Lisa Phongsavath

Doctoral Candidate

Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
Research Associate in Research Group Coerced Circulation of Knowledge
Niebuhrstraße 5
D-53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 73 62565

Lisa Phongsavath.jpg
© Barbara Frommann

Academic Profile

The Cultural Knowledge of Child Slavery in the Tai World, 1656-1855 

My research project examines the practices of trading children in the early-modern ‘Tai world’ of central mainland Southeast Asia. I investigate the role of cultural knowledge in enabling these practices and reinforcing their structures of asymmetrical dependency. Through analysing the circulation of this knowledge, I aim to show how child slavery was catalysed by more than the existential desperation of parents and traffickers. Family mentalities, conceptions of filial debt, and prescriptions of girlhood and boyhood, as socially formative and everyday articulations of cultural knowledge, were just as constitutive to the trade and traffic of children, as well as their wider social acceptance. 

As such practices travelled through this highly connected space, the diversity of its cultural knowledge additionally needs to be emphasised. As a second aim, my research works through the ambiguity of how children, through slavery and other forms of trade, could move and be moved across the supposed geographical, administrative, class, ethnic and cultural boundaries of the Tai world. I explore how the trade of children and its accompanying cultural knowledge might have facilitated cross-cultural contact and the formation of shared dependencies in this globalising space.

Ph.D. in History, Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, University of Bonn, Germany

M.A. in Global History, Free University of Berlin and Humboldt University Berlin, Germany

Exchange Studies, University of Constance, Germany

B.A. in History and German Language and Culture, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

since 2020
Research Associate in Research Group Coerced Circulation of Knowledge, University of Bonn, Germany

Student Assistant in Communication and Publications, Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin, Germany

Junior Researcher, Facts and Files, Historical Research Institute, Berlin, Germany

Member of Editorial Team, "Global Histories: A Student Journal"

Member of Organizing Team, "Global History Student Conference"

  • With Martina Yeo Huijun: Review of Studying Singapore Before 18002. Guan, K.C., Borschberg, P. (eds.): Singapore: NUS Press, 2018, Global Histories 5, no. 1 (May 2019), 156–161.
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