Dr. Josef Koestlbauer
© Josef Koestlbauer

Dr. Josef Köstlbauer

University of Bonn
Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
Niebuhrstr. 5
D-53113 Bonn


Current Position

Postdoctoral Research Associate on the ERC Consolidator Grant The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and Its Slaves22

Academic Profile

The Moravian Church and Slavery in the 18th and early 19th century

  • Early Modern Frontiers and Borderlands
  • Media Cultures 1600–2020
  • Digital Media and History

Josef Köstlbauer has published five edited volumes and numerous articles and book chapters. More than twenty national and international presentations

Research Project

The Moravian Church and Slavery in the 18th and Early 19th Century

My research has focused on individuals brought into Moravian Congregations in German principalities, the Netherlands and Britain as well as into Moravian congregations in Pennsylvania. Thirty-nine enslaved or formerly enslaved individuals have been identified and described so far.

Whether free or slave or serf or servant, these individuals were assigned a specific role in the enactment of Moravian (self-)representation. First of all, they were symbols of the success of the Moravians' missionary endeavors. The physical presence of such persons and their ability to speak of their conversions and their relationship to the Savior clearly demonstrated the success of the count's vision. To underline the significance of their function within the community, I have introduced the experimental concept of "representation labor".

The prime task of these people of color in the European congregations was to increase the status of the community and to represent the ideal of worldwide community both to outsiders and to Moravians themselves. Introducing such a idiosyncratic and a historic term is intended as a sort of semantic intervention, highlighting that this can be interpreted as a form a work performed at the intersection of several forms of dependency.

My own research as well as that of my colleagues in the Bremen ERC-project has demonstrated the value of micro-historical approaches in this field. Micro-historical case studies, a close reading of records and a well developed awareness of the semantics at play are help to arrive at a better understanding of the heterogeneous forms of asymmetrical dependencies prevalent in early modern European societies – including slavery. They create insights into the interplay and intersection of norms and practices in very specific historic instances. By reconstructing actual relations between historic individuals and the dynamics of navigating existing notions of slavery, serfdom, and other situations of dependence and coercion can be subverted or expanded upon.


  • 2011                          PhD History, University of Vienna, Austria
  • 2001                          Mag. Phil. (Diploma) History, University of Vienna, Austria
  • 1995–2001              Studies in History, Art History and Communication Sciences, University of Vienna, Austria

Academic Positions

Other Positions

  • 2010–2012                Assistant to the Dean of Studies, Department of History, University of Vienna, Austria
  • 2007–2010                The World of the Habsburgs66
  • 2003–2004                European lieux de mémoire, web project for ARTE TV

Additional Academic Activities and Memberships

Selected Publications

  • Traces of the Slave Trade in the Holy Roman Empire and Its Successor States. With R. von Mallinckrodt, S. Lentz (eds.) Forthcoming.
  • Mission, Representation, and the Elusive Semantics of Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Moravian Sources. In: R. von Mallinckrodt, J. Köstlbauer, S. Lentz (eds.): Traces of the Slave Trade in the Holy Roman Empire and its Successor States. Forthcoming.
  • People of African Descent in Early Modern Europe. with R. von Mallinckrodt, A. Bärwald (eds.). In: Oxford Bibliographies in Atlantic History. Trevor Burnard (ed.). New York: Oxford University Press 2019.
  • Ambiguous Passages: Non-Europeans Brought to Europe by the Moravian Brethren During the 18th Century. In: K. Weber, J. Wimmler (eds.): Globalized Peripheries: Central and Eastern Europe's Atlantic Histories, c. 1680–1860. Woodbridge: Bydell & Brewer 2020.
  • Vom Nutzen und Nachteil einer Historie digitaler Spiele. With E. Pfister. In: C. Hust (ed.): Digitale Spiele: Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven zu Diskursfeldern, Inszenierung und Musik. Bielefeld: Transcript 2018, 89–106.
  • Operationen an den Grenzen des Spiels: Kulturhistorische Annäherungen an das Simulationsspiel. In: M. Clauss, M. Munke, M. Pöhlmann (eds.): Portal Militärgeschichte, Schwerpunkt Krieg im Computerspiel. Feb. 6, 2017.
  • Grenzen – Kulturhistorische Annäherungen. With H. Breitenfellner, E. Crailsheim, E. Pfister (eds.). Vienna: Mandelbaum Verlag 2016.
  • Continent Allegories in Baroque Central Europe. With W. Schmale, M. Romberg (eds.). Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag 2016.
  • Ohne Gott, Gesetz und König: Wahrnehmung kolonialer Grenzräume im britischen und spanischen Nordamerika als Herrschaftsproblem. In: H. Breitenfellner, E. Crailsheim, J. Köstlbauer, E. Pfister (eds.): Grenzen – Kulturhistorische Annäherungen. Vienna: Mandelbaum Verlag 2016, 71–88.
  • Seriality, Symmetry, and Double Coding: Some Thoughts on the Mediality of the Allegories of the Four Continents and Images as Historical Sources. In: W. Schmale, J. Köstlbauer, M. Romberg (eds.): Continent Allegories in the Barock Age. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag 2016.
  • Spiel und Geschichte im Zeichen der Digitalität. In: W. Schmale (ed.): Digital Humanities. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag 2015, 95–124.
    ComputerSpielGeschichte. In: Historische Mitteilungen 26/2014, 107–110.
  • Do Computers Play History? In: F. Kerschbaumer, T. Winnerling (eds.): Early Modernity and Video Games. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2015, 25–36.
  • Simulation und Imagination: Gedanken zum Problem der Realität im Computerspiel. In: Computer – Spiele – Geschichte. Historische Sozialkunde 4/2013, 9–16.
  • The Strange Attraction of Simulation: Realism, Authenticity, Virtuality. In: M. Kapell, A. Elliott (eds.): Playing with the Past: Digital Games and the Simulation of History. London, New York: Bloomsbury Academic Press 2013, 169–213.
  • Struggle for Control of the Peripheries: Comparing American Borderlands of the 18th Century. In: A. Suppan, R. Lein (eds.): From the Habsburgs to Central Europe. Europa Orientalis vol. 6. Vienna, Berlin: LIT, 77–100.
  • Studien zur europäischen Identität im 17. Jahrhundert. With W. Schmale, R. Felbinger (eds.): Bochum: Dr. Winkler 2004.
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