Universität Bonn

Abteilung für Asiatische und Islamische Kunstgeschichte

05. April 2023

Lecture: Slavery in Northern Mozambique, trade dynamics and past interactions in India Ocean: Ilha de Moçambique, 900 AD to 1800 Lecture: Slavery in Northern Mozambique, trade dynamics and past interactions in India Ocean: Ilha de Moçambique

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture Series

Mozambique’s coast is marked by different cultural horizons that span from hunter-gatherers to the establishment of Bantu farmers and later proceeded by Swahili trade settlements that were interconnected within the Indian Ocean Trade Network. Archaeological excavations and historical research at Ilha de Moçambique and Cabaceira Pequena (Nampula Province), have yielded Lumbo and Sancul style ceramics and other features related to local dynamics in the past but also imported prestige items from different areas of the Indian Ocean. Portuguese shipwrecks identified at Ilha de Moçambique, alongside historical and archaeological evidence, highlight the importance of the ivory and slave trade in the East African economy from the XVI century onwards. On the other hand, trade activities within northern Mozambique also included small-scale slave trading locally and outside present-day Mozambique prior to Portuguese colonisation in the XVI century when commercial activities were dominated by Swahili and Arab traders. Both Swahili and Arab merchants likely sent slaves to the Middle East, Persian Gulf and India according to historical sources from the time. Specific sources about the destination and numbers of slaves that came from Mozambique are still problematic. Moreover, with the arrival of the Portuguese in East Africa, especially in Mozambique the activity became profitable, laying the foundation for the colonial exploitation and economic development of this southern European country.

New perspectives from archaeological (terrestrial and maritime), historical and anthropological research are bringing to light a complex body of knowledge about slavery in this section of southern East Africa, which has been based chiefly on Portuguese sources (customs, colonial administration archives, etc.). This exclusion of indigenous and Swahili sources has left gaps relevant to the understanding of this process. It is then critical to look at different sources to better comprehend the complex past slave trade activities and their impacts on Mozambique. Décio

Muianga Décio Muianga is a Ph.D. student at Uppsala University (Sweden). He earned his bachelor's and Master's Degrees at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) in archaeology and heritage studies. He has worked since 2008 as an assistant lecturer of archaeology in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University Eduardo Mondlane (Maputo, Mozambique) where also he is the Head of the Archaeology Unity. Additionally, since 2012 working as a researcher at Kaleidoscopio (Public Policy and Culture) an independent institute based in Maputo.

Diogo Oliveira Currently a PhD student in anthropology at the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia, USA). He received his BA and MA in anthropology at George Washington University (Washington DC, USA). His dissertation research explores the Swahili coast and Mozambican archaeology, specifically interested in the intersection of the Swahili Coast, Indian Ocean, and Portuguese worlds. From 2018-19, Diogo was a Fulbright Student Scholar in Mozambique and conducted a small excavation of a later Iron Age – Early Colonial site on the Nampula Coast. He has also participated in fieldwork and artefact analysis in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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