Book Discussion
Slavery and Dependency: Comparative Approaches in Global History
Juneteenth Lecture
Thematic focus of 2023/24
On Gender and Intersectionality
Book Discussion
Juneteenth Lecture
Thematic focus of 2023/24

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.      

Reading & Discussion with Anne Haeming

Video out now! 
The Life of Wilhelm Joest

Watch our short clip about the reading and discussion with Anne Haeming as part of our (UN)ABHÄNGIGE ANSICHTEN series from 15 February 2024.

Anne Haeming was queried on the challenges of writing about an imperial actor like Wilhelm Joest from today's perspective.  

Call for Papers

Recent cataclysms in Eastern Europe prove glaringly just how important it is to continuously discuss and analyze asymmetrical dependencies in premodern inner Eurasian connecting spaces north and east of the great mountain ranges (e.g., Carpathians, Caucasus, Pamir, Tien Shan, Altai, etc.), now in large parts claimed by Russia.

The conference reaches beyond what is now Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, encouraging scientific debates across regional and temporal disciplinary boundaries with area studies globally within the framework of the histories of entanglements and memory

Juneteenth Lecture by Charmaine A. Nelson

The scholarship on transatlantic slavery has long benefited from the often-exhaustive data published in the fugitive slave archive. Ubiquitous throughout the transatlantic world, fugitive slave advertisements were commonly placed by enslavers seeking to recapture enslaved people who resisted through flight. Such notices commonly provided specific, invasive detail about an enslaved person’s body, dress, skills, languages, and even gestures and mannerisms. Although enslaved females standardly comprised a smaller percentage of runaways, nevertheless, the fugitive notices that do exist for female freedom seekers shed light on their lives and experiences. Through an examination of the fugitive slave archive and other sources, this lecture seeks to fill some of the scholarly gaps on the experiences of enslaved females of African descent in Canada. More specifically, it will offer some distinctions between the lives and experiences of enslaved females in slave minority (temperate) and slave majority (tropical) sites in the British transatlantic world.

New BCDSS Discussion Paper Out Now!

The third BCDSS Discussion Paper on "Asymmetrical Dependencies and Intersectionality" has just been published. 

The Discussion Papers are dedicated to discussing the theoretical side of "strong asymmetrical dependency." They serve as impulses for researchers in and beyond the BCDSS who intend to work with the new key concept of strong asymmetrical dependency.


Workshop: Why Words Matter in Academia: Challenges and obstacles, policies and solutions

BCDSS' Translator & Academic Editor Imogen Herrad and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator Dima Al Munajed will host this workshop for the University of Bonn's Diversity Days 2024.

New Book of DSS Series Published by De Gruyter

Narratives of Dependency: Textual Representations of Slavery, Captivity, and Other Forms of Strong Asymmetrical Dependencies

Edited by Prof. Dr. Elke Brüggen and Prof. Dr. Marion Gymnich. This book is part of the book series Dependency & Slavery Studies


Dies Academicus: Case Studies in the History of Slavery and Abolition

With Sara Eriksson, Sarah Zimmerman, and Natalie Joy, three of this year's BCDSS Fellows will present their personal research projects at the Dies Academicus on 15 May 2024. 

"Journal of Global Slavery" Special Issue: Beyond Slavery and Freedom

The newest issue of the Journal of Global Slavery includes the Special Issue “Beyond Slavery and Freedom?”, edited by BCDSS members Pia Wiegmink and Jutta Wimmler. The Special Issue demonstrates the variety of research done at the cluster. The Introduction is available as open access.

Slavery and Dependency: Comparative Approaches in Global History
Neues Medienzentrum der ...
06:00 PM - 08:00 PM
The history of slavery undergoes a massive paradigm shift in recent times. One aspect is how Slavery and Dependency Studies reconceptualize the history of ...
The Genetic Turn in Historical and Archaeological Research
Niebuhrstraße 5 , 53113 ...
09:05 AM - 05:30 PM
This workshop explores the intersection of archaeology and genetics, the power and complexities of archaeogenetics, a field that's reshaping our understanding ...
Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Stephanie Jones-Rogers
Online via Zoom
06:15 PM - 07:45 PM
What was the crucial and yet overlooked role that British women played in the Atlantic slave trade? While much focus has been on English men involved in the ...
Juneteenth Lecture by Charmaine A. Nelson
Conference Room (0.018), ...
06:00 PM - 09:00 PM
"Enslaved Females in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Nova Scotia and Quebec: Examining the Canadian Fugitive Slave Archive" Through an examination of ...
Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Elizabeth Urban
Online via Zoom
04:15 PM - 06:00 PM
How did elite Arab-Muslim households treat unfree women from 600 to 800 CE? Examining mawlayāt, servile women who were not technically enslaved, this talk ...
The Iconography of Dependency, Social Inequality and 'Otherness'
Bonner Universitätsforum,...
09:30 AM
In the past, most iconographical studies on slavery and similar phenomena focused on specific regions, cultures and periods. The aim of this conference is to ...

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  

BCDSS Fellowship Programs


University of Bonn
Heussallee 18–24
53113 Bonn

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