series event

African women in the colonial archive: historicising population changes in Angola

‘Population Change in Africa: Interdisciplinary Conversations’, a webinar series organised by the African Population History Network (APHiN) and hosted by the LSHTM Population Studies Group and the LSHTM Centre for History in Public Health  

This webinar series is organised by the APHiN in bringing together demographers, historians, anthropologists and archaeologists to discuss and discover critical and historical perspectives on population change in Africa. 

In recent decades there has been an expansion on the scholarship about women, inequality, and population change in Africa. However, most studies focus on the 20th century, even though there are rich documents for the pre-1900 period in different parts of the continent.

In this presentation, Dr Candido will reflect on the primary sources available for the Angolan past. She will discuss their strengths and weakness of the demographic data for two locations: Benguela and Caconda. She will centre her analysis in population counts, ecclesiastical data, and land registers, stressing their value for the understanding of African women’s economic roles in 1780-1880s.

She will cross the quantitative approach with case studies to problematise population changes and classifications. The 1780s-1880s saw the height of the trade in human beings from Angolan ports, while the external trade had to adjust to the abolitionist pressures. The expansion of cash crop economies along the Angolan coast led to an increasing demand for enslaved labor locally. All these economic changes led to quantification efforts, resulting in rich primary sources to historicise population changes. In the process, African women were carefully identified and enumerate, revealing their networks, their economic activities, and offering clues about their personal lives.


Mariana Candido (Ph.D. York University, Canada; M.A. El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico; B.A. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) is an associate professor of history at Emory University, Atlanta. Candido’s research focuses on the history of West Central Africa, migration, identity formation, slavery, and gender from the sixteenth to the late nineteenth century. Her publications include Fronteras de Esclavización: Esclavitud, Comercio e Identidad en Benguela, 1780-1850 (Mexico: Colegio de Mexico Press, 2011); and An African Slaving Port and the Atlantic World. Benguela and its Hinterland (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), which was one of the finalists for the Melville J. Herskovits Award for Best Book in African Studies. Her book, Wealth, Land, and Property in Angola: A History of Dispossession, Slavery, and Inequility, will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2022. She has also co-edited African Women in the Atlantic World. Property, Vulnerability and Mobility, 1660-1880 (James Currey, 2019), with Adam Jones, recognised as one of the “Best African focused edited collections” published in 2019. Candido has also co-edited Laços Atlânticos: África e africanos durante a era do comércio transatlântico de escravos, with Carlos Liberato, Paul Lovejoy, and Renee Souloudre-La France (Luanda: Museu Nacional da Escravatura/ Ministério da Cultura, 2017; and Crossing Memories: Slavery and African Diaspora, with Ana Lucia Araujo and Paul Lovejoy (Africa World Press, 2011).

Her articles have been published in History in Africa, Slavery and Abolition, Canadian Journal of African Studies, International Review of Social History, Social Sciences and Missions, African Economic History, Portuguese Studies Review, Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Luso-Brazilian Review, Afro-Ásia, Cahiers des Anneux de la Mémoire, Tempo, and Brésil (s). Sciences Humaines et Sociales, among others. In 2015, with Eugenia Rodrigues (Universidade de Lisboa), she organised a special issue of African Economic History on African’s women access and rights to property in the Portuguese empire. In 2018, they co-organised a special issue on color classifications in the Iberian Empires, 16-19th centuries, published in Estudos Ibero-Americanos.

Candido is one of the editors of African Economic History, a board member of History in Africa and one of the editors of Encyclopedia of Slavery, Slave Trade, and the Diaspora in African History (Oxford University Press).


Please note that this session will not be recorded


Follow webinar link. Free and open to all. No registration required.