Sample Essay

Smallwood’s repaints the route from Africa to America in a new way from the perspective of the African migrants through a strong argument. She meditates on the processes of commoditization in Atlantic markets as the book is seen by the author herself as a history of economic systems. Her argument is well conveyed in the book as she argues that the Atlantic trade had been different from the 17th century slavery of Africans because it perpetuated the process of slavery and the vicious cycle of injustice by making the human beings commodities through an organized and institutionalized system.

Her emphasis on the importance of the process of commoditization in the slave trade is made evident as she spends four chapters just discussing the process. ‘They choose them as they do horses’ (Smallwood, 2007,158). The readers are detached from the central argument as they go on to read pages and pages about the process of commoditization. She shows how West African slave factories required the slave traders to collect men before going to America’s sea voyage. While she moves from the process of commoditization to the question of having and building separate identity of the Africans in America. She goes on to explore the identity of Akin speaking community while stating that the  assumption about the formation of community on the basis of shared culture traits is open to challenge as one tends to comprehend identity. In the ‘regime of market’ the prominent feature of the Africans was their ‘exchangeability’ and as migrants was ‘isolation’ (Smallwood, 2007,189).

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