By the early 18th century, the Eurasian Power Bloc became increasingly marginal to the new maritime port economy that was set up and controlled by Western European colonial powers. This maritime colonial project was a global phenomenon intrinsically linked with the institutionalization of race-based slavery. At the foundation of this global system were sites of fortified enclosure and of labor. Both the fort and the plantation greatly transformed the social, cultural, and environmental landscapes of the world. In the case of enslaved African labor, infrastructure in West Africa was dramatically changed to facilitate the capture, confinement, and transport of enslaved Africans to other parts of the world. In the colonies, local and enslaved labor was exploited for tobacco, coffee, sugar, tea, and other lucrative and highly desirable products. This massive influx of colonial wealth and colonial goods radically remade urban culture, and the best example of this may be seen in the emergence of the chic coffeehouse. This lecture discusses the context of colonialism and the emergence of sites of exploitation and of entertainment that define the colonial project.
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