Flash Talks

Event Title

A Continental Approach to the Trans-Atlantic Dye Trade

Date

4-10-2021

Location

Online

Description

The generally accepted Atlantic trade hierarchy of Asian-dominated markets, European facilitators, and indigenous laborers is applicable when deciphering historical trade patterns and social interactions. However, this contrivance is not conducive to displaying these continents’ individual economic, cultural, and social complexity. Indeed, each continent has historically experienced profound achievements outside of the broader system of trans-Atlantic trade, as exemplified through the global production and use of dyestuffs. Using primary and secondary source material, I explore these continents’ sophisticated institutions. In the Americas, dyes and colors played integral roles in political, economic, and religious systems; Africa, known almost exclusively for its slave history, was itself integral to the introduction and persistence of dyestuffs on multiple continents; Europe experienced just as much of a cultural flourish as it did an economic one with the introduction of new dyes and colors from the New World; and in Asia, markets for dyes had existed and prospered long before any international involvement. This paper deviates from historically Eurocentric research by displaying its key contributors as equals rather than in a stratified form. Such is the nature of Atlantic World History: challenging historical assumptions by assessing a broader scope of histories.

Presentation Type

Flash Talk

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A Continental Approach to the Trans-Atlantic Dye Trade

Online

The generally accepted Atlantic trade hierarchy of Asian-dominated markets, European facilitators, and indigenous laborers is applicable when deciphering historical trade patterns and social interactions. However, this contrivance is not conducive to displaying these continents’ individual economic, cultural, and social complexity. Indeed, each continent has historically experienced profound achievements outside of the broader system of trans-Atlantic trade, as exemplified through the global production and use of dyestuffs. Using primary and secondary source material, I explore these continents’ sophisticated institutions. In the Americas, dyes and colors played integral roles in political, economic, and religious systems; Africa, known almost exclusively for its slave history, was itself integral to the introduction and persistence of dyestuffs on multiple continents; Europe experienced just as much of a cultural flourish as it did an economic one with the introduction of new dyes and colors from the New World; and in Asia, markets for dyes had existed and prospered long before any international involvement. This paper deviates from historically Eurocentric research by displaying its key contributors as equals rather than in a stratified form. Such is the nature of Atlantic World History: challenging historical assumptions by assessing a broader scope of histories.