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Cash crops and freedom: export agriculture and the decline of slavery in colonial West Africa

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This article argues that the greatest economic and social transformations of the early colonial period in West Africa, the “cash-crop revolution”, and “the slow death of slavery” and debt bondage, had stronger and more varied causal connections than previously realized. The economic circumstances of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century West Africa delayed and diluted abolitionist measures. Indeed, the coercion of labour, through the exercise of property rights in people, contributed to the speed with which the cash-crop economies developed. Conversely, however, the scale and composition of cash-crop expansion did much to determine that the slave trade and pawning would be replaced by a consensual labour market. They also shaped the possibilities for peasant versus larger-scale organization of production, and the distribution of income by gender and between communities.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/30313/

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