are more useful in explaining the economic behaviour of those involved in the slave trade than standard neoclassical economics.

Suggested Citation

  • Prange, Sebastian, 2005. "'Trust in God - but tie your camel first.' The economic organization of the trans-Saharan slave trade between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries," Economic History Working Papers 22481, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22481
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22481/
    File Function: Open access version.
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N0 - Economic History - - General
    • B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:22481. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (LSERO Manager on behalf of EH Dept.). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/chlseuk.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.