Centralized And Decentralized Societies During The Slave Trade Essay

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Throughout history, a motif of stronger, more aggressive, better resourced societies preying on weaker individuals for land, labor, and goods can be seen. The Atlantic Slave Trade effected West Africa by transforming the construction and formation of states. Ranging from powerful, militarized, and centralized states like Dahomey and Kongo, to more decentralized groups like Balanta and Igbo. Many scholars argue that the centralized societies targeted these decentralized societies and kidnapped people for the slave trade or for their own lineages, but this issue of strong and organized preying on weak and scattered is not as “black or white” as it may seem.
This paper will discuss how the centralized and decentralized societies interacted during the slave trade and how the trade effected them. It will also discuss how and why some of the decentralized societies were predatory towards similarly situated groups by looking at examples in multiple decentralized societies, including the Balanta and the Igbo. Though each side of the debate gives convincing evidence and arguments, the Atlantic Slave Trade was not just centralized societies preying on decentralized societies and the decentralized societies were not completely victims. They used different mechanisms to defend themselves, including building walls, fighting back, and moving to isolated areas.
Martin Klein proposed a theory about the relationship between centralized and decentralized societies called the “predatory state
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