Apply now for our MA programs!
New Euthenia Fellowship
Diversity in German academia
Join us for our panel discussion!
Wissenschaftsrallye 2023
Apply now for our MA programs!
New Euthenia Fellowship
Diversity in German academia
Wissenschaftsrallye 2023

Welcome to the Cluster of Excellence at the 
Bonn Center for Dependency & Slavery Studies 

"Beyond Slavery and Freedom:
Asymmetrical Dependencies in Pre-Modern Societies"

We are a research cluster within the framework of the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments.

We investigate profound social dependencies such as slavery, serfdom, debt bondage, and other forms of permanent dependency across epochs, regions and cultures. 

Our focus lies "beyond slavery and freedom", i.e. we aim to overcome the binary opposition of "free" and "unfree".

Instead, we propose the new key concept of "asymmetrical dependency" to explore all forms of bondages across time and space. 

BCDSS Library of Ancient Slavery

Launch of the BCDSS Library of Ancient Slavery
Get an insight of the launch of BCDSS' Library of Ancient Slavery.

Reading & Discussion with Natassa Sideri

Debt Bondage
Watch what playwright Natassa Sideri thinks about our reading and discussion evening on her play "Gefesselt" 

Exhibition opening

Women's emanciption and Jewish assimilation
"All they wanted was to study..." exhibition opening at Frauenmuseum Bonn

Congratulations to Prof. Dr. Michael Zeuske

Congratulations to Prof. Dr. Michael Max Paul Zeuske, who was elected Corresponding Member of the Academia Nacional de la Historia of Venezuela in April 2023. He was honored for his merits in the field of Latin American history and particularly in the field of Venezuelan history.

One released, one forthcoming: Volumes 7 & 8 of the BCDSS book series "Dependency and Slavery Studies"

We are pleased to announce two new additions to our book series. 


Volume 7: Current Trends in Slavery Studies in Brazil

This volume, edited by Prof. Dr. Stephan Conermann, Mariana Armond Dias Paes, Roberto Hofmeister Pich, and Paulo Cruz Terra, provides valuable insights into current trends in Brazilian slavery studies. In their articles, the authors demonstrate that the Atlantic slave trade to Brazil was unparalleled in the Americas, with over 4 million slaves brought from Africa to Brazil between 1530 and 1888, comprising 40% of all Africans transported to the continent. This massive influx has resulted in Brazil having a larger African-descended population than many African countries. Consequently, Slavery Studies have become a prominent field in Brazilian historiography, exploring topics such as slave agency, the legal and economic aspects of slavery, family dynamics, demographics, the transatlantic slave trade, abolition, and more. Recent research has expanded to cover illegal enslavement, global perspectives, gender, diverse social groups' involvement in the abolitionist movement, and Atlantic connections.

Download Volume 7 via Open Access


Volume 8 (forthcoming, expected July 2023): Naming, Defining, Phrasing Strong Asymmetrical Dependencies: A Textual Approach

Edited by Jeannine Bischoff, Prof. Dr. Stephan Conermann and Porf. Dr. Marion Gymnich, this volume explores the terminology used in historical contexts to describe individuals in positions of strong asymmetrical dependency, shedding light on social interactions. It analyzes narratives that either justify or challenge dependency and uncovers its presence in historical discourses. With contributions from various disciplines, including theology, global history, and legal history, the authors examine diverse textual sources and historical contexts – from medieval Scandinavia to contemporary human rights violations. In doing so, the articles of this volume contribute to Dependency Studies as a transdisciplinary approach to a deeper understanding of societies throughout history.

Announcement of Volume 8 on the homepage of De Gruyter

Now released: Volumes 5 & 6 of the BCDSS book series "Dependency and Slavery Studies"

We are pleased to announce the publication of two more volumes in our book series.


Volume 5: Embodied Dependencies and Freedoms: Artistic Communities and Patronage in Asia

This volume, edited by Prof. Dr. Julia A. B. Hegewald, discusses the interconnectivity of dependencies and creativity in the field of Asian art and architecture, challenging the idea that the arts are completely free from reliance. The 13 chapters written by experts in the field illustrate how material artefacts and structures are dependent on factors such as climate, resources, social and religious traditions, and donors, with gender and labor also playing a role. Despite these dependencies, artists have been able to express their own imagination and originality, highlighting the complex and multifaceted nature of the relationship between dependencies and freedoms. 

Download Volume 5 via Open Access


Volume 6: The Position of Roman Slaves: Social Realities and Legal Differences

Edited by Prof. Dr. Martin Schermaier, this volume explores the diversity of Roman slavery, challenging the assumption that all slaves were objects without rights and arguing that Roman slavery was more complex than this stereotype. In their articles, the authors discuss how legal texts reflected social differences within the servile community and whether the legal system reinforced social differentiation or generated privileges for specific groups of slaves. In doing so, they aim to challenge the homogeneous image of Roman slave law and demonstrate that it was more colorful than previously assumed. Moreover, the authors hope to make this legal diversity accessible to historical scholarship.

Download Volume 6 via Open Access

Euthenia Fellowship Program

We are proud to announce a new fellowship program at the BCDSS.

The BCDSS Blog is here!

Exciting news! The BCDSS Blog is now live, and we're thrilled to share our inaugural post with you.

Child Labor / Kinderarbeit - Wissenschaftsrallye for 13-17 year-olds

BCDSS Professor Claudia Jarzebowski and student assistant Tobias Happ, together with the BCDSS PR Team, have designed a 15 minute "pop-up lesson" on the history of child labor in the 19th century as part of this year's Wissenschaftsrallye.

24 May - Dies Academicus: Lectures by Prof. Zeuske/Dr. Voss and Prof. Berges

At this year’s Dies Academicus, there will be two public lectures by BCDSS members. 

Panel discussion "Diversity in German Academia"

We're kindly inviting you to our event co-organized with the Equal Opportunity and Diversity Unit.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Fabiane Popinigis
Online via Zoom
04:15 PM - 06:00 PM
What was the role of the intersections of race, class/ethnicity and gender in different lawsuits initiated by women who worked in retail stores against ...
Children at Work, in a Period of Transition, 400-1000 AD
HYBRID event: On site ...
09:30 AM - 07:00 PM
A comparative conference, organized by Heinz Heinen Fellow Christina Laes, that will enable the audience to pay attention to voices often unheard, in language ...
Workshop: Global Voyages, Local Sites
HYBRID event: On site ...
09:00 AM
"Global Voyages, Local Sites: The Long Shadow of Atlantic Slavery in the Anglo-American and German Pacific" workshop brings together renowned scholars working ...
Friday Seminar with Roberto Hofmeister Pich
Heussallee 18-24 ...
04:00 PM - 05:30 PM
This week, Roberto Hofmeister Pich (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), Brazil) is looking forward to a lively discussion of and ...
Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Claudia Jarzebowski
Festsaal, University ...
04:15 PM - 06:00 PM
What did a life under the circumstances of enslavement and strong asymmetrical dependency do to children? What were the effects and how are they to be traced ...
International Workshop on Romani Asymmetrical Dependencies
Onsite in Niebuhrstraße ...
09:30 AM
The International Workshop on Romani Asymmetrical Dependencies is dedicated to exploring asymmetrical relations and understanding co-dependencies between ...
Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Dr. Enrique Martino
HYBRID event: On site ...
04:15 PM - 06:00 PM
What are the challenges of accurately measuring import and export prices in West and Central Africa from the 15th century to the First World War? Our next ...
Friday Seminar with Rafaël Thiébaut
Heussallee 18-24 ...
04:00 PM - 05:30 PM
This week, BCDSS fellow Rafaël Thiébaut is looking forward to a lively discussion and feedback on his project “Unfree Labour in the Southwest Indian Ocean ...

Contact Us

Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS)

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Managing Director: Jeannine Bischoff

Press and PR Manager: Cécile Jeblawei


University of Bonn
Niebuhrstraße 5
53113 Bonn  

Heinz Heinen Kolleg for Advanced Studies (HHK) 


University of Bonn
Heussallee 18–24
53113 Bonn

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