Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Smoot, Pamela


African children in the Atlantic slave trade shared the same desire for freedom as their adult counterparts. They demonstrated agency by using their non-threatening appearance, curiosity, and adaptability to escape captivity or alleviate their predicaments. Previous studies on African children in the slave trade are centered on the circumstances that African children were subjected to rather than the actions they took to navigate those spaces. These works primarily relied on European sources to understand the experience of the enslaved youth in the eighteenth century. I use a combination of slave narratives, slave ship records, and Pierre Bourdieu’s habitus theory to understand the enslaved youth's adaptability, intentions, and actions. This study highlights African children's agency and historical contributions in the eighteenth century by studying how they responded to their captivity in the Atlantic slave trade.




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