Facilitating Early Modern Globality: Uncovering the Role and Status of the Remadores on the Gold Coast


  • Vita Unwin Universiteit Leiden




This article uncovers the crucial role played by the remadores, or canoemen, of the Gold Coast in the making of global trading networks which converged and steadily expanded on the West African coast in the early modern era. Their inimitable skill and the footloose nature of their daily work afforded them a unique status as African workers, and special bargaining power with the various European and African polities which competed for influence in the region. Remadores were logistical agents in the making of local, inter-polity and global trade networks, and this paper examines their role on a local, regional and global scale in turn. As this research demonstrates, their navigational skill was a lynchpin, without which in the burgeoning trade of ivory, gold and slaves would have been completely undermined.

Author Biography

Vita Unwin, Universiteit Leiden

Vita Unwin completed her M.A. at Universiteit Leiden in 2017, and was awarded a First Class honours from the University of Bristol in 2016. Her primary research focus is on West African port cities, and she admires in particular the work of historian Holger Weiss. She is hoping to commence a Ph.D. in 2018, having taken a year out to work for a coffee trading platform—enabling her to visit some of the West African regions which captivate her.