Viola Müller
Postdoctoral Researcher

Dr. Viola Müller

University of Bonn
Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
Heussallee 18-25
D-53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 / (0)228 / 73 62940


Current Position

Postdoctoral Researcher at Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies


Viola Franziska Müller is a social historian specialized in slavery and labor coercion. Her research interests include inequality, illegality, im/mobility, race, resistance, and urban history. Viola has studied people who escaped US-American slavery in the antebellum era (1800-1860) and found refuge in the cities of the slaveholding South. Her forthcoming book provides an encompassing analysis of their social worlds and labor prospects in the rapidly changing economic, demographic, and political landscape of the urban South. Her new project deals with labor conditions of free and enslaved workers in cities of the nineteenth-century Americas. Taking a transnational comparative approach, it focuses on discriminative legislation, industrialization, urban labor markets, and the social dimensions of capitalism. In the center of Viola’s research are always those men and women who were marginalized and have left few traces in the historical archives.


  • 2015–2020                 Ph.D. History, Leiden University, Netherlands
  • 2013–2015                 M.A. History, Leiden University, Netherlands
  • 2007–2012                 B.A. Latin American Studies and Economics, University of Cologne, Germany

Academic Positions

  • 2021–present             Postdoctoral Researcher at Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2020–2021                 Lecturer in Economic and Social History, Utrecht University, Netherlands
  • 2019–2020                 Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow, European University Institute, Fiesole, Italy
  • 2019                             Visiting Research Fellow at Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA    

Additional Academic Activitie

  • Think Tank coordinator, COST Action “Worlds of Related Coercions in Work” (WORCK)
  • Co-coordinator of working group “Labour and Coercion,” European Labour History Network (ELHN)
  • Journal Assistant Journal of Global Slavery (JGS)
  • Advisory Board member Huarte San Juan: Geografía e Historia, Public University of Navarra, Spain

Third-Party Funding

  • Max Weber Programme for Postdoctoral Studies, European University Institute, Fiesole, Italy
  • Premium for timely completion of PhD dissertation, Leiden University, Netherlands
  • Fundatie van de Vrijvrouwe van Renswoude te Delft, Netherlands
  • LUSTRA+ Scholarship Leiden University, Netherlands
  • Curatorenfonds Scholarship Leiden University, Netherlands
  • Language Assistant Program, joint scholarship by German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) & Instituto Colombiano de Crédito Educativo y Estudios Técnicos en el Exterior (ICETEX)

Memberships in Projects of Other Institution
Worlds of Related Coercions in Work

The COST Action “Worlds of Related Coercions in Work” (WORCK) calls for a radical change of perspective in labor history. It links the stories of work and production with those of violence, expropriation and marginalization. By studying the persistence and transformations of coercion and bondage across gender orders, geographic regions and historical eras, WORCK shifts the focus of labor history: Neither the male-breadwinner model nor the free wage laborer or the capitalist mode of production can form the blueprint for this new history of WORCK. Instead, a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of coercion in all work relations throughout history is the pivot of this endeavor.

Selected Publications

    • “Early Undocumented Workers: Runaway Slaves and African Americans in the Urban South, c. 1830-1860,” Labor History 61:2 (2020): 90–106.
    • “Internal Slave Migrations in the Americas,” Oxford Bibliographies in Atlantic History, ed. Trevor Burnard. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.
    • Runaway Slaves in Antebellum Baltimore: An Urban Form of Marronage?,” International Review of Social History 65:28 (2020): 169–195.
    • Illegal but Tolerated: Slave Refugees in Richmond, Virginia, 1800-1860”. In: Fugitive Slaves and Spaces of Freedom in North America, 1775–1860, ed. Damian A. Pargas (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2018; paperback 2020), 137–167.
    • “Champeta Music: Between Regional Popularity and National Rejection, Colombia 1970-2000,” Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies / Revue canadienne des études latino-américaines et caraïbes 43:1 (2018): 79–101.

Media Output

  • With David de Boer: Newspaper opinion piece “Excuses voor slavernij? Bestrijd dan ook moderne slavernij actief,” Het Parool, 2020.
  • Expert commentator in documentary Leben in Ketten: Das Ende des transatlantischen Sklavenhandels, ORF2 (Austrian public television), broadcasting December 6, 2019, originally Ebony: The Last Years of the Atlantic Slave Trade, by Moussa Touré (2016).
Wird geladen