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Africa and the Price Revolution: Currency Imports and Socioeconomic Change in West and West-Central Africa During the 17th Century

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
Issue number1
Early online date12 Feb 2016
Accepted/In press12 Feb 2016
E-pub ahead of print12 Feb 2016
Published31 Mar 2016


King's Authors


The past decade has seen much ink spilled on global interconnections in the early modern economy, especially those linking European and Asian economies. But this Eurasian concentration has excluded Africa from the discussion. This article addresses this absence by showing that West and West-Central Africa were integral to the global price revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Considering evidence from West and West-Central Africa reveals how the price revolution was a genuinely global phenomenon, with increasing imports of locally-used currencies that created inflation in line with the inflation of gold and silver in Europe and Asia. The article argues that the coexistence of exchangeable value and other social uses of currencies also contributed to a relative depreciation in Africa's global economic strength. Also related to this phenomenon were the rise of an export slave trade and changes in the production and distribution of West and West-Central African cloth industries.

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