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Short Synopsis
In Slavery at Sea: Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage, historian Sowande' Mustakeem reveals the forgotten world of 18th century slave ships.

Full Synopsis
Most times left solely within the confine of plantation narratives, slavery was far from a land-based phenomenon. This book reveals for the first time how it took critical shape at sea. Expanding the gaze even more widely, the book centers on how the oceanic transport of human cargoes—known as the infamous Middle Passage—comprised a violently regulated process foundational to the institution of bondage.

Sowande' Mustakeem's groundbreaking study goes inside the Atlantic slave trade to explore the social conditions and human costs embedded in the world of maritime slavery. Mining ship logs, records, and personal documents, Mustakeem teases out the social histories produced between those on traveling ships: slaves, captains, sailors, and surgeons. As she shows, crewmen manufactured captives through enforced dependency, relentless cycles of physical, psychological terror, and pain that led to the making—and unmaking—of enslaved Africans held and transported onboard slave ships. Mustakeem relates how this process, and related power struggles, played out not just for adult men, but also for women, children, teens, infants, nursing mothers, the elderly, diseased, ailing, and dying.

Slavery at Sea

Terror, Sex, and Sickness in the Middle Passage

Author Sowande’ M Mustakeem

Narrated by Mia Ellis

Publication date Apr 13, 2021

Running time 11 hrs 7 min

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