‘Atlantic History’ is both the study of a specific region and an historiographical approach. The origins and significance of each must be understood in order to properly comprehend the lives of the people in the Atlantic past. Atlantic history has been a popular topic among historians in the last 30 years, as shown by the word ‘Atlantic’ appearing in the title of many academic monographs. However, the topic is only now making a significant impact in undergraduate and postgraduate courses, hence the need for a textbook on the subject firmly aimed at students. Atlantic history concerns the Atlantic-facing coasts of the continents of North and South America, Europe and Africa and the Caribbean Islands from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. These regional definitions and their proximity to the Atlantic are not intended to be limiting. For example, the Scandinavian and Nordic countries and Italy played important parts in the story of the Atlantic world empires without bounding the ocean itself. Broadening the definition further, we might include a Pacific-facing nation like Peru that played a key story in the development of Spain’s New World empire, or Indian Ocean-facing regions of Africa such as Ethiopia and Mozambique that, during the sixteenth century, were involved in the Portuguese slave trading system. While coastal areas come to the fore in the stories of contact, trade and transmission of people and ideas, Atlantic historians do not neglect the interior regions of each part of the Atlantic world.
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- Introduction: Studying Atlantic History
Laura M. Chmielewski
- Macmillan Education UK
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