About the Project

Routes of Enslavement in the Americas is a research collaboration by Alex Borucki, UCI Professor of History, Gregory O'Malley, UCSC Professor of History, and Sabrina Smith, UCM Assistant Professor of History. The project targets three core research areas: 1) inter-regional movements of African and African-descended captives within colonial Mexico (including California and other parts of what is today the United States and Central America), 2) investigation of the Black Pacific Worlds by tracking coastal trafficking routes connecting ports in California, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile, and 3) further research on Caribbean migrations (coerced and free) of African-descended people, between islands and with the mainland Americas.

The Intra-American Slave Trade Database, created by Alex Borucki and Gregory O’Malley is a vital resource for the study of the African diaspora in the Americas. Launched online in 2018, it documents more than 27,000 voyages that trafficked enslaved Africans and African-descended people from one part of the Americas to another, from 1550 to 1860. This project expands the collaboration for this research initiative to a network of scholars across UC campuses both to enhance the database’s coverage and strengthen research throughout the University of California system on the history and impact of the slave trade and slavery in the Americas, by connecting scholarship on the Atlantic and Pacific Worlds.

Funded by the UC Office of the President Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives (MRPI)

With additional support from the UC Irvine Humanities Center, the UC Merced Department of History, and UC Santa Cruz's The Humanities Institute.

Banner Image: Kathie L. Foley-Meyer, PhD, UCI Visual Studies, https://kf-m.com/

Co-Project Directors

Alex Borucki is professor of history at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of From Shipmates to Soldiers: Emerging Black Identities in the Río de la Plata (2015), co-editor of From the Galleon to the Highlands: Slave Trade Routes in the Spanish Americas (2020), and co-editor of The Rio de la Plata from Colony to Nations: Commerce, Society, and Politics (2021). Apart from other Spanish-language books and articles, he has published on the African Diaspora in the American Historical Review, Hispanic American Historical Review, William and Mary Quarterly, Colonial Latin American Review, The Americas, History in Africa, Itinerario, Atlantic Studies, and Slavery and Abolition. He is currently writing a book, co-authored with José Luis Belmonte Postigo and provisionally entitled “The Slave Trade and Silver in the Refinancing of the Spanish Empire during the Age of Revolutions.” By focusing on coastal merchant elites living in the Americas, this book examines how the availability of silver exports in several regions defined the timing, direction, and size of the slave trade in the Spanish Americas during the Age of Revolutions, when the traffic of captives gained prominence within the overall commerce and the financing of the colonial regime from Cuba to Buenos Aires.

Sabrina Smith is an Assistant Professor of History and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Merced. She specializes in the history of the African Diaspora in Mexico and Central America. She is currently working on her first book manuscript, tentatively titled "Beyond Captivity and Freedom: African-Descended Women in Colonial Oaxaca." She is the author of “Juana Ramírez, Eighteenth-Century Oaxaca, New Spain (Mexico)” in As If She Were Free: A Collective Biography of Women and Emancipation in the Americas (2020) and “Slave Trading in Antequera and Interregional Slave Traffic in New Spain, 1680-1710” in From the Galleons to the Highlands: Slave Trade Routes in the Spanish Americas (2020).