The essays in this volume make an important contribution to understanding the process through which European empires shifted, as Seymour Drescher's aptly titled contribution puts it, “from empires of slavery to empires of antislavery” (p. 291). They do so by centering on Spain and its Atlantic empire. This focus results in the volume's most significant contribution and resounding statement: that the Spanish empire, far from being “a case apart in the study of slavery and abolition” (p. 1), played an important role in the histories of slavery and antislavery in the Atlantic world.

Chronologically, the essays focus on the nineteenth century, when slavery (and antislavery) gained ground in the Spanish empire. The previous three centuries of Spanish activity in the Americas are collapsed in an essay by Josep Delgado Ribas that presents the evolution of the slave trade to Spanish America, emphasizing...

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