The University of Wisconsin Press

African Studies / History / Economics / Environment


From Slaving to Neoslavery
The Bight of Biafra and Fernando Po in the Era of Abolition, 1827–1930
Ibrahim K. Sundiata

"From Slaving to Neoslavery is a first. No other books exist on Fernando Po in English. The work is original and the scholarship impressive. It will be a must in studies about late slavery, contract labor, and Creoledom. It is a well-researched history of another big plantation island, and its ties with the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, are well handled."—Jan M. Vansina, University of Wisconsin

Fernando Po, home to the Bantu-speaking Bubi people, has an unusually complex history. Long touted as the "key" to West Africa, it is the largest West African island and the last to enter the world economy. Confronted by both African resistance and ecological barriers, early British and Spanish imperialism foundered there. Not until the late nineteenth century did foreign settlement take hold, abetted by a class of westernized black planters. It was only then that Fernando Po developed a plantation economy dependent on migrant labor, working under conditions similar to slavery.

In From Slaving to Neoslavery, Ibrahim K. Sundiata offers a comprehensive history of Fernando Po, explains the continuities between slavery and free contract labor, and challenges standard notions of labor development and progress in various colonial contexts. Sundiata's work is interdisciplinary, considering the influences of the environment, disease, slavery, abolition, and indigenous state formation in determining the interaction of African peoples with colonialism.

From Slaving to Neoslavery has manifold implications. Historians usually depict the nineteenth century as the period in which free labor triumphed over slavery, but Sundiata challenges this notion. By examining the history of Fernando Po, he illuminates the larger debate about slavery current among scholars of Africa.

Ibrahim K. Sundiata is professor and chair of the African and Afro-American Studies Department at Brandeis University. His books include Black Scandal: The United States and the Liberian Labor Crisis, 1929-36, and Equatorial Guinea: Colonialism, State Terror, and the Search for Stability.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

Sundiata's book is orange

June 1995
LC: 94-039082 DT
256 p
p.   6 x 9
5 maps, 1 figure
ISBN-10: 0-299-14510-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-299-14510-1
Cloth $49.95 s

Add this book to cart
Review cart contents
Secure checkout

Add titles to your shopping cart by clicking on the "Add this book to cart" link above. You can submit your order electronically, paying for it with your credit card.
Click here for a further explanation of the shopping cart feature

Never ordered from us before?
Read this first.

Home | Books | Journals | Events | Textbooks | Authors | Related | Search | Order | Contact

If you have trouble accessing any page in this web site, contact our Web manager.

Updated June 18, 2009

© 2009, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System