MRI Forum 68

"Commercial Networks and Slavery in 16th-Century Macao"

by Lúcio de Sousa and Manuel Perez-Garcia

19 September 2012








Press Play to listen (Full length: 45 minutes)

Summary of the Presentation

The Chinese, Japanese, and Korean slave trade network from Macau to Europe and America in the 16th and 17th centuries is a sensitive topic about which very little is known.

The main objectives of this paper are:

  1. Analyze the three main European mercantile communities involved in human trafficking.
  2. Prove the existence of an important slave distribution centre in Macau, which has been ignored until now.
  3. Clarify the development of slave networks and their expansion through Macau to Europe and America.
  4. Trace the routes and lives of some of these slaves.
As there was a wide variety of slaves of Asian origin, we decided to limit our presentation to Japanese, Chinese, and Korean.

Profiles of the Speakers

Lúcio de Sousa is a Research Associate - University of Evora (Portugal) - NICPRI – Centre of Research in Political Science and International Relations and FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia) Post-Doctoral Fellow. His primary field of research is the slave trade. The aim of his research is to shed light on the purchase and sale of Asian slaves and with all possible accuracy, to reconstruct the economic reality experienced by Europeans in the seas of China, as well as their networks of slaves from 1520 to 1620. He is the author of The Early European Presence in China, Japan, The Philippines and Southeast Asia, (1555-1590) - The Life of Bartolomeu Landeiro, Macao Foundation, Macao, December 2010. Instead of concentrating on the presence of the first Europeans in China placed against the background of the official trade regulated by the Portuguese Crown, his research is focused on the private trade undertaken by many unknown merchants who played a fundamental role in the European economic expansion of the sixteenth century in Asia/Southeast Asia. He is also the editor of The Portuguese and Japan (16th and 17th centuries), University of Tokyo, CEPESA, Lisbon, 2005.


Manuel Perez-Garcia is postdoctoral fellow and assistant chair on trans-national and comparative History at the Department of History, Tsinghua University (Beijing, China). He graduated from the Universidad de Murcia, Spain, in History. He later obtained his doctorate degree on Economic History at the European University Institute (Florence, Italy) and was visiting scholar at UCBerkeley. His primary field of research is the history of consumption and trade relations between Europe and China during the early modern period. He also works on maritime history with a special focus on the Mediterranean and Asian trade networks, and is currently completing a project comparing the city ports of Macau and Marseille. He is the author of the book Armas, limpieza de sangre y linaje. Reproducción social de familias poderosas de Murcia (siglos XVI-XIX), and co-editor of Familia, valores y reprentaciones. His most recent work on changes on patterns of consumption and trade networks in Mediterranean Europe is Consumer Behaviour and International Trade in the Western Mediterranean: South-Eastern Spain in a Trans-National Perspective (1730/1808) (Ashgate, 2012). He has published several articles in outstanding international journals such as Journal of Family History or Histoire, Societe et Economie, among others.