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Trade networks, markets, and financial instruments preexisted European contact on the West African coast for millennia, and knowledge of such phenomena was thus part of what captive Africans brought with them in their forced Atlantic crossings. Nonetheless, European writers dismissed such knowledge in their arguments both justifying enslavement and rendering Africa and Africans as savage and African women and girls, more specifically, as marginal. The records of the slave trade show both the development of the trade as a set of practices and the development of the ideologies that rendered African men, women, and children as commodities. Exploring both of these archival effects, chapter 3, “‘To Their Great Commoditie’: Numeracy and the Production of African Difference,” clarifies the position of African women and girls in African economies and in European imaginaries.

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