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1. Title of Project:    Creolization Made in Africa: the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Formation of an Atlantic Community in Benguela, 1780-1850


2. Individual applicant(s) or project directors

            a.Name(s) Mariana Candido

            b.Department(s)            History            

            c.Campus address(es) 403E Wimberly Hall

            d.Campus phone #(s) 5- 8344  

            e.Rank Assistant Professor

            f.Tenure (Circle one) Yes   No

            g.Years of service          First

3.  Synopsis of proposed research - (do not exceed space provided) 

This project analyzes the formation of an Atlantic creole community in Benguela, in Angola. It focuses on the life-experience of 75 Atlantic Creole individuals in Benguela. These 75 cases will help me to uncover the dynamics of the Atlantic Creole society that emerged in Benguela. The slave trade accelerated the amalgamation and negotiation of identities, leading to the emergence of a creole society. The goal of this project is to reconstruct the experiences of these 75 Atlantic creoles, emphasizing their ethnic background and social networks. It also stresses the contribution of women in the formation of the Atlantic community, particularly their role as intermediaries between the Portuguese/Brazilian traders and the local African elites. Access to these materials has already been secured.


4.  Grant period: July 1 2006 through June 30 2007


5.  Total amount requested of the Research & Grants Committee $ 15,350.00


6.  Will this proposal be submitted to another potential funding source?  (If yes, indicate where, when, and amount.) 



7.  Past faculty research funding (list titles of project(s) and funding years)



8. Compliances: Does this proposal require review for:


            Human Subjects Yes ____ No ____  ( Check "Yes" to indicate you understand compliance in attaching IRB review documents,  if grant is funded.)

            a.   Animal Care Yes ____ No ____ (If yes, attach IACUC review documents)

            Hazardous materials or bio-hazards  Yes ____ No ____ (If yes, attach appropriate documentation available in the Office of Environmental Health & Safety.)






            Department Chair(s) or Director(s)





            Dean(s) or Equivalent Officer







Creolization made in Africa: the transatlantic slave trade and formation of an Atlantic community in Benguela, 1750-1850.


Statement of the Problem

This project analyzes the formation of an Atlantic Creole community in Benguela, a port town in the southwest part of Angola. The transatlantic slave trade posed social changes in the African continent that had have been already studied by many scholars.  This analysis of the slave trade reveals that between 1695 and 1860 an estimated 491,442 slaves left Benguela for the  Americas. These figures suggest that only Luanda, Ouidah and Bonny were more important as points of departure for enslaved Africans shipped to the Americas. The overwhelming majority of the people shipped from Benguela came from Benguela's hinterland, which inevitably caused social and political rearrangements within the region.

Furthermore, the transatlantic slave trade reinforced links between local societies and throughout the Atlantic world. The people of Benguela established links with Portuguese traders, and some merchants from Rio de Janeiro and Bahia, two important commercial centers in Brazil, settled in Benguela. The constant migrations and contacts between people of different cultural backgrounds accelerated identity changes, including creolization.

In my research I work with the "Atlantic Creole" model of Ira Berlin. I understand Creole as a complex phenomenon of the Atlantic world that affected all the ports of the African coast, and especially those in west central Africa. Creolization refers to the amalgamation of cultures and the transformation of identities around the Atlantic world during the era of slavery. Creoles adapted the values and institutions of the Atlantic world while remaining anchored in the cultural and demographic realities of West Central Africa. They were fluent in Portuguese, participated actively in trade, and served as intermediaries between Portuguese and African merchants. They probably attended the Catholic Church, dressed in European fashion, and, to varying degrees, displayed affiliation to an Atlantic culture. In this sense, the concept of creolization can also be applied to Benguela.

This project is a natural continuation of my PhD research. It focuses on the life-experience of the Atlantic creoles in Benguela, some of them already identified in my dissertation. At this moment, I am focusing on the case of 75 Atlantic Creoles established in Benguela between 1750 and 1850. Some of these individuals married in other Atlantic ports. They also maintained business links with Portugal, Brazil, and the fortresses located in the interior of Benguela. These individuals were Atlantic Creoles in the sense that they were familiar with different parts of the Atlantic, fluent in more than one of its languages, and comfortable within more than one culture. For some of them creolization took place by birth. For others it was a matter of choice or coercion. While some were born in Creole societies, other creolised themselves in order to survive.

My goal with this project is to spend two months in Angola locating more information about the 75 cases of Atlantic Creoles already identified. If possible, I would like to expand the number of individual cases. It will be particularly important to locate more information about women. In order to do so, I intend to collect parish records that can shed some light on how these Atlantic creoles lived and articulated their trade activities. Using parish records, which provide information about peoples' background, age, and marital status, I can start reconstructing individual cases in order to have a better understanding of this group. Baptism, marriage, and burial records will also provide more information about the social networks of the Atlantic creoles.

My intention is to explore the experiences of the Atlantic creoles in Benguela including the formation of families, establishment of social networks, and agglomerations of identities throughout the period. A research grant will provide me with funds to make a field trip to Angola and conduct my research in the  Arquivo Histórico Nacional de Angola  and the  Arquivo da Diocese , both located in Luanda. It will also offer me the opportunity to collect primary sources to expand the collection at Murphy Library.

As outlined above, my aim is to study the experiences of Atlantic Creoles in an African context, extending Ira Berlin's ideas to Benguela. This study will contribute to a better understanding of the slave trade in Africa, and stress the similarities and differences in human experiences throughout the African diaspora. By probing diverse experiences, my goal is to shed new light on the uniqueness of identity change in a particular geographical region of the African continent. The assumption that African identities were static still persists in the scholarly literature, and until now there is virtually no research on how the transatlantic slave trade affected identity changes in Benguela. In addition, it will allow a comparison between Benguela and other Atlantic ports, such as Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), St. Louis (Senegal), and Lagos (Nigeria). This is a worthwhile and original topic of study, and hence it will make an important contribution to scholarship.



My research will uncover the dynamics of the Atlantic Creole society that emerged in Benguela directly associated with the slave trade. In order to do so, I will focus on their ethnic backgrounds. I am particularly interested in analyzing the places of origin of these individuals to be able to understand how they contributed to the creolization of this Atlantic port.

One of my goals is also to reconstruct the social networks of the Atlantic Creoles, analyzing marriage patterns and their consequent kinship reconstructions. Traders maintained links with other Atlantic ports, especially Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. Brazilian merchants provided the credit for the slave trade, supplying alcohol, textiles, beads and weapons to the traders established in Benguela. Thus, credit moved and linked the commercial elites on both sides of the Atlantic. Through this project I intend to follow the personal links, encased in the economic ones, that unified the Atlantic.

Finally, I plan to expand our understanding of Atlantic creoles in order to included women and their participation in the shaping of this community. I will illustrate how some female traders had a significant advantage over other traders as they maintained personal relationships with traders established elsewhere or Benguela traders with circum-Atlantic connections. My intention is then to analyze the cases of women who participate in the formation of the Atlantic Creole society in Benguela.


Research methods

The goal of this project is to reconstruct the experience of Atlantic Creole individuals in Benguela between 1750 and 1850.  In order to do so, I have to explore quantitative and qualitative data. I have already completed extensive preliminary research, including the collection of annual censuses in the Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino and of wills of Portuguese traders and officials in the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, both in Lisbon, Portugal. I was also able to locate petitions and judicial cases presented by Benguela residents to the Portuguese authorities established in Benguela in the  Arquivo Nacional Histórico de Angola  (AHNA), in Luanda. I intend to deepen my analysis focusing on more judicial cases and parish records available at the AHNA and the Arquivo da Diocese  located in Luanda. This will enrich the analysis providing information about ethnic origins and social networks. Parish records can be used on one hand as quantitative data in a sense that they can be grouped to present patterns and social trends. On the other hand, they are extremely useful in reconstructing historical experiences. In this sense, they become qualitative data, shedding light on peoples' life.

If possible, the parish data will be digitalized to permit the collection of as much data as possible in a short period of time and also to preserve it from damage. Benguela remains an understudied slave port, although it is among the top five most important slave ports in the African continent. Scholars have focused on other regions of the continent due to the difficulties in conducting research there during the last 40 years. The civil war has not only affected the infrastructure of the country but also the production of historical knowledge about Angolan past.

This project is, therefore, an attempt to contribute to the understanding Angolan history by digitalizing historical data, and thus preserving it for future generations. Analyzing the data will inform us about the history of a port town strongly associated with the transatlantic slave trade. Knowing more about Benguela and its past, will allow us to understand better who were the peoples who left this port town during the four centuries of the transatlantic slave trade. Benguelas were one of the most important ethnicities in the African diaspora, and in this way, my research will also contribute to the area of African diaspora studies.


Final product and dissemination

a)                  Returning from Angola, I will submit an archival report to  History in Africa: A Journal of Method , an academic journal focused on historiographical and methodological concerns.

b)                  Portions of this project will be presented in the next African studies association meeting to be held in New York in October, 2007; and at the 2008  European Social Science History Conference to be held in Portugal.

c)                  Following the conferences, I intend to rework my papers and submit them for publication in academic journals.

d)                  This research will also contribute to revising my dissertation, "Enslaving Frontiers: Identity, Trade and Slavery in Benguela, 1780-1850." I plan to expand the original dissertation by including a chapter on the formation of the Atlantic Creole community in Benguela.

e)                  The primary sources digitalized will be deposit at Murphy Library.  

Selected Bibliography:

Allen, Carolyn. "Creole: The Problems of Definition." In  Questioning Creole. Creolisation Discourses in Caribbean Culture, eds. Verene Shepard and Glen L. Richards. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2002.

Amselle, Jean-Loup.  Mestizo Logics. Anthropology of Identity in Africa and Elsewhere. California: Stanford University Press, 1998.

Anderson, Benedict.  Imagined Communities.  London: Verso, 1983.

Benton, Laura. "The Legal Regime of the South Atlantic World, 1400-1750."  Journal of World History  11, no. 1 (2000): 27-56.

Berlin, Ira. "From Creoles to African: Atlantic Creoles and the Origins of African-American Society in Mainland North America." William and Mary Quarterly  3rd series, 53, no. 2 (1996): 251-288.

Berlin, Ira.  Generations of Captivity. A History of African-American Slaves . Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Birmingham, David.  Trade and Conflict in Angola :  The Mbundu and their Neighbours under the Influence of the Portuguese, 1483-1790.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966.

Bolland, O. Nigel. "Creolisation and Creole Societies: A Cultural Nationalist view of Caribbean Social History." In  Creolisation Discourses in Caribbean Culture,  eds. Verene Shepard and Glen L. Richards. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2002.

Bourdieu, Pierre.  Outline of a Theory of Practice.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004 [1977].

Boxer, C. R.  Mary and Misogyny. Women in Iberian Expansion Overseas, 1415-1815. Some Facts, Fancies and Personalities. London: Duckworth, 1975.

Boxer, C. R.  Race Relations in the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1415-1825.  London: Clarendon Press, 1963.

Brathwaite, Kamau.  The Development of Creole Socitety in Jamaica, 1770-1820.  Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971. 

Brooks, George.  Euroafricans in Western Africa. Commerce, Social Status, Gender, and Religious Observance from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century.  Athens: Ohio University Press, 2003

Brooks, George. "The Signares of Saint-Louis and Gorée: Women Entrepreneur in Eighteenth Century Senegal." In Nancy Hafkin and Edna Bay, eds.  Women in Africa. Studies in Social and Economic Change . Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1976.

Cardoso, Carlos Alberto Lopes. "Ana Joaquina dos Santos Silva, Industrial Angolana da segunda metade do Século XIX." Boletim Cultural da Câmara Municipal de Luand a 32 (1972): 5-14.

Coates, Timothy J.  Convicts and Orphans. Forced and State-Sponsored Colonizers in the Portuguese Empire, 1550-1755.  Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001.

Curto, José C. "As if from Free Womb: Baptismal Manumissions in the Conceição Parish, Luanda, 1778-1807."  Portuguese Studies Review  10, no. 1 (2002): 26-57.

Dias, Jill. "Novas Identidades Africanas em Angola no Contexto do Comércio Atlântico." In  Trânsitos Coloniais: Diálogos Críticos Luso-Brasileiros . eds. Cristiana Bastos, Miguel Vale de Almeida e Bela Feldman-Bianco. Lisbon: Imprensa de Ciências Sociais, 2002.

Dugger, Karen. "Social Location and Gender-Role attitudes: a Comparison of Black and White Woman."  Gender and Society 2, no. 4 (1998): 425-448.

Heywood, Linda. ed.  Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Heywood, Linda. "Portuguese into Africa: The eighteenth Century Central African Background to Atlantic Creole Cultures." In Central Africans and Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora , ed. Linda Heywood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Heywood, Linda and John Thornton.  Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles and the Making of the Anglo-Dutch Americas, 1580-1660 . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Jewsiewicki, Bogumil. "Race et Ethnie, Acteurs Politiques Virtuels de cette fin de siècle." In Les convergences culturelles dans les sociétés pluriethniques,  eds. K. Fall, R. Hadj-Moussa, and D. Simeoni. Québec, Les Presses de l'Université du Québec, 1996.

Lovejoy, Paul and David Trotman. "Enslaved Africans and their Expectations of Slave Life in the Americas: Toward a Reconsideration of Models of "Creolisation." In  Questioning Creole. Creolisation Discourses in Caribbean Culture,  eds. Verene Shepard and Glen L. Richards. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2002.

Mark, Peter. 'The Evolution of 'Portuguese' Identity: Luso-Africans on the Upper Guinea Coast from the 16 th  to the Early 19 th Century."  Journal of African History  40, no 2 (1999): 173-191.

Miller, Joseph.  Way of Death :  Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730-1830.  Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

Pantoja, Selma "A Dimensão Atlântica das Quitandeiras." In  Diálogos Oceânicos. Minas Gerais e as Novas Abordagens para uma História do Império Ultramarino Português , ed. Junia F. Furtado. Belo Horizonte: UFMG, 2001.

Stoler, Ann. "Rethinking Colonial Categories: European Communities and the Boundaries of Rule."  Comparative Studies in Society and History  31, no. 1 (1989): 134-161.

Vansina, Jan. "Portuguese vs Kimbundu."  Bulletin Science Academic Outre-Mer  47 (2001): 267-281.