Concepts of Atlantic History

The study of Atlantic history has been a popular discussion among many historians. The main focus of the study has also been debated by many. David Armitage argues in Three Concepts in Atlantic History that the transitional, international, and regional history are the most important concepts. He mainly focused on the European perspective, stating that the Atlantic was a European invention (Armitage, 12). My classmate Kyle Kelsay explained that this was because, “the product of successful navigation, exploration, settlement, administration, and imagination that led to bigger and better fortunes for Europeans during this time.” Bailyn also agreed that it was through the influence of Europe that really shaped the Atlantic history in the early years. Armitage also noted that the history of slavery and slave trade had “little or no part in this [western civ.] strain of Atlantic history” (Armitage, 14). I strongly disagree with this because the slave trade across the Atlantic was one of the biggest migration of people in history. As Laurent Dubois stated in his article “Atlantic Freedom,” the slave trade brought at least 12 million Africans to the Americas between the 16th and the 19th centuries. If this does not play a “part” in western civilaztion, then I don’t know what does. This reminds me of our lecture in class on November 30th. Professor Shrout asked us to pick out three main concepts/ideas that really define Atlantic history. My first choices were immigration and slave trade. There are a lot of benefits and concepts that came from the Atlantic history. However, I believe that the most important was the influence it had on slave trade. It really changed and shaped the world differently. Slaves became the base of most productions, labor and land/crop cultivations.

Armitage, David. Three Concepts in Atlantic History. New York: Macmillan. 2002.

Bailyn, Bernard. Atlantic History: Concepts and Contours. London: Harvard University Press. 2005.

Dubois, Laurent “Atlantic Freedoms” Aeon. (November 2016). Accessed December 6, 2016.

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