University of Rochester

Book Linking Trade, Africans, British Industrialization Earns Multiple Honors

April 15, 2004

Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England: A Study in International Trade and Economic Development by University of Rochester Professor of History Joseph Inikori has been honored with the American Historical Association’s 2003 Leo Gershoy Award for “the most outstanding work in English on any aspect of the field of 17th and 18th century western European history.”

Inikori’s book is the first detailed study of the critical role of overseas trade in the Industrial Revolution, showing how the Atlantic trade involving Africa, the Americas, and Europe was central to England’s industrialization. The book focuses on the major role of diasporic Africans in the New World, whose slave labor allowed large-scale commodity production that fueled the growth of multilateral Atlantic trade between 1650 and 1850.

Africans and the Industrial Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), is considered a groundbreaking study and has received widespread attention from the academic community for its exploration of the impact of the slave-based Atlantic economy on such areas as shipping, financial institutions, the supply of African-produced raw materials, and the growth of markets for English manufactures.

The book also has won the 2003 African Studies Association Herskovits Prize for the most important scholarly work in African studies. Nuffield College, Oxford University, selected the work for its 2003 annual conference on newly published books in economic history “that are original, important, and have a broad sweep that will appeal to a wide range of social scientists and historians.” In addition, a forthcoming special issue of The International Journal of Maritime History is devoted to a roundtable review of the book by seven scholars and a response from Inikori.

Inikori is an economic historian, with specialization in international trade and economic development. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, where he also held a faculty position. He has had fellowships at the London School of Economics and the University of Birmingham in England and taught at Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, becoming chair of its history department. He joined the University of Rochester’s faculty in 1988.

Inikori’s publications include The Chaining of a Continent: Export Demand for Captives and the History of Africa South of the Sahara, 1450-1870; The Atlantic Slave Trade: Effects on Economies, Societies and Peoples in Africa, the Americas and Europe, with Stanley M. Engerman, the John Munro Professor of Economics at the University of Rochester; Forced Migration: The Impact of the Export Slave Trade on African Societies; and many journal articles.