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Understanding African women’s access to landed property in nineteenth-century Benguela,


Year published: 2020
Categories: Journal Article

Author / Authors:

  • Mariana P. Candido


Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue canadienne des études africaines, DOI: 10.1080/00083968.2020.1749095


This study examines the mechanisms that African women employed to accumulate wealth and property during the nineteenth century. After the ban on slave exports in 1836, West Central Africans looked for new economic activities and shifted their focus and energy to the trade in commodities as legitimate commerce expanded in Benguela. In the process, African women achieved new social and economic positions in the colonial setting, accumulating dependents and goods. The concentration of dependents, including enslaved ones, clustered wealth in fewer hands and altered notions of land access and rights. Primary sources reveal consumption patterns that suggest that property was accumulated in different ways, and that such accumulation spread far into the interior. This article emphasizes African women’s role as active agents of change on the coast and in the interior of Benguela during this time of economic transformation, making extensive use of kinship, affinity and economic networks that already existed.


  • Journal Article