The West African ethnicity of the enslaved in Jamaica

S.P. Newman, M. Deason, Yannis Pitsiladis, Antonio Salas, V.A. Macaulay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The African ethnicity of New World slaves was highly significant for the transmission of African social, cultural and religious beliefs and practices. This study employs the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis of present-day Jamaicans in order to assess the ethnic origins of their enslaved female ancestors (males, including white overseers and masters, do not contribute to mtDNA). The evidence suggests that the Gold Coast was the largest single source of Jamaican slaves who arrived, remained and survived in Jamaica. While this finding fits with some historical evidence, it refines the data contained within the Voyages: Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, which indicates that the Bight of Biafra provided the most enslaved Africans to Jamaica.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-400
Number of pages25
JournalSlavery & Abolition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013


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