Dr. Josef Köstlbauer

Postdoctoral Researcher

Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
Heussallee 18–24
D-53113 Bonn

Member of

© Barbara Frommann

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

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.

PhD History, University of Vienna, Austria

Mag. Phil. (Diploma) History, University of Vienna, Austria

Studies in History, Art History and Communication Sciences, University of Vienna, Austria

since 2016–present
Postdoctoral Research Associate on the ERC Consolidator Grant The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and Its Slaves

Postdoctoral researcher, Continent Allegories in the Baroque Age, federally funded research project, University of Vienna, Austria

Research Fellow at John F. Kennedy Institute, Free University of Berlin, Germany

Austrian Ministry of Science Fellow at the University of New Orleans, USA

E-Learning Project at the University of Vienna, Austria Geschichte Online

Concepts and Ideas of Europe in the Seventeenth Century

Praedoc Research Grant of the University of Vienna

Assistant to the Dean of Studies, Department of History, University of Vienna, Austria

The World of the Habsburgs

European lieux de mémoire, web project for ARTE TV

  • 2023. With Scott Paul Gordon. "Spangenberg’s 1760 Letter about Slaveholding in St. Thomas and Bethlehem." In Journal of Moravian History 23(2): 143–156. Access
  • 2023. "Slavery in the Holy Roman Empire." In The Palgrave Handbook of Global Slavery throughout History, edited by Damian A. Pargas and Juliane Schiel, 259–277.
  • 2023. With Scott Paul Gordon. "Spangenberg’s 1760 Letter about Slaveholding in St. Thomas and Bethlehem." Journal of Moravian History 23(2): 143–156.
  • 2023. "Subjugation by Labelling: Analysing the Semantics of Subservience in a Fugitive Slave Case from Eighteenth-Century Germany." In Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtsforschung (ÖZG) 34(2): 49–173. Special issue Work Sematics/Semantiken der Arbeit, edited by Juliane Schiel and Claude Chevalreye. 
  • 2023. "A 'Moors’ Lovefeast' and Masked Enslavement in the Eighteenth-Century Moravian Church." In Journal of Global Slavery 8(2–3), 178–206.
  • 2020. "Ambiguous Passages: Non-Europeans Brought to Europe by the Moravian Brethren During the 18th Century." In Globalized Peripheries: Central and Eastern Europe's Atlantic Histories, c. 1680–1860, edited by K. Weber and J. Wimmler. Woodbridge: Bydell & Brewer.
  • 2021. As editor. With R. von Mallinckrodt and S. Lentz. Traces of the Slave Trade in the Holy Roman Empire and Its Successor States.
  • 2021. "'I Have No Shortage of Moors':  Mission, Representation, and the Elusive Semantics of Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Moravian Sources." In Traces of the Slave Trade in the Holy Roman Empire and its Successor States, edited by R. von Mallinckrodt, J. Köstlbauer, and S. Lentz, 108–136.
  • 2021. "Claiming a Runaway Slave in the Holy Roman Empire: The Case of Samuel Johannes (1754)." In Worlds of Related Coercions in Work (WORCK) Working Papers. Open access 
  • 2019. With R. von Mallinckrod and A. Bärwald. "People of African Descent in Early Modern Europe." In Oxford Bibliographies in Atlantic History, edited by Trevor Burnard. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • 2018. With E. Pfister. "Vom Nutzen und Nachteil einer Historie digitaler Spiele." In Digitale Spiele: Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven zu Diskursfeldern, Inszenierung und Musik, edited by C. Hust, 89–106. Bielefeld: Transcript.
  • 2017. "Operationen an den Grenzen des Spiels: Kulturhistorische Annäherungen an das Simulationsspiel." In Portal Militärgeschichte, Schwerpunkt Krieg im Computerspiel, edited by M. Clauss, M. Munke, and M. Pöhlmann.
  • 2016. Grenzen – Kulturhistorische Annäherungen. With H. Breitenfellner, E. Crailsheim, E. Pfister (eds.). Vienna: Mandelbaum Verlag.
  • 2016. As editor. With W. Schmal and M. Romberg. Continent Allegories in Baroque Central Europe. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.
  • 2016. "Ohne Gott, Gesetz und König: Wahrnehmung kolonialer Grenzräume im britischen und spanischen Nordamerika als Herrschaftsproblem." In Grenzen – Kulturhistorische Annäherungen, edited by H. Breitenfellner, E. Crailsheim, J. Köstlbauer, and E. Pfister, 71–88. Vienna: Mandelbaum Verlag.
  • 2016. "Seriality, Symmetry, and Double Coding: Some Thoughts on the Mediality of the Allegories of the Four Continents and Images as Historical Sources." In Continent Allegories in the Barock Age, edited by W. Schmale, J. Köstlbauer, and M. Romberg. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.
  • 2015. "Spiel und Geschichte im Zeichen der Digitalität." In Digital Humanities, edited by W. Schmale, 95–124. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.
  • 2014. "ComputerSpielGeschichte." In Historische Mitteilungen 26: 107–110.
  • 2015. "Do Computers Play History?" In Early Modernity and Video Games, edited by F. Kerschbaumer and T. Winnerling, 25–36. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • 2013. "Simulation und Imagination: Gedanken zum Problem der Realität im Computerspiel." In Computer – Spiele – Geschichte. Historische Sozialkunde 4: 9–16.
  • 2013. "The Strange Attraction of Simulation: Realism, Authenticity, Virtuality." In Playing with the Past: Digital Games and the Simulation of History, edited by M. Kapell and A. Elliott London, 169–213. New York: Bloomsbury Academic Press.
  • 2008. "Struggle for Control of the Peripheries: Comparing American Borderlands of the 18th Century." In From the Habsburgs to Central Europe, edited by A. Suppan and R. Lein, 77–100. Europa Orientalis 6. Vienna, Berlin: LIT.
  • 2004. As editor. With W. Schmale and R. Felbinger. Studien zur europäischen Identität im 17. Jahrhundert. Bochum: Dr. Winkler.
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