Global Competition in the Local Marketplace: The Impact of Foreign Cotton Cloth Imports on British West African Cotton Textile Industries during the Pre-colonial and Colonial Eras
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Rodney (1972) asserts that emerging African textile industries were destroyed by the influx of foreign (mostly Indian and later British) textiles by the time European nations had colonized the continent in the nineteenth century. Did pre-colonial and colonial Indian and British textile competition universally devastate cotton cloth industries in British West Africa, or did cotton textile industries engage with and react to foreign cotton cloth imports and industrial interference in different ways and with often more positive outcomes than Rodney (1972) suggests? This investigation employs qualitative and quantitative empirical sources, including underexploited nineteenth- and twentieth-century colonial records, to begin to unravel the complex history of British West African textile production following the shock of the slave trade (which led to an influx of Indian textiles in exchange for slaves) and the industrial revolution (which perpetuated a massive influx of British textiles into the region).