Article ID: CBB591435065

Confinement, Environment, and Slave Ships in Early Modern Ocean Voyages (2023)


This article explores how onboard sociocultural practices were shaped by different conceptions of human and external environment on seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century French ships embarking for the Indian Ocean basin or across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. In these environments, in which large numbers of people were confined together, physical conditions shaped the sensory and social dynamics of ocean voyages, while they made ships ambiguous sites for the implementation of spiritual practices. Concepts of society responded to a largely unrecognizable marine environment; shipboard conditions of physical confinement were thought conducive to moral disorder, while ships were conceived of as a source of potentially subversive human energies that had to be channeled. These tensions reached a paroxysm on the slave ships increasingly crossing the Atlantic in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The conditions within early modern ships, this article contends, were exacerbated by multiple external factors, making the ship a uniquely unsustainable environment.

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Authors & Contributors
Behrendt, Stephen D.
Bekasova, Alexandra V.
Breyfogle, Nicholas B.
Hacker, Barton C.
Moon, David
Paton, Diana
Business History Review
Environment and History
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Icon: Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology
Mariner's Mirror
William and Mary Quarterly
Yale University Press
Harvard University Press
Louisiana State University Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Stanford University Press
Slave trade
Business history
Disease and diseases
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
16th century
17th century
20th century, late
21st century
Atlantic Ocean
Great Britain
Indian Ocean
United States
Atlantic world
Great Britain. Royal Navy

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