In Saltwater Slavery, Stephanie Smallwood attempts to reconstruct the Atlantic slave trade from the perspective of Africans. For example, she argues that enslaved people leaving Africa had little idea where they were being taken or what was to be required of them when they arrived. Thus, to talk about the Atlantic slave ship experience as the “middle passage” does not correspond to the lived experiences of slaves themselves. Still, a major challenge Smallwood faced in writing this book was that she was limited by sources. Very few accounts of the slaves themselves exist today. Instead, she had to rely on the accounts of Europeans in order to reconstruct the lived experiences of African slaves.
Considering this, please respond to the following in 500 words:
- What are some examples of how Smallwood demonstrates the African perspective of the Atlantic slave trade?
- Considering the sources available (mostly European) do you think she did a convincing job demonstrating the African perspective?
- Did you like this book? Do you think it is a valuable way to learn about the black experience?