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Slaves here, there and beyond: the internal trafficking of slaves in São Paulo coffee expansion (Areias, Guaratinguetá, Constituição/Piracicaba and Casa Branca, 1861-1887)


In this thesis we study the characteristics of internal slave trade in the Empire of Brazil during the last decades of slavery in the context of the expansion of coffee plantation through the province of São Paulo. Our analysis focuses on four paulista towns (Areias, Guaratinguetá, Constituição (Piracicaba), and Casa Branca) that followed the trajectory of coffee expansion. The first two are situated in Vale do Paraíba, and the others in the path of the so-called "onda verde" (green wave) that brought coffee plantation to the west of the province. The main body of documents basing our study consisted in registers of transactions involving slaves. Those manuscript notarial sources contain valuable information on the commerce of human beings, registering various types of transactions, such as buying, selling, trading, "dação in solutum" etc. On the one hand, we were able to track the changes in slave trade in each of the selected localities along the very distinct settings found in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s. Four periods were selected for a closer analysis: 1861-69, 1870-73, 1874-80 and 1881-87. The factors conditioning such time divisions obviously varied. The economic conditions in the different provinces of the Empire were an important element determining the forces of supply and demand of slaves. Also relevant among other variables were the legislation on slave labor and its underlying sociopolitical context, according to which abolitionism progressed in its milder or more radical forms. On the other hand, comparing the four localities in each of the selected periods and interpreting the similarities and differences among them, we concluded that the different stages of coffee plantation development had a major role in determining the intensity of dynamism in the economy, associated to lesser our greater distances from the "green wave" expansion in paulista territory. Those differences, which were already present in 1861-69, acquired certain nuances along the 1870s but became more dramatic in the 1880s due to an almost complete limitation on slave trade in the province of São Paulo from 1881 onwards. In both analyses (the diachronic as well as the synchronic) we address in greater or lesser depth several themes that we deemed important as bases to our argument, including: the demographic characteristics of the traded slaves, specially gender distribution and age profile; abilities/occupations of slaves; kinship bonds identified among the slaves; economic characteristics of the transactions, such as prices; various types of information on the parts involved in the dealings, which led us inevitably to address, even if only from the perspective of the dealings registered in the documents examined, major interests and family properties that were established and/or enlarged by the coffee economy. (AU)

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