We are looking for papers to join a proposed panel for the African Studies Association 2015 Annual Conference in San Diego, November 19-22, 2015. If interested, please send an abstract (200 words) and CV to Vanessa Oliveira ([email protected]) by March 3rd, 2015.


African and Euroafrican women living in port cities of the Atlantic world engaged in businesses individually or as commercial partners of foreign merchants with whom they sometimes had intimate relationships. They acted as cultural and commercial brokers, providing exogenous merchants with access to commercial networks and a household. Additionally, these women acquired wealth and social prestige by purchasing slaves, protecting free dependents and maintaining different kinds of businesses. Along of the western coast of Africa, female entrepreneurs became known as nharas, signares, senoras, and donas reflecting their socio-economic status and affiliation to European culture. Female entrepreneurs are known for having traded alongside men in Senegambia, Saint Louis and Goree, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Mozambique, São Tomé e Príncipe and Angola. The most successful of them owned land, slaves, real state, and ships engaged in local, regional, and sometimes international trade.

This panel focuses on the trajectories of female traders in coastal communities of Atlantic Africa, particularly their roles as traders and intermediaries during the nineteenth century. It will gather together scholars and graduate students who have been working on the connections between women and trade in spaces such as Luanda, Benguela, Gold Coast, and Saint Louis among others. By bringing these papers together this panel hopes to discuss what made these women’s experiences as traders unique. Questions to be addressed include, but are not limited to: through which processes did some African and Eurafrican women engage in trade? What were their particular roles in the local, regional, and international economies? How were they able to accumulate property and pass it on to their offspring in a world dominated by men? How did they fare after the slave export trade was legally abolished along of the nineteenth century? We seek for papers that consider any of these questions or any others related with the participation of women in trade in Atlantic Africa.