Barra Postdoctoral Fellow
“The Predatory Sea: Human Trafficking, Colonization, and Trade in the greater Caribbean, 1530-1690”
The Predatory Sea studies the formative role played by captive-taking and smuggling in the development and evolution of Atlantic world slavery during the long seventeenth century. Combining English and French manuscript sources with underutilized testimonies from victims of captivity in the Spanish colonial archives, this book traces networks of raiding and the subsequent trade in captive people in the Greater and Lesser Antilles and mainland North America. Starting in the mid-sixteenth century, northern European merchants and mariners gained access to Spanish America’s closed markets by seizing captives and smuggling them into underserved ports, where residents were desperate for bound labor. By the 1620s, this political economy of raiding and smuggling led to the establishment of English and French colonies in the Lesser Antilles, which created new markets for bound captives and deepened regional, intercolonial trading and raiding networks. The book concludes in the 1690s, when English and French monopoly slave-trading companies transported enslaved Africans to the region in larger numbers, which ended the profitability and need for regional raiding.