Dr. Lori De Lucia


University of Bonn
Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
- Remote attendance -


Lori De Lucia.jpg
© Lori De Lucia

Academic Profile

Lori De Lucia is a historian who specializes in the history of slavery in the early modern Mediterranean, with a focus on networks connecting southern Italy and West Africa. Her research examines the interaction of ideologies of race and practices of slavery, positioning Western Sicily as an important crossroads of early modern Mediterranean and trans-Saharan human trafficking routes. She is also interested in how the study of race and slavery in the early modern Italian context can inform contemporary issues of migration, citizenship and human trafficking in the Mediterranean. De Lucia received her doctorate in History from UCLA in 2020. In 2020, De Lucia was a visiting researcher at the Boston University African Studies Center, where she also served as a Hausa language consultant for the NEH ʿAjamī project. In 2021-2022 she is continuing her research as a postdoctoral fellow with the Bonn University Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, the Weatherhead Initiative for Global History at Harvard University, and Villa I Tatti.

Census data from Palermo, Sicily shows that many enslaved and freed Black Africans lived in sixteenth-century households. They traveled different routes than their North African and Jewish counterparts; from the West African sultanate of Borno and its hinterlands into Libyan ports. In her doctoral dissertation, “Sicily and The Two Seas: The Cross Currents of Race and Slavery in Early Modern Palermo,” De Lucia utilized the local archives of Palermo to examine what these enslaved Sicilian communities could reveal about trans-Saharan human trafficking routes and racialized practices of slavery in the Mediterranean. During her time at Bonn she will be expanding this research in a project titled “The Early Modern Slave Trade Between Borno and Palermo: Locating Blackness in Mediterranean Practices of Slavery.” In addition to preparing a book manuscript based on her dissertation, she will be drawing from her archival research, to focus on a journal publication that delves into how early modern Palermo’s demographics, legal proclamations and labor practices interplayed with the creation of social hierarchies within enslaved communities. She will examine how access to mobility often fell along racialized lines, distinguishing between Palermo’s role in the movement of captives from corsair warfare in the wider Mediterranean and the long-term enslaved Black communities living in Sicilian households. De Lucia also aims to further explore transnational narratives that re-integrate African histories, and archives, into the global networks that they helped shape. In particular, she aims to initiate a project that integrates Hausa ʿAjamī documents and oral histories into histories of the Black Mediterranean.

Research Chapter

  • “The Space Between Borno and Palermo: Slavery and Its Boundaries in the Late Medieval Saharan-Mediterranean Region.” In Debra Blumenthal, Kathryn Reyerson, Tiffany Vann Sprecher and Ann Zimo eds. Rethinking Medieval Margins and Marginality. London; New York: Routledge, March 2020.

Book Reviews

  • Review of “Barker, Hannah. That Most Precious Merchandise: The Mediterranean Trade in Black Sea Slaves 1260-1500. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019. 314 pp.” Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures: Vol. 10 No. 1 (Spring 2021): 140-142.
  • Review of “Youngstedt, Scott M. Surviving with Dignity: Hausa Communities of Niamey, Niger. United Kingdom: Lexington Books, 2013. 226 pp.” Journal of Retracing Africa: Vol. 2 Issue 1 (2016): 124-125.

Web-Based Collaborative Publications

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