Prof. Dr. Christoph Witzenrath

BCDSS Professor

Room 0.214
Heussallee 18–24
D-53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 73 62947

Team assistant: Astrid Lehmberg
Team: Elena Smolarz, Vitali BylTurkana AllahverdiyevaStanislav Mohylnyi
Student assistant: Nataliia Voitko

Christoph Wiszeneath
© Barbara Frommann

Academic Profile

Centred on the Eurasian steppe and its neighbours, Christoph Witzenrath researches the influence of nomadic-settled relations and the slave trade on social dependency and political representation. Stories of liberation as distinguished from the emphatic, individualized concept of freedom proliferated in various forms, such as widespread identification with the “New Israel” in Muscovy “liberating slaves” by military means and ransom. In a field of tensions and competing loyalties on various sides of the steppe, most captives sold by nomadic slavers mainly on southern markets ultimately remained in their new environments; however, some returned. Premodern peasants’ and workers’ duties, legal and practical arrangements have been neglected since the Soviet period; local investigations are also needed for non-Slavic environments. Eurasian societies in various forms shared the gap between state and dependent social groups. The structural and cultural reasons for this defining difference have yet to be analysed in contradistinction to Africa characterized as predominantly community-oriented. Read more on his research field here.

1 monograph, 1 monograph translated into Italian, 1 paperback edition, 1 edited volume, 12 academic papers, 5 reviews, 40 national and international lectures.

Ph.D. in History, King’s College, University of London, UK

M.A. in History, Eastern European History and Political Science, University of Freiburg, Humboldt University, Berlin and Free University Berlin, Germany   

since 2017
Professor for Premodern Slavery and Strong Asymmetrical Dependencies, Russia to 1800, Political Culture, Empire, and Eurasia, University of Bonn, Germany

Principal Investigator [Projektleiter, wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter], University of Greifswald, Germany

Petro Jacyk Visiting Scholar, Munk School for International Studies, University of Toronto, Canada

Resistance and Abolition Postdoctoral Fellow, Gilder Lehrman Center for the History of Slavery, Yale, USA

Shklar Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, USA

Honorary Research fellow, University of Aberdeen, UK

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of Aberdeen, UK

Member of the DFG Priority Program “Transottomanica: Eastern European-Ottoman-Persian Mobility Dynamics”

Discussant, ASEEES, panel "Language, Style, and Image in Service to Rulers and Rulership: The Royal Letter in Muscovy"

Conference organisation: Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) convention, panel: "Early Modern Exile and Culture" (organizer)

International conference "Slavery, Ransom and Liberation in Russia and the Steppe Area, 1500-2000" (Aberdeen, June 15-16): designer and organizer

American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies convention, idea and co-organizer of the panel "Religion and Representations in Muscovite Foreign Relations"

King’s College London research studentship award

Temporary Position for Principal Investigator, German Research Community (DFG) Priority Program "Transottomanica"

DFG Temporary Position for Principal Investigator

Petro Jacyk Visiting Scholar, Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Toronto, Canada

The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition Fellowship, Yale, USA

German Historical Institute Moscow Fellowship

Shklar Fellowship, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute

Conference allowances: British Association for Slavonic and Eastern European Studies

Leverhulme Trust. Leverhulme early career fellowship

King’s College London research studentship

Total sum of approximately 0.7 million euro ad personam

  • 2022. The Russian Empire, Slaving and Liberation, 1480–1725: Trans-Cultural Worldviews in Eurasia. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. Open access
  • 2021. "Versklavung, Befreiung und Legitimität im Moskauer Reich: Avraamij Palicyn und die Zeit der Wirren." In Die 'Alleinherrschaft' der russischen Zaren in der 'Zeit der Wirren' in transkultureller Perspektive, edited by Diana Ordubadi, Dittmar Dahlmann, 13–44, Göttingen: Bonn University Press at V&R unipress.
  • 2020. "Agency in Muscovite Archives: Trans-Ottoman Slaves Negotiating the Moscow Administration." In New Perspectives on Slavery: The Ottoman Empire, edited by Stephan Conermann and Gül Sen, 87–129. Ottoman Studies. Göttingen: Bonn University Press at V&R unipress.
  • 2019. With Thomas Bohn. "Verflechtungen zwischen dem Moskauer, Petersburger und dem Osmanischen Reich." In Transottomanica – Osteuropäisch-osmanisch-persische Mobilitätsdynamiken. Perspektiven und Forschungsstand, edited by Stefan Rohdewald, Stephan Conermann und Albrecht Fuess, 191–206. Transottomanica 1. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht. Open access
  • 2015. "Slavery in Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia: An Overview of the Russian and Ottoman Empires and Central Asia." In Eurasian Slavery, Ransom and Abolition in World History, 1500–1860, edited by Christoph Witzenrath, 1–77. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • 2015. "'The Conquest of Kazan' as a Place of Remembering the Liberation of Slaves in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Russia." In Eurasian Slavery, Ransom and Abolition in World History, 1500–1860, edited by Christoph Witzenrath, 315–332. Farnham: Ashgate.
  • 2015. "Sklavenbefreiung, Loskauf und Religion im Moskauer Reich." In Gefangenenloskauf im Mittelmeerraum. Ein interreligiöser Vergleich. Akten der Tagung vom 19. bis 21. September 2013 an der Universität Paderborn, edited by Heike Grieser and Nicole Priesching, 287–310. Hildesheim: Olms.
  • 2015. As editor. Eurasian Slavery, Ransom and Abolition in World History, 1500–1860, Farnham: Ashgate.
  • 2012. "Rachat ('Rédemption'), Fortification et Diplomatie dans la Steppe – la Place de l’Empire de Moscou dans la Traite des Esclaves en Eurasie." In Esclavages en Méditerranée. Espaces et Dynamiques Économiques, edited by Fabienne Guillén and Salah Trabelsi, 181–194. Madrid: Casa de Velázquez.
  • 2011. "S.U. Remezov, Cossack Adventurer, and the Opening of Siberia." In Portraits of Old Russia. Imagined Lives of Ordinary People, 1300–1745, edited by Donald Ostrowski and Marshall T. Poe, 209–221. New York: Routledge.
  • 2009. Cossacks and the Russian Empire, 1598–1725. Manipulation, Rebellion, and Expansion into Siberia. Routledge Studies in the History of Russia and Eastern Europe 8. London: Routledge. Ital. translation [I Cosacchi e l'Impero Russo, 1598–1725. Condizionamento, Ribellione ed Espansione in Siberia. Leggeri 34. Gorizia: Libreria Editrice Goriziana, 2009].
  • 2009. "'Sophia – Divine Wisdom' and Justice in Seventeenth-Century Russia." Cahiers du Monde 'Russe' 50(2–3): 409–430.
  • 2009. "Literacy and Orality in the Eurasian Frontier. Imperial Culture and Space in Russia." The Slavonic and East European Review 87(1): 53–77.
  • 2006. "Orthodoxe Kirche und Fernmacht. Das Moskauer Reich, die Kosaken und die Gründung des Bischofssitzes von Tobolsk und Sibirien." In Machträume der frühneuzeitlichen Stadt, edited by Susanne Rau and Christian Hochmuth, 309–322. Constance: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft.
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