African commercial organization on the Gold Coast in the 17th century

Danford Room 2nd floor Arts Building (R16 on the campus map)
Wednesday 14 November 2018 (16:30-18:30)

Speaker: Robin Law, University of Birmingham and University of Stirling

Part of the Africa Talks Seminar Series Autumn 2018.

Talks are held in the Danford Room, 2nd floor, Arts Building (R16 on the campus map). 
All welcome. 

  • Full seminar programme


This paper will examine the organization of the African side of Afro-European commerce on the Gold Coast in the 17th century, with particular focus on the polity of Fante, mainly on the basis of correspondence of the Royal African Company of England between 1681-99, which has recently been published (1997-2004). This trade involved the export of gold, and in the late 17th century increasingly also of slaves and corn to provision slave-ships. The paper will seek to engage with two distinct historiographical contexts: earlier historical writing on the Gold Coast (beginning with K.Y. Daaku in 1970-1), which emphasised the rise of a ‘new class’ of merchants, distinct from the existing ruling elites; and the global comparative analysis of D. Acemoglu & J.A Robinson (2013), arguing that economic development in pre-colonial Africa was inhibited by the lack of institutions which could guarantee security of property, freedom of enterprise and enforcement of contracts.  

Speaker biography

Robin Law is an Emeritus Professor of African History, University of Stirling, & Honorary Professor, DASA, Birmingham. PhD Birmingham, 1971. Fellow of the British Academy & the Royal Society of Edinburgh. ASAUK Distinguished Africanist award, 2010. Publications include The Oyo Empire, c.1600-c.1836 (1967), The Horse in West African History (1980), The Slave Coast of West Africa 1550-1750 (1991), & Ouidah: The social history of a West African slaving ‘port’, 1727-1892 (2004).