All Events

Conference: Autorität und Soft Power im Judentum und Christentum
Feb 26, 2024 09:05 to Feb 28, 2024 07:00

Machtausübung geschieht in Judentum und Christentum auf vielfältige Weise, ohne dass dabei auf rohe Gewalt zurückgegriffen wird. Über Jahrhunderte hinweg haben sich in beiden Religionen Hierarchien und asymmetrische Abhängigkeiten entwickelt, die teilweise sogar als konstitutiv für jüdische und christliche Gemeinschaften angesehen werden. Dabei wurden Prozesse etabliert, um Autorität zu sichern und die Ausübung, Verteilung und Weitergabe von „sanfter“ Macht zu regeln. Bei dieser Tagung steht die Frage im Mittelpunkt, wie sich diese Formen von Autorität und Macht in unterschiedlicher Weise institutionell manifestieren, beispielsweise in Ritualen, disziplinären Systemen oder synodalen Entscheidungen. Darüber hinaus fragen wir auch danach, wie religiöse Autoritätspersonen (Lehrende, Amtsträger und - trägerinnen) die Anhänger der jeweiligen Religion auch individuell, zum Beispiel mittels Charisma, Bildung und Tradition, beeinflusst und auch manipuliert haben.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Jane Whittle
Jan 22, 2024 from 04:15 to 06:00

How did Mary Astell question the apparent contradiction between the freedom of all men and the perceived enslavement of all women? This lecture reexamines women's economic status in early modern Europe, probing the link between their economic position and personal freedom. It highlights gender inequalities in work tasks, employment forms, and pay levels, presenting new evidence from England and comparing it to research on Sweden and Germany. The lecture critiques two theoretical frameworks—economic choice and feminist patriarchy—arguing their insufficiency. Instead, it explores the concept of women's freedom/unfreedom, drawing on ideas from the history of slavery, Carole Pateman, and Amartya Sen for a deeper understanding of economic gender inequality roots.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Sandro Mezzadra
Dec 18, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

Can postcolonial capitalism's global development reveal a standard, and what are its political implications? Explore this with scholars like Lowe, Roediger, and Chakrabarty, and then delve into Du Bois and Fanon's insights on the interplay of colonialism, race, and capitalism. Analyze the "black radical tradition" and its impact on understanding primitive capital accumulation. Conclude by questioning how Du Bois and Fanon's racial and colonial insights resonate in contemporary metropolitan centers.

Joseph C. Miller Lecture by Kate Cooper
Dec 11, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

How does Augustine's Confessions reveal the often-overlooked lives of women, children, and the enslaved in fourth-century Roman Africa, shedding light on their agency amid societal constraints?

Workshop: Forms of Freedom during Slavery in Latin America
Dec 11, 2023 from 09:00 to 01:30

As co-organizers, we are delighted to announce an upcoming workshop that delves into the intricate theme of "Forms of Freedom during Slavery in Latin America: History, Approaches, and Archives." The workshop is a collaboration between the BCDSS and former BCDSS fellow Prof. Dr. Carolina González. This event brings together historians to share their experiences and research inquiries on the enslavement of people of African and indigenous origin in Latin America from the 17th to the 19th centuries, with a focus on various forms of freedom in different contexts. The discussion will be structured around three themes: History, Approaches, and Archives.

Book Talk with Ana Lucia Araujo
Dec 08, 2023 from 10:00 to 12:00

Join us as historian Ana Lucia Araujo discusses her latest book, 'The Gift: Exploring the Influence of Prestigious Objects in the Atlantic Slave Trade and Colonialism' in an engaging reading and discussion session. The book explores how objects of prestige contributed to cross-cultural exchanges between Africans and Europeans during the Atlantic slave trade. Drawing on a rich set of sources in French, English, and Portuguese, as well as artifacts housed in museums across Europe and the Americas, Ana Lucia Araujo illuminates how luxury objects impacted European–African relations, and how these economic, cultural, and social interactions paved the way for the European conquest and colonization of West Africa and West Central Africa.

Dies Academicus: Gender and Gender Ambiguity
Dec 06, 2023 from 10:15 to 11:15

"One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman," Simone de Beauvoir argues in her famous book The Second Sex, published in 1949. This has come as no surprise to historians since the 1990s, as women's and gender studies have identified numerous examples that argue against historically defined, biological gender roles. In this light, we ask what historically characterized a man or a woman and how were gender identities defined, for which there are long abbreviations today? What definitions and ideas of ‘woman’ and ‘man’ were there in the first place? And: Did this broad variance in gender identities also exist in historical and transcultural comparison? The perhaps surprising answer is: Of course! You will learn more about this with the help of three illustrative contributions on Europe and Asia by researchers from the Bonn Centre for Dependency and Slavery Studies. A short series of three presentations will be held in German and English.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Rachel Sarah O’Toole
Dec 04, 2023 from 06:00 to 07:30

How did enslaved individuals in the Americas navigate the path to freedom? Focusing on Trujillo, Peru, this lecture contends that legal manumission alone did not guarantee freedom. Instead, it argues that enslaved individuals, particularly in 17th-century Trujillo, strategically combined debt and manumission agreements. Analyzing notarial records, the study shows how these individuals, following the examples of scholars like Kathryn Burns and others, used the public recording of debt to assert financial autonomy and reputational responsibility. Enslaved men positioned themselves as providers in patriarchal roles, while women used debt agreements to claim municipal subjectivity and honorable casta identities. This dual strategy was a conscious step toward freedom in a gendered context.

Plantations: Forms & Practices of Coerced Labor in Global History
Nov 24, 2023 from 09:30 to 12:30

This round table event aims at interrogating the concept of the plantation and incorporate emergent theoretical insight on forms and practices of coerced labor, whether or not situated in the context of agricultural commodity or mineral extraction, which bears similarity to the plantation form. For some time scholars have pointed to the ways plantations in the Global South have been linked to the growth and expansion of modern capitalism at the cost of persistent underdevelopment. In the wake of the global turn, a linear narrative between the Caribbean and Northern Europe is being displaced by a far more decentered history. In turn, there is increasing emphasis on the afterlives of the plantation, from biopolitics to the racialization of labor. You are invited to share your research but are also more than welcome to listen in. If you want to join this round table on plantations and other forms of exploitative mass production, please get in touch with the organizers.

Film Screening & Conversation: PARIS IS BURNING
Nov 23, 2023 from 08:00 to 10:30

Don’t miss our third and last film screening this year in cooperation with Kino in der Brotfabrik: PARIS IS BURNING, a landmark documentary from 1990 by Jennie Livingston (USA). Documenting the queer “Ballroom Culture” in New York City in the 1980s, this groundbreaking movie depicts Latinx and Black queer and transgender communities. It explores their struggles with multiple forms of discrimination regarding their race, class, gender, sexual identity long before concepts such as gender fluidity or intersectionality were discussed in society. Stay on after the screening and join the conversion and get-together with free drinks/nibbles! BCDSS Professor Julia Hillner will give a short introduction on the BCDSS’ thematic year with a research focus on Gender (and Intersectionality). Förderverein Filmkultur, the Queer-Referat (AStA Uni Bonn) and BCDSS Professor Pia Wiegmink will kickstart the post-screening conversation.

Book Launch - Late Roman Italy: Imperium to Regnum
Nov 21, 2023 from 06:00 to 08:00

Join the book presentation and discussion with Dr. Jeroen Wijnendaele, postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Dr. Julia Hillner's project "Connecting Late Antiquities". This book delves into the significant political, social, economic, religious, and cultural changes that shaped a crucial region of the Roman world during the second quarter of the first millennium CE. Key features include its status as the first modern research volume on Late Antiquity's core region, a tight chronological focus on the transformation of Late Roman Italy, and a balanced exploration of topics like gender and environmental history. The volume reevaluates the pivotal transition in Late Antiquity, specifically the shift from the Roman Empire to autonomous kingdoms in Italy between 250 and 500 CE.

Book Launch and Discussion
Nov 21, 2023 from 02:00 to 04:00

Join us for the book launch of Prof. Dr. Christoph Witzenrath's latest publication "The Russian Empire, Slaving and Liberation, 1480-1725", followed by a discussion with Prof. Dr. Martin Aust regarding the book's content. The De Gruyter book series of the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies holds publications that examine different phenomena of slavery and other forms of strong asymmetrical dependencies in societies. The series follows the BCDSS research agenda in going beyond the dichotomy of slavery versus freedom. It proposes a new key concept, strong asymmetrical dependency, which covers all forms of bondage across time and space. This includes debt bondage, convict labor, tributary labor, servitude, serfdom, and domestic work, as well as forms of wage labor and various types of patronage. To register, please send a mail to

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Nadine Riegler
Nov 20, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

How did ancient gender discourse shape the roles and agency of women and men in mobility, and what factors influenced their ability to shape their own mobility and that of others during late antiquity? This lecture explores how gender has historically led to disparities and inequalities, particularly in the context of mobility studies. Traditionally, mobile women were often seen as mere companions, not decision-makers. Through late antique letters, we examine the gender discourse's impact on travel and mobility, shedding light on who held influence in these journeys and whether gender was the sole determinant of agency. These mobility stories provide valuable insights into gendered mobility in late antiquity.

ESTA (Exploring Slave Trade in Asia) Database Launch
Nov 17, 2023 from 01:30 to 05:30

Over the past five years, a project team based at the International Institute of Social History (IISH), Amsterdam has developed the ESTA Database structure in collaboration with international partners. The ESTA project has established a relational database model that is able to accommodate structural differences in source material and (existing) datasets relating to different parts of the Indian Ocean and maritime Asia region. Currently (2023), the database contains over 4,000 slave trade voyages across the maritime Asia region between roughly 1600 and 1850. The number of enslaved persons transported during these voyages range from at least 340,000–342,500 to 600,000 individuals. IISH and BCDSS are closely linked not only by their collaboration on this project but also by an international partnership. 13:30 Welcome 13:45 Launch of ESTA Database 14:30 Comments 15:00 Open Discussion and Q&A 16:30 Reception Registration required due to limited seating!

Book Launch - The Abolitionist Civil War
Nov 15, 2023 from 09:00 to 10:00

Join the Facebook Live discussion and Q&A featuring the former BCDSS Bonn-Yale-Anton-Wilhelm-Amo-Fellow Dr. Frank J. Cirillo and his new LSU Press book, "The Abolitionist Civil War: Immediatists and the Struggle to Transform the Union." The presentation will take place from 2–2:30pm, followed by a 10-minute Q&A.

Public talk by Sabrina Fernandes
Nov 08, 2023 from 05:00 to 06:00

"Ecological Transition and the Dependency Trap: Challenging Old Approaches to Sovereignty". Sabrina Fernandes is a Brazilian sociologist and political economist with a PhD from Carleton University, Canada. She has researched transitions and ecology for over a decade, with expertise on Latin America. Formerly a postdoctoral fellow with the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, with research appointments at the University of Vienna, Freie Universität Berlin, and University of Brasília, she has recently completed a fellowship with the Centre of Advanced Latin American Studies at the University of Guadalajara focused on the Anthropocene and the topic of sacrifice zones. She was also a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine and chief editor of Jacobin Brazil. Her books and articles cover various fields and her publications can be found in English, Portuguese, Spanish and other languages. Currently, she is Head of Research at the Alameda Institute.

Monumentality in Southern Central America Conference
Nov 08, 2023 09:30 to Nov 09, 2023 05:00

Monumentality in Southern Central America: Complexity, Inequality, Dependency? Perspectives on Human and other-than-human Relationships A Hybrid Collaborative Conference by the University of Bonn and Leiden University, supported through NWO-VICI grant (VI.C.221.093), Principal Investigator Dr. Alexander Geurds" Monumentality in archaeology serves as a descriptive and interpretative term. It characterizes notable objects and structures in landscapes and theorizes societal organization. This workshop explores monumentality in southern Central America through landscape transformations using enduring materials like stone. Monumentality, viewed as a product of human-nature relationships, doesn't signify social stratification but instead an effort to establish dependency on the natural world.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Christopher Paolella
Nov 06, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

What are the historical and socioeconomic factors that have contributed to the emergence and perpetuation of human trafficking and the commercial sex industry, and how do these factors connect to the late-medieval world and modern society? Today, poverty and corruption are frequently cited as major underlying causes of modern slavery and human trafficking. However, these issues are not exclusive to modern society; they have deep historical roots transcending borders, cultures, and economic systems. Human trafficking networks thrived in the late-medieval world, using tactics like kidnapping, abduction, familial pressure, and predatory employment to exploit vulnerable women and girls in various industries, including food service, textiles, and domestic work

Annual Conference: Households as Coercive Labour Regimes
Nov 02, 2023 10:00 to Nov 03, 2023 07:00

The conference will focus in the larger household organizations, including the private households of the military, political and economic elites, but also, for example, plantations, private companies, haciendas and estates. All can be considered as households where the head wields extensive if not absolute power over its members. All these households represented labour regimes which were based on an asymmetrically dependent work force consisting of servants, peasants, enslaved and other coerced labourers. We will address the following issues: How do we define the household? How do people enter and exit the household? Who belongs to the household? What is the division of labour? How does it function as a unit of production and/or economic unit? What are the mechanisms of control within the household? All in all, we would like to test the idea that “household” can be developed into an analytical tool to analyze strong asymmetrical dependencies in societies.

Book Launch: Trevor Burnard & Damian Pargas
Oct 31, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

We are very pleased that Trevor Burnard and Damian Pargas have offered to present and discuss their new books with us! Trevor Burnard, Writing the History of Global Slavery (Cambridge Elements, Cambridge University Press), forthcoming (November 2023) Damian Pargas (ed., together with Juliane Schiel), The Palgrave Handbook of Global Slavery throughout History (Palgrave MacMillan), June 2023 The discussion is moderated by BCDSS postdoctoral researcher Viola Müller and is followed by a reception.

Reading & Discussion with Mareice Kaiser
Oct 30, 2023 from 06:15 to 07:45

Join us on Monday, October 30, 2023, at 18:15 CET for a reading and discussion evening with Mareice Kaiser, BCDSS Principal Investigator Karoline Noack and Jean-Pierre Schneider, Director of Caritas Bonn, about the dependency relationships behind the unjust distribution of money and how this could be overcome. The event is a cooperation between the BCDSS and the Adult Education Center (VHS) Bonn.

Workshop: Child Slaveries in the Early Modern World, 1500-1800
Oct 18, 2023 from 12:00 to 05:00

The workshop is organized by the German-Australian DAAD-UA collaborative project "Child Slaveries in the Early Modern World: Gender, Trauma, and Trafficking in Transcultural Perspectives (1500-1800)" of early career researchers from the Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, and the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies and hosted by the BCDSS History and Theory Working Group. We explore historical dimensions of child slavery, dependency, gender and emotions in multiple world regions, with research grounded in archival and visual narratives.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Jay Geller
Oct 16, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

In his presentation, Jay Geller will attend to the ascription (and manufacture) of animality that enacted the subordination or marginalization of “the Jew” and the dominance of the Gentile and similarly functioned with regard to a racially-identified group, people of predominantly sub-Saharan African descent (blacks), and the corresponding race-identifying group, people of predominantly European descent (whites). Trigger warning for attending audiences and students: We would like to disclose that some audiences may find the verbal and visual content of this presentation triggering or offensive as it draws on antisemitic and racist representations. The material includes content that touches on: animal cruelty or animal death, violence and trauma connected to antisemitism, racism and racial conflict, antisemitic and racial slurs. We ask attending audiences who may feel triggered, overwhelmed or panicked by the content to take the necessary steps for their emotional safety.

Workshop: Labour that Heals the Soul
Oct 12, 2023 10:00 to Oct 13, 2023 12:30

In the early modern period, forced labour went hand in hand with imprisonment and had an inherent punitive logic: the publicly performed labour of prisoners was supposed to have a deterrent effect and act preventively, similar to rituals of corporal punishment. In the context of the centralisation of absolutist power for the "state of common good", a complementary view of the work of imprisoned delinquents emerged: it had to be increasingly conveyed as a means of human improvement. The police objectives were combined with the reformatory purposes. Work became the antithesis of idleness, and in the penitentiaries of Europe the convicts not only had to be made to work for fiscal purposes, but the poor also had to be (re)educated to work. The planned workshop brings together case studies from different cultural contexts and will ask about the genealogy of the discourse of labour and the possible transfers and retransfers of the concept of penal labour as a means of correction.

"Tori and Lokita": Film Screening and Discussion
Sep 28, 2023 from 06:30

"Tori and Lokita" depicts multiple forms of strong asymmetrical dependencies connected to migration from Africa to Europe. Two young refugees from Benin and Cameroon form a makeshift safety net for one another in the absence of blood relatives while they are facing marginalization, coerced labor, child labor, sexual exploitation, criminilization and further forms of oppression in Belgium. The film screening will start at 18:30 CET, followed by a discussion at 20:00 CET. The dicussion will be kick-started with input from BCDSS Professor Claudia Jarzebowski and PhD Researcher Boluwatife Akinro, as well as Professor Britta Hartmann and Lucas Curstädt of the Media Studies Department, University of Bonn. The discussion will be held mainly in German, however, contributions in English are welcome, and we will translate where necessary. The entire event is free of charge for everyone. Please REGISTER BY 27 September, 5 pm, via:

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Fabiane Popinigis
Sep 25, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

What was the role of the intersections of race, class/ethnicity and gender in different lawsuits initiated by women who worked in retail stores against their employers in different legal contexts throughout the nineteenth century in Rio de Janeiro?

Fellows Block Seminar
Sep 25, 2023 from 11:00 to 03:30

This week, we'll have a Fellows Block Seminar, including book and project presentations, which will also be the last one for this academic year (2022/23)! We're looking forward to the following presentations: 1) 11:00-12:00 Katja Makhotina, HHK Fellow (book presentation) Title: “Monastery and prison. Places of Confinement in Western Europe and Russia from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age”, edited by Katja Makhotina, Falk Bretschneider, Natalia Muchnik, Martin Aust. Moscow 2022 2) 12:30-13:15 Ulbe Bosma, IISH Amsterdam (project presentation) Title: “The Global South in the Age of Early Industrial Capitalism: Commodity Frontiers and Social Transformations (1816-1870)” 3) 13:30-14:15 Emmanuel Saboro, University of Cape Coast (project presentation) Title: “Sites of Memory: Visuality and Metaphors of Slavery in Ghana” decades of the twentieth century. 5) 15:15-15:30 Stephan Conermann (wrap up) For more info, check the link below.

Friday Seminar with Peter Marx
Sep 22, 2023 from 04:00 to 06:30

This week, guest lecturer Peter Marx (University of Cologne) is looking forward to a lively discussion of and feedback on his project "'Unehrlich' [Insincere] and marginalized: On the precarious status of performers in the Early Modern period." The legal status of performers – actors, dancers, musicians, media performers – was highly precarious throughout the Early Modern period. Looking more closely into the field, it becomes obvious that this status reflects more general questions of freedom, social status and a field of arts that was an intrinsic part of the social fabric, yet always confined to the margins. The paper tries to sketch some outlines for future research in this field in the perspective of a connected history (Subrahmanyam).

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Mikhail Nakonechnyi
Sep 18, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

How important is the little-known return of severely ill ex-inmates from Stalinist penitentiaries (1930-1953) compared to the widely known transfers within the Soviet GULAG system? Examining the mass deaths of released prisoners during their journeys back from the camps reveals a new facet of human suffering often overlooked in official statistics. Considering these overlooked victims improves our understanding of the true human cost of the GULAG system.

Sweet Tassa: Music of the Indian Caribbean Diaspora
Sep 16, 2023 from 04:00

Workshop Series and Study Group “Anthropological Perspectives on Embodied Dependencies” Screening & Discussion of the documentary (58 minutes) In this session we will discuss the ways that music-making reflects the intertwined legacies of slavery and indentureship in Trinidad & Tobago. While historical animosities between Indian- and African-Trinidadians continue to fuel political and social divisions in the country, analysis of Trinbagonian music contrarily suggests that Indian- and African-Trinidadians have long exchanged musical ideas such that musics often considered solely “Indian” or “African” are in fact characterized by marked fusions of various styles. In this way, music-making can be read like an archive of colonial and postcolonial intimacies. We will watch the documentary “Sweet Tassa: Music of the Indian Caribbean Diaspora” and discuss it with its director Chris Ballengee, who is an ethnomusicologist based in Poland and scholar of Indo-Caribbean culture.

POSTPONED: Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Claudia Bernardi
Sep 11, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

The lecture has been postponed to a future date! We apologise for any inconvenience! What was the Bracero Program and how did it impact labor relations in North America from 1942 to 1964? This lecture analyzes the term "bracero" and its use, exploring various perspectives from workers, growers, unions, public opinion, and government representatives. Primary sources from the Archivo General de la Nación in Mexico City and the Bracero History Archive will be utilized to assess the program's dependency relationships and its legacy.

Archaeologies of Dependency in Latin America
Sep 07, 2023 to Sep 08, 2023

This international conference will explore asymmetrical dependencies and related phenomena in Latin America from an archaeological point of view. A recent paradigm shift has resulted in the study of diverse forms of dependency across space and time, including colonialism, slavery, political-ideological coercion, coerced tribute, servitude, serfdom, debt bondage, convict labor, indentured migration, labor migration, and forced relocation of groups of laborers. These new research foci also entail the development and application of new theoretical, methodological, and not least data-driven approaches, thereby analyzing and combining various lines of evidence. We intend this conference to be a forum for discussion, bringing together a wide range of perspectives and case studies from different regions and time periods in Latin America.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Raquel Gil Montero
Sep 04, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

How did labor relations evolve in colonial Hispanic America, and what factors contributed to the increased coercion in the seventeenth century? Hypothesizing that the scarcity of labor, caused by a demographic debacle, the disintegration of indigenous society, and the diversification of the colonial economy, led to a rise in coercion in labor relations during the seventeenth century. To investigate this, The lecture will focus on the transformation of old forms of organization and the emergence of new coercive configurations, particularly the "servicio personal" (personal service) and its variations in the Viceroyalty of Peru (present-day Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, and Ecuador).

Children at Work, in a Period of Transition, 400-1000 AD
Aug 29, 2023 from 09:30 to 07:00

A comparative conference, organized by Heinz Heinen Fellow Christian Laes, that will enable the audience to pay attention to voices often unheard, in language traditions often unknown, and therefore underexplored. Drawing on the expertise of scholars in ‘less studied languages’ (Armenian, Coptic, Ge’ez, Georgian, Turkish, Syriac) for the period concerned.

"Workingman’s Death": Film Screening and Discussion
Aug 03, 2023 from 08:00

"Workingman's Death" is a visually stunning and emotionally resonant documentary that delves into the lives of laborers from different corners of the world. Directed by the Austrian filmmaker Michael Glawogger, the unique approach to storytelling, masterful cinematography, and commitment to capturing the essence of humanity have made "Workingman's Death" an enduring and thought-provoking piece of cinema. Glawogger takes viewers on an odyssey that exposes the harsh realities faced by laborers in five distinct locations: the coal mines of Ukraine, the sulfur mines in Indonesia, the ship-breaking yards in Pakistan, the slaughterhouses in Nigeria, and the steelworks in China. The film confronts the disturbing aspects of these workers' lives, exploring human perseverance in the face of extreme hardship. Don't miss the after-screening discussion & reception with BCDSS PhD researcher Ayesha Hussain, led by Cécile Jeblawei (BCDSS) and Sigrid Limprecht (Kino in der Brotfabrik).

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Louise C. de Mello
Jul 24, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

How did the violent process of defining national territories and borders in the Amazon during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries contribute to the expansion of commodity frontiers like rubber, gold, and oil? This lecture focuses on the intersection of racial and labor relations during the rubber frontier's expansion in southwest Amazonia in the early twentieth century. It examines labor coercion and enslavement in the Guaporé Valley, Brazil-Bolivia border, using firsthand accounts and indigenous perspectives. By considering the spatial and temporal dimensions of labor commodification, this talk aims to contribute to discussions on labor relations during the rubber boom and the persistence of coerced labor in post-abolition Brazil's capitalist development in the Amazon.

Friday Seminar with Thiago Sapede
Jul 21, 2023 from 01:00 to 02:30

This week, our fellow Thiago Sapede is looking forward to a lively discussion of and feedback on his project "The muleke (“Church slaves”) in the 18th and 19th Centuries Kingdom of Kongo”. This presentation analyzes the complex role and status of the mulekes (“Church slaves”) in 18th and 19th century Kingdom of Kongo. The mulekes played a prominent role in Kongo catholic missions, working in the catholic convents in mbanzas (towns) and following European missionaries to the voyages throughout the country. These characters will reveal interesting clues to Central African forms of slavery and their intersection with European-colonial forms of dependency. PS: Please note that the seminar will be from 13:00 - 14:30 CET instead of the usual 16:00 - 17:30 CET. Please make sure to adjust your schedule accordingly.

Colonial Traces in the Botanical Gardens: Tour & Discussion
Jul 20, 2023 from 05:00 to 07:30

Discover a fascinating journey through time from Titan Arum to Giant Water Lilies, Cocoa to Tea – the history of botanical gardens and the scientific exploration of plant life is closely intertwined with colonial times, a historical aspect often forgotten today. The Botanical Gardens of the University of Bonn also hold colonial traces, as evident in the famous Titan Arum. Max Koernicke brought it to Bonn from Indonesia in 1934, funded by a scholarship from the former Reich Colonial Office, advocating for Germany to expand its colonial territories. During the garden tour, Dr. Cornelia Löhne, Scientific Director of the Botanical Gardens, and Dr. Karin Ladenburger, Green School, will highlight and explain these connections to colonialism, reflecting on their impact on today's society. Join the discussion afterward with Dr. Cornelia Löhne and Paulina Saerbeck from the initiative 'Bonn Postkolonial,' moderated by Alma Hannig, Collection Coordinator of the University of Bonn.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Anna Guiteras Mombiola
Jul 17, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

How did Bolivian Amazonia's integration into the international economy in the mid-nineteenth century lead to exploitative labor practices? This lecture explores the recruitment of workers, particularly indigenous populations, and reveals the various methods employed, ranging from voluntary recruitment to forced labor and debt peonage. These practices often resembled a form of "slavery" characterized by varying degrees of arbitrariness and violence. Despite initial legislation aimed at protecting workers, it didn't take long for the interests of economic agents to influence the implementation of labor contracting laws. Consequently, a convergence of public and private interests emerged, enabling the abuse and exploitation of different ethnic groups. This lecture also examines how the erratic enforcement of labor laws and the dominance of Creole society contributed to this exploitation, ultimately leading to labor practices that persisted well into the twentieth century.

Workshop "Beyond Slavery and Freedom in the Ancient Near East"
Jul 17, 2023 from 02:30 to 06:00

Join the workshop "Beyond Slavery and Freedom in the Ancient Near East", organized by BCDSS Postdoctoral Researcher Vitali Bartash at the 68th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, University of Leiden. The workshop addresses the social groups in the ancient Near East that were not slaves but whose freedom was strongly restricted by law, economic conditions, patronage, religious institutions and other factors. Contributions highlight the differences between these groups from citizens with full rights, on the one hand, and from slaves, on the other. Why, how, and on whom were they strongly dependent? Finally, the papers find out if there were ways out of these dependent statuses.

Friday Seminar with Justin Roberts
Jul 14, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

This week, our fellow Justin Roberts is looking forward to a lively discussion of and feedback on his project “Fragile Empire: Slavery in the Early English Tropics, 1645-1720.” As a framework, the global tropics offers us a new way of thinking about the origins of slavery in the English empire. The English took advantage of a wide variety of bondage systems to support their commercial and territorial expansion in the global tropics. By the 1680s, one variant of racial slavery had outcompeted other forms of bondage within the empire. It was marked by its permanence, its heritability, its impermeable boundaries, and its distinct brutality. It was associated with the tropical zone. The dominance of this genus of bondage shaped the ongoing threats of insurrection and invasion in England’s expanding tropical empire.

Dependencies in South Asia and its global connections
Jul 14, 2023 09:15 to Jul 15, 2023 07:30

This workshop considers how unequal social and labor relations were entangled with notions of difference between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. Across South Asia during this period, articulations of difference – expressed across multiple registers of discourse and practice – produced and sustained asymmetrical relations and networks of dependencies. Through exploring the interplay of these factors during this period, as well as potential connections or disjunctures with prior and subsequent eras, the workshop hopes to contribute towards developing a comparative framework across distinct contexts from Mughal North India to Portuguese Goa to the Deccan under Maratha rule. Participants will examine how social categories such as caste, gender, origin, and ethnicity intersected with relations of slavery, servitude, and/or service, looking at examples such as military labor, domestic service, and corvée labor.

Panel discussion "Colonial traces in Bonn"
Jul 12, 2023 from 06:00 to 07:30

Join the panel discussion "Colonial Traces in Bonn - the Long Road to a New Culture of Remembrance?" organized by Fernuni Hagen. Prof. Dr. Stephan Conermann will be speaking on behalf of the BCDSS and University of Bonn. The event will be held in German. What is colonial in the city of Bonn? Which traces can still be found today, how are they dealt with in society, politics, media and research? Especially recently, civil society, the university and municipal institutions have formulated more advanced approaches and debates that challenge familiar images of history. Does this only add to the generally known urban history or does it lay a completely new, postcolonial foundation for an inclusive culture of memory? Please register by July 11, 2023 at:

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Alice Rio
Jul 10, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

What were the connections between the large-scale slave trade spanning Europe and the changing profiles of slavery during the eighth to tenth centuries AD? This lecture explores the interregional slave trade that connected Ireland to Bukhara and traversed the Mediterranean, Baltic, and Europe. Recent research has revised earlier estimates, highlighting the quantitative significance of this trade. Additionally, the lecture examines the evolving nature of slavery and slave labor within the regions affected by the trade, emphasizing the link between these two phenomena.

Wissenschaftsfestival 2023
Jul 09, 2023 from 12:00 to 06:00

Join us for this year’s Wissenschaftsfestival, the University of Bonn's Science Festival! With a diverse program for all ages, the university's vice-rectorates, six transdisciplinary research areas, and excellence clusters will showcase their work. All students, university members, and citizens of the region are invited to come together and enjoy this day while experiencing science up close! In addition to an exciting stage program, there will be a family science rally, and many exciting hands-on activities for all age groups. The BCDSS will offer a “pop-up lesson” on child labor, its history and engaging activities like weaving against the clock. We look forward to seeing you, your families, and friends!

Friday Seminar with Matthew Dziennik
Jul 07, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

This week, our fellow Matthew Dziennik is looking forward to a lively discussion of and feedback on his project “Soldiers, Slavery, and Dependence in West Africa, c. 1750‒1850.” Between c. 1750 and c. 1850, British authority in West Africa and the wider Atlantic World rested on the labor of enslaved African soldiers. This presentation analyzes British efforts to recruit manpower as a window into slavery, dependence, and imperialism in the Age of Revolutions. It reveals the often counterintuitive ways in which assumptions about slavery and dependence were inverted by efforts to recruit and deploy soldiers.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by J. Nicholas Reid
Jul 03, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

In 2008, Joseph C. Miller explored the historical process of slaving, aiming to understand why people repeatedly engaged in this strategy throughout history. He criticized Orlando Patterson's definition of slavery as it limited slaves to rebelling against their masters. Instead, Miller believed historians should recognize the vitality and humanity of slaves. Building on Miller's approach, this lecture examines imprisonment as a historical process, focusing on ancient Mesopotamia. It seeks to understand who imprisoned, for what reasons, and in what contexts. Just like slaving, imprisonment took various forms throughout history. The lecture emphasizes the importance of considering personhood when studying prisons and prisoners by examining early historical records related to imprisonment.

Friday Seminar with Karolyne Moreira and Mauro Manhanguele
Jun 30, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

Karolyne M. Moreira, “Incarnated spirits: ’sorcery’, mutual dependencies and normative production in southern Mozambique (1890–1940)”: In this talk, Karolyne focuses on presenting the normativity of sorcery as a language of power. She seeks to demonstrate how Portuguese colonial policies around ‘sorcery’ and local social discourses around belief in spells both resulted in the establishment of mutual, yet deeply asymmetrical, dependencies. Mauro Manhanguele, “Language, power and mutual dependencies: Interpreters and justice administration in Colonial Mozambique, 1895-1974”: This study seeks to understand the role played by African interpreters in the colonial administration and justice system. By focusing on the case of Mozambique, it assumes that these agents not only participated in the creation of colonial law but also produced it.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Manuela Boatcă
Jun 26, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

The Roma's enslavement in Romania for over 500 years has often been overlooked in discussions about the legacies of slavery and racial discrimination. The Orthodox Church and the Ottoman Empire played significant roles in this form of enslavement and racialization. By studying these lesser-known actors and adopting a global perspective, we can connect the histories of various European enslavements and understand their ongoing effects. Unfortunately, Europe's recognition of racism and slavery tends to be limited to the Holocaust and the transatlantic slave trade, disregarding the Roma's experiences. This omission can be attributed to an Occidentalist mindset that associates Europeanness with whiteness and marginalizes non-white populations and their histories.

Friday Seminar with Emma Christopher and Bryce Beemer
Jun 23, 2023 from 04:00 to 06:00

This week, our guests Emma Christopher (University of New South Wales, Australia) and Bryce Beemer (Duke Kunshan University, China) are looking forward to a lively discussion of and feedback on their respective projects. (1) Emma Christopher, “’The Territory is Life’: Slavery, Freedom and the Fight for Survival in the Río Yurumanguí, Colombia”: This paper explores a community that has fought for its territory for 400 years through slavery and into legal freedom, eventually gaining collective land rights in May 2000, but remains in an often deadly fight over it. (2) Bryce Beemer, “Creolization Theory and Southeast Asia: Slavery and Cultural Exchange in Precolonial Burma, c. 1750-1850”: Creolization theory beneficially illuminates the agentive power of the enslaved in processes of culture building and community reinvention. This discussion will engage the potential benefits and pitfalls of adapting creolization theory to the Southeast Asian context.

Revisiting Black Radical Histories Across the Atlantic
Jun 22, 2023 from 06:15

Throughout modern history, Black writers and activists – George Padmore, Shirley Graham Du Bois, and May Ayim – have pursued radical projects pointing out the lack of basic human rights of marginalized communities. In this talk, Tiffany N. Florvil argues that these individuals and others have drawn upon their cross-cultural experiences to highlight how the intersecting oppressions of racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism have persisted throughout the twentieth century. Traversing geographical and aesthetic boundaries, these activists and intellectuals advocated for civil, social, and political change in their respective countries and beyond, advancing a cosmopolitan ethos that allowed them to offer new forms of knowledge and instigate change.

Workshop: Global Voyages, Local Sites
Jun 20, 2023 09:00 to Jun 21, 2023 07:00

"Global Voyages, Local Sites: The Long Shadow of Atlantic Slavery in the Anglo-American and German Pacific" workshop brings together renowned scholars working in the fields of Slavery Studies, Labor Studies, Colonialism and Museum Studies. It explores the legacies of Atlantic slavery through the British Empire’s movement of people, money, and expertise from the Caribbean to Queensland, the American movement west to the islands of Samoa, and how these processes interacted with German colonial endeavors in the Pacific. It intends to form a framework with which to expand the disciplinary boundaries of slavery studies and rethink the legacies and impacts of U.S. and Caribbean practices of slaving and processes of racialization that emerged in the context of imperial endeavors in the Pacific. In addition to historians’ approaches, we would also like to address how the topics and discourses outlined above impact contemporary attempts of decolonizing museums and collections.

Friday Seminar with Roberto Hofmeister Pich
Jun 16, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

This week, Roberto Hofmeister Pich (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), Brazil) is looking forward to a lively discussion of and feedback on his talk “Restitution of What? Characterizing Discourses on Abolition of Black Slavery, Guilt, and Reparation in Latin American History”. The lecture focuses on philosophical and theological literature, by Iberian and Latin American authors, from the 17th to the 19th century, that provide normative evaluations of transatlantic slave trade and slavery in colonial societies. The main idea is to characterize the initial perception of guilt and the need of reparation towards enslaved Africans in 17th-century literature on the subject and how in 19th-century discourses on abolition, especially in Brazil, an articulated account of "restitution" is basically a missing item.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Claudia Jarzebowski
Jun 12, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

What did a life under the circumstances of enslavement and strong asymmetrical dependency do to children? What were the effects and how are they to be traced and understood? This lecture discusses the interconnectedness of Slavery and Dependency Studies when considered from children’s perspectives, following the approach of Trauma Studies, a branch largely ignored by historians of premodernity

International Workshop on Romani Asymmetrical Dependencies
Jun 06, 2023 09:30 to Jun 07, 2023 02:30

The International Workshop on Romani Asymmetrical Dependencies is dedicated to exploring asymmetrical relations and understanding co-dependencies between Romani populations and host societies within European socio-political context, in the long period between the 14th century and present day. In utilizing the formula ‘Romani Asymmetrical Dependencies’, the workshop intends to examine (in)effective mechanisms of social incorporation of the Roma, with a special interest and attention to the assessment and interpretation of their influence in local cultures as well as their role in the formation of collective identities (social, religious, political, national). Key topics of this event concern the societal, occupational and symbolic circumstances which have shaped the experiences of one of the oldest transnational minorities in the continent.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Dr. Enrique Martino
Jun 05, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

What are the challenges of accurately measuring import and export prices in West and Central Africa from the 15th century to the First World War? Our next Lecture will discuss what must be considered to address larger questions about economic exchanges in Africa and the important role of Gulf of Guinea.

Friday Seminar with Rafaël Thiébaut
May 26, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

This week, BCDSS fellow Rafaël Thiébaut is looking forward to a lively discussion and feedback on his project “Unfree Labour in the Southwest Indian Ocean (17th-19th Centuries).” This talk analyses different forms of bondage labor through the case study of the Southwestern Indian Ocean: Madagascar with Comoros & Mascarenes. Thanks to the use of quantitative and qualitative archival material, Rafaël will place the micro-histories of the individual slave in the larger context of the developments in the Modern Age, especially in relation to a European interference over time and space. This will pave the way to a better understanding of the phenomenon and make it possible to place it in a larger global context.

Panel discussion "Diversity in German Academia"
May 23, 2023 from 05:00 to 07:00

In our panel discussion “Diversity in German Academia - A Reflective Look at the Current State”, scholars and activists will take stock of how German universities and research institutions currently attend to the matter of equal opportunities and diversity. The panel discussion is designed to provide a space for the exchange of experience and knowledge: panelists will critically consider measures and processes of change within institutions and reflect on how to further strengthen diversity awareness. The discussion will also be opened up to address questions from the audience. The panel is organized by the Equal Opportunity and Diversity Unit and the BCDSS; it is part of this year’s Germany-wide Diversity Days (23-24 May 2023) at Bonn University, organized for the second time by the Pro-Rectorate for Equal Opportunities and Diversity.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Uroš Matić
May 22, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

What was the gender structure of war and violence during the Napatan and Meroitic periods? Our upcoming Lecture focuses on the gender background of war, including the lists of spoils of war, the representation of women and children as prisoners of war, the feminization of enemies in royal texts, and the participation of royal women in conflicts.

Public narratives of history: Indigenous & Afro-Brazilian slavery
May 22, 2023 01:00 to May 24, 2023 07:00

The institution of slavery lasted more than three centuries in Brazil, the last country to abolish black slavery in the Americas in 1888. This event aims to bring together some of the central debates on the cultural heritage of Afro-descendant slavery in Brazil, and a critical novelty is to propose the analysis of the intersections with the cultural heritage of indigenous slavery. The Brazilian academy is just beginning to explore these possible connections, and the event can be an essential contribution to the debate on the cultural heritage of slavery at the international level by bringing new perspectives. In this sense, the Conference brings together researchers and activists to debate topics on the intersections in the cultural heritage of indigenous and Afro-Brazilian slavery at parties, in the discussion of the last Constitution, in teaching, in filmic narratives, in museums and the politics of Repair.

Friday Seminar with Mònica Ginés-Blasi
May 12, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

This week, Mònica Ginés-Blasi, Marie Sklodowska Curie Action Fellow at the Institut d’Asie Orientale of the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon (2022-24) and former BCDSS Fellow, will discuss her project “Trading Chinese Migrants: Networks of Human Trafficking in Treaty Port China (1830-1930s).” This presentation will suggest a comprehensive view of the so-called “coolie trade”, which was an international imperial enterprise central to the Western incursion in China, and it involved strong and peripheral Western nations alike, becoming the single most transversal item of interest of Western imperial colonialism in the nineteenth century. To support this wide understanding of the coolie trade, Mònica will focus on four case studies to challenge the established views in the historiography which situate the trade mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, within a defined chronology – from 1847 to 1874 – and which portray “coolies” as mostly male and adult, as well as generically Chinese.

Joseph C. M. Memorial Lecture by Zhanna Popova
May 08, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

What kind of agency did women inmates have in the forced labor camps in the Soviet Union, and how did they experience it? Based on lesser-known memoirs of women inmates, our upcoming Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture will examine the constrained agency that they still retained.

Friday Seminar with Marçal de Menezes Paredes
May 05, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

In this Friday Seminar session, Marçal de Menezes Paredes, Associate Professor at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS), Brazil, is looking forward to a lively discussion of and feedback on his project “From Supporters to Cooperants: regarding the Canadian Toronto Committee for the Liberation of Southern Africa (TCLSAC) in its relationship with FRELIMO in Mozambique in the 1970s.” The presentation will present a historical overview of this transnational activity that connected the Global North and South and fostered commitment among comrades and cooperants. For a more detailed description, please see the abstract attached. To register, please drop an email entitled "Friday Fellows Seminar" with your name and the date of the seminar to Laura Hartmann.

Friday Seminar with Raquel Sirotti
Apr 28, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

This week, Raquel R. Sirotti, BCDSS research group leader and postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory in Frankfurt, Germany, discusses her project "Mutual Dependencies and Normative Production in Africa." The presentation will approach the concept of mutual dependencies and argue that it can be a useful tool for understanding the production of law in colonial contexts. Using as examples the case studies developed in the junior research group Mutual Dependencies and Normative Production in Africa, I will suggest that the interaction, recognition, and even creation of local intermediaries by colonial agents implied mutual transformations of traditional and state authorities. The actions of these individuals not only contributed to the construction of hybrid models of colonial rule in Africa, but also shaped the regulation of indigenous labour exploitation and the mechanisms of punishment and social control of local populations.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Christian Langer
Apr 24, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

Forced migration and compulsory foreign labour in the rise of Egypt as a regional great power and cultural powerhouse? Connecting with research on contemporary uneven geographical development, this talk problematizes ancient Egyptian foreign policy and labour policies about their neighbouring societies.

Friday Seminar with Stephan Conermann
Apr 21, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

In this week’s seminar, Stephan Conermann will throw some light on the question “How and Where to Apply for Funding?” and talk about the German funding systems and opportunities.

Joseph C. M. Memorial Lecture by Décio Muianga & Diogo Oliveira
Apr 17, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

New perspectives on the past slave trade activities and its impacts in Mozambique: Understanding this process through archaeological (terrestrial and maritime), historical and anthropological research that is bringing to light a complex body of knowledge about slavery in this section of southern East Africa

Friday Seminar with Carolina González
Apr 14, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

This week, Carolina González is looking forward to a lively discussion of and feedback on her presentation, "’With her personal service’: Domestic work, manumission and judicial records. Enslaved and freed women in colonial Chile". This presentation describes the uses of justice by enslaved people in colonial Chile and focuses on the relationship between the so-called “domestic work- affective labor” and the forms of self manumission of enslaved-freed women, especially in Santiago city between 1770-1823.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Victoria Basualdo
Apr 03, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

Latin American dictatorships in the mid-twentieth century: How connected were they with the economic, social and labor struggle? This lecture will mainly analyze the case of Argentina, and the repression carried out by military forces in conjunction with business sectors against labor in the last dictatorship, from 1976 to 1983.

International Conference
Mar 29, 2023 02:30 to Mar 31, 2023 05:00

Competing Memories: The Politics of Remembering Enslavement, Emancipation and Indentureship in the Caribbean

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Lara Putnam
Mar 27, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

This talk seeks to advance critical dialogue about historians’ choices of topic, sources, and methods, asking what kinds of silences become systematic in our accounts of post-emancipation labor migration, and why. As an evidentiary base for raising these questions, the paper draws on judicial records from late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Greater Caribbean migratory destinations including Venezuela, Panama, and Costa Rica.

Friday Seminar with Julie Miller
Mar 24, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

This week, Julie Miller is looking forward to a lively discussion of and feedback on her presentation, “A History of the Person in America.” Her book-in-progress explores expressions of the idea of a "person" in American politics from the drafting of the U.S. Constitution to the Civil War. This presentation will offer a brief introduction to the project while lingering a bit on the questions, historiographies, and sources that inspired it. Event registration via email (s. below)

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Nitin Varma
Mar 20, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

Dr. Nitin Varma will unwrap biographies of servitude, drawing upon a range of legal and ego documents from nineteenth-century northern India. Based on a “microhistorical” methodological approach, he will reconstruct the life trajectories of individuals who worked as domestic servants in Anglo-Indian households.

CANCELLED Friday Seminar with John Agbonifo
Mar 17, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

In this Friday Seminar, Heinz Heinen Kolleg Fellow John Agbonifo will speak on his research project “Neither Slave nor Free Labour? Understanding Labour Relations between Monarchy and the Bronze Guild in Ancient Benin Empire”. More information tba.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Larissa Rosa Corrêa
Mar 13, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

Prof. Larissa Rosa Corrêa, of Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, examines the development of labor laws in Brazil from the 1930s. When the Brazilian labor code was established in 1941. it did not include rural and domestic workers. They were left vulnerable to human rights violations and various forms of precarious work and serfdom. Prof. Corrêa will look into how these two groups learned to use the language of labor rights and developed repertoires of action that allowed them to strive for their rights and equal conditions compared to urban and industrial workers. These struggles were fundamental for citizenship and the formation of social classes in Brazil.

Friday Seminar with Hillary Taylor
Mar 10, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

For this week's Friday Seminar, Heinrich Heinen Kolleg Fellow Hillary Taylor discusses her project “Violence at Work in Early Modern Britain and its Overseas Territories”. This presentation will consider violence and labour discipline in Britain and the British Atlantic, c. 1550-1800. Among other topics, it will examine ‘employers’ commentaries on the relative utility of using violence to manage and discipline workers; how various categories of workers responded to such violence; and how the legal system mediated these aspects of labour relations.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Johannes Preiser-Kapeller
Mar 06, 2023 from 04:15 to 06:00

What impact did the First Plague Pandemic have on mobilizations of military and civil labor? At our next JCMM Lecture, Johannes Preiser-Kapeller, of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, will examine this interplay in mid-eighth century CE western Afroeurasia.

Friday Seminar with Stephan Conermann
Mar 03, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

This week, Stephan Conermann is looking forward to a lively general discussion of labor-related asymmetrical dependencies and mobility. Research Area D explores workers’ practices for coping with dependency, for reducing the degree of coercion and for expanding their own autonomy. By looking at (a) individual and collective everyday practices, (b) organizations, (c) relationships with institutions (e.g. the use of laws and norms), and (d) anti-systemic practices, Research Area D will make it possible to map dependency on an alternative scale, between autonomy and coercion, and to increase the awareness of the dependents’ scope of action and their options for social mobility. Against this backdrop, the two attached texts will be discussed.

Friday Seminar with Sara Eriksson
Feb 24, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

This time, PhD Guest Researcher (University of California, Berkeley) Sara Eriksson will present her research project "The Average Person – Looking for Enslaved Labor at Hellenistic Kalaureia".

Viola Müller to attend the Kinderuni!
Feb 13, 2023 from 05:00 to 06:00

On February 13, 2023, Dr. Viola Müller will represent the BCDSS at the Kinderuni, where she will give a lecture on the History of Sugar. Abstract: Sugar is in chocolate, cola, gummy bears, and adults use it to sweeten their coffee. It also hides in yogurt, tomato sauce, and chips. Sugar is everywhere. But has it always been around? Where does it come from? Did it always look the same? Who made it in the past, and who is making it today? Dive into the history of sugar!

Friday Seminar with Christian Laes
Feb 10, 2023 from 04:00 to 05:30

This week, Christian Laes is looking forward to a lively discussion of and feedback on his presentation “Writing the histories of slavery in Antiquity. How to go forward?” After a brief overview of the study of slavery in the ancient world, he will point out possible paths for the future: renewed attention to Late Antiquity and the transition period between Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and the promising topic of agency.

Launch of the Library of Ancient Slavery
Jan 18, 2023 from 04:15 to 07:00

One of the largest libraries on ancient slavery in the world with its rich holdings has moved from the Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature to the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies. Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature has a long standing tradition of research on slavery in the ancient Mediterranean. More than forty volumes were published on numerous facets of the subject. In addition, a comprehensive encyclopaedia on ancient slavery was compiled by researchers from all over the world. Over the course of sixty years, the prolific research output at the Mainz Academy had led to the formation of this special and comprehensive library. It can be considered one of the largest libraries on ancient slavery in the world. To celebrate the opening of the library, we are inviting you to join our LIBRARY LAUNCH on Wednesday, 18 January, 2023, from 16:15-19:00 CET at Heussallee 16-19, 53111 Bonn. The event will be held in German. All welcome!

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Claudia Jarzebowski
Dec 12, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

What did a life under the circumstances of enslavement and strong asymmetrical dependency do to children? What were the effects and how are they to be traced and understood? This lecture discusses the interconnectedness of Slavery and Dependency Studies when considered from children’s perspectives, following the approach of Trauma Studies, a branch largely ignored by historians of premodernity

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Thomas Duve
Dec 05, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

The lecture will discuss the still emerging field of global legal history and provides an approach to legal history that draws on the history of knowledge and summarizes some of the reflections on how to analyze asymmetrical dependencies from a legal historical perspective.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Alexander Keese
Nov 28, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

European colonialism in sub-Saharan Africa relied (at least before the end of the Second World War) upon mechanisms of labour exploitation through forced labour. The Portuguese colonial empire was a notorious part of these experiences. African colonial subjects were by no means passive victims of these practices: especially, running away from labour obligations was very common, and sometimes whole groups and villages were fleeing into remote regions or beyond colonial borders. This was a mighty form of response (or resistance), but it also presented many problems: flight destabilised rural societies, and those who stayed were at risk to suffer punishment. Moreover, little has been said on what runaways and refugees encountered in their new environments.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Johannes Rainer
Nov 21, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

The major question will be how enfranchised slaves, the so called freedmen, could acquire the Roman citizenship. In order to understand the dynamics and different phases of the Roman citizenship an important introduction to the general rules of citizenship will be put at the beginning of the lecture. In this context a major attention must be paid to the status of the Latini and the legal rules regulating their status from the Republic to the Principate. Important legislative measures under Augustus (Lex Aelia Sentia) and Tiberius (Lex Iunia Norbana) created a new category of Latins, the Latini Aeliani and the Latini Iuniani. The lecture will explain their legal position and show in which way and under which circumstances they were able to become Roman citizens.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Timothy J. Coates
Oct 31, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

The town of Castro Marim in Portugal was a legal haven and later the site of internal exile for several thousand minor sinners and convicts from the Middle Ages until the first decades of the nineteenth century. Later, courts of the Inquisition and the state sent those convicted of minor offences to reside in the town, typically for periods of two to four years. Faced with the punishment of long-term obligatory residence, these newcomers had little choice but to engage in the economic activities around them: chiefly in salt extraction, fishing, boat building, agriculture, and smuggling. As a result, this use of exile to Castro Marim is more than a micro-history of a small town. It is a vivid example of social control as practiced by courts of the Church and state. It is also an example of the limitations of early modern royal authority.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by João Fragoso & Thiago Krause
Oct 24, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

In the next Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture on October 24, João Fragoso and Thiago Krause will do a comparative analysis of the two largest slaving ports in the Americas, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, discussing their roles in the history of the Atlantic slave trade, and the similarities and the differences in their historical trajectories.

Socare Junior Conference 2022
Oct 20, 2022 03:00 to Oct 22, 2022 09:00

Whose knowledge is recognized, and what voices are heard within Caribbean studies? This conference focuses on how knowledge is produced, shared, and received, and on what changes are needed to ensure that power is shared, while epistemic differences are included and valued.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Stefanie Hunt-Kennedy
Oct 10, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

This talk derives from Stefanie Hunt-Kennedy’s award-winning book, Between Fitness and Death: Disability and Slavery in the Caribbean (University of Illinois Press, 2020), which explores the historical relationship between disability, antiblack racism, and slavery in the British Caribbean and the Atlantic World from the 16th to the abolition of the slave trade in the early 19th century. This talk will illustrate the integral role of Caribbean enslaved laborers to our understandings of labor, disability, and modernity and that Caribbean plantation slavery should be considered among one of history’s most disabling systems of exploitation. Lastly, it demonstrates that the study of disability in the context of Atlantic slavery engenders possibilities to read disability among the enslaved in multiple ways, not only as a sign of victimization and ‘lack,’ but of power and possibility.

International Conference: Social History of Capitalism
Oct 10, 2022 03:00 to Oct 12, 2022 04:00

The International Social History Association (ISHA), the Bonn Centre for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS), and the Cluster of Excellence “Contestations of the Liberal Script” convene the International Conference “Social History of Capitalism”. If you wish to participate in the conference, please send an email by 5 October 2022 to and indicate if you wish to participate online or in person. The conference will be held on zoom.

Conference on "Freedom and Liberation in Mediterranean Antiquity“
Oct 05, 2022 to Oct 08, 2022

We invite you to join our international conference on "Freedom and Liberation in Mediterranean Antiquity", which aims to contribute to a closer analysis and understanding of terminology, narratives, and concepts of freedom and liberation in their respective discursive, cultural, and institutional contexts. Thus it should contribute to a more nuanced understanding of what is called in the Cluster nomenclatura “strong asymmetrical dependencies”, their complements and opposites.

Conference: Transforming Spirit Bodies
Sep 29, 2022 02:00 to Sep 30, 2022 04:00

This conference focuses on the bodies and embodiments of spirits, their (im-)materialities, and the bodily transformations, which they may be subject to in different socio-cultural contexts. It draws attention to the embodied experiences of asymmetrical dependencies among humans and spirits and to how the sensory experiences of interdependence are negotiated in their interactions.

Annual Conference “Norms, Institutions & Practices of Dependency"
Sep 21, 2022 09:00 to Sep 22, 2022 08:00

Since 2018, the Bonn Center of Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS) unites internationally renowned scholars researching historic forms of strong asymmetrical dependencies. The current academic year at the BCDSS (2021/22) is dedicated to “Norms, Institutions, and Practices of Dependency”. The end of this period will be marked by an international conference which aims at evaluating the role of institutional regulations and normative concepts in forming and perpetuating relations of asymmetrical dependencies. To this end, a variety of legal texts, sacred codes, or case studies will be examined for normative conceptions of servitude, dependency, and unfreedom, and for resulting practices of enforcing, subverting, or interpreting them. The conference will consist of an opening lecture on the theory of asymmetrical dependency and altogether three panels which focus on different aspects of the topic.

Cancelled: Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Stefan Talmon
Sep 12, 2022 from 04:00 to 06:00

We regret to say that this lecture was cancelled. It will be re-scheduled in due course. Sorry for any inconvenience! The lecture traces public international law’s response to the international slave trade and modern slavery from the early seventeenth century to the present day. It will be shown that each step of the formal outlawing of these practices was met by new forms of forced labour. It will be argued that collective enforcement was an effective approach to suppress the slave trade. However, the same cannot be said about the creation of state obligations to suppress slavery and forced labour or for a human rights-based approach to these practices.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Kristalyn Shefveland
Jul 25, 2022 from 04:00 to 06:00

In the late seventeenth century, Virginia colonist Edmund Scarburgh and his mistress Ann Toft owned and sold many Native laborers as indentured servants and slaves. A man of great ambition, Scarburgh engaged in economic activities throughout the Chesapeake, New England, New York, the Netherlands, and England. His occupations included county burgess, surveyor-general (1655-1670), amateur physician, maritime shipping and trade, the production of goods, namely tobacco and salt, and the brokering of Native laborers. All told, Scarburgh held 75,000 total acres of land and innumerable tithable English, African, and Native servants and slaves. By understanding the types of labor and the economic activities of the Scarburgh and Toft plantations, this lecture will address the importance of Native labor to the early Virginia plantation economy and examine the personal and professional relationship of Toft and Scarburgh, power brokers of the Eastern Shore.

Joseph C. Miller Lecture by Alexander Geurds
Jul 18, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

Archaeological views onto the later pre-Columbian past of southern Central America –roughly defined as including Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, but also merging into Colombia – have struggled to connect with more generalized understandings of early leadership, including prevalent models from neighbouring Mesoamerica. Various studies argue for chiefly authority in the area, while others emphasize more heterarchical, collective forms of leadership. A central tenet across these debates often is the role of gifting and the movement of prestige items. Regarding asymmetrical dependency, case material resides in the presence of large public works, prominently including the creation and maintenance of ceremonial centres across the area and various other expressions of group effort, for example, the sculpting of stone statuary. A significant portion of sculptures also alludes to practices of raiding, head-hunting, & bodily submission.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Mark Hauser
Jul 11, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

Extreme weather events, changing precipitation, and sea-level rise have made thosecliving in the global north more mindful of the vulnerability of lives and livelihoodscdue to climate change. For centuries, people living on Caribbean islands, particularly those who are most economically and politically vulnerable, have been at the forefront of solving climate problems, including agricultural precarity, water resource management, and forced migration. Eighteenth-century sugar cultivation made everyday life more precarious for enslaved laborers, Kalinago, and smallholders, especially with regard to issues of subsistence, land, and its resources. Sugar cane had a detrimental effect on soil and water availability. Plantation economies led to forced migration and conscription of people to and from Dominica as planters attempted to meet labor needs and cut costs when markets faltered.

New Perspectives on Cultural Heritage and German Global History
Jul 06, 2022 03:55 to Jul 08, 2022 03:55

Conference on July 6–8, 2022 at the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies organized by Claudia Jarzebowski, BCDSS, and Pia Wiegmink, BCDSS, Susanne Lettow (FU Berlin) and Heike Raphael-Hernandez (University of Würzburg). Check out Jennifer Morgan's Keynote Speech "The Measure of their Sadness: Slavery, Kinship and the Marketplace in the Early Black Atlantic" on YouTube.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Thomas Pierson
Jul 04, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:15

Public servants are not ordinary employees. Their relationship to the modern state is special. According to prevailing opinion, this special relation influences rights and duties in the public employment relationship. On an analytical level, it is interesting to see what answers the questions about legal asymmetries and interdependencies reveal about this problem, and conversely, whether the object of investigation can broaden and change the perspectives of the questions associated with the concept. For this purpose, we will attempt a stroll through the history of civil service in the context of state-building, which will examine the particular problems of different epochs more closely. The lecture will show that the narrative of a development from unfree labour to free wage labour can also be refuted in the European context, at least for the public service sector.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture Maren Niehoff
Jun 20, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

This lecture explores to what extent one can discern a concept of personal freedom as a basic right in the first century CE. Philo's tractate "On the Freedom of the Righteous" is of particular importance in this context, as it discusses specific cases of slavery and freedom, sometimes in a metaphorical and sometimes in a literal sense. Moreover, Philo reports that the Essenes, a group of Jewish philosophers in Roman-era Palestine, rejected the idea of slavery on principal grounds and refused to be served. Philo's testimony will be analyzed in detail and compared to the views of other first-century authors.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Finnbar Barry Flood
Jun 13, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

One of the most celebrated extant medieval Arabic manuscripts is an illustrated copy of the Maqāmāt (Assemblies) of Abu Muhmmad al-Qasim ibn ‘Ali al-Hariri (d.516H/1122 CE), a popular text subject to frequent copying. The manuscript in question was produced in 634H/1237 CE, probably in Baghdad. It is often considered the cynosure of a tradition of book painting that flourished in Iraq and Syria during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It is also the most frequently discussed in modern scholarship, for the aesthetic virtue and emotional complexity of its images, the insights they provide into contemporary social life, and for its illustrious afterlifeas a source of inspiration for modernists in the Arab lands.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Chouki el Hamel
May 30, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

This presentation explains how the archives created a wall of silence regarding issues of slavery and race. The archival silence created an intentional gap in the production of history. My previous book 'Black Morocco' was an attempt to place slavery and black Moroccans in the national narrative. It highlighted the black Moroccan heritage in the collective cultural memories. My current project focuses on the agency and resistance of black Moroccans and the insistence of their freedom. I focus on retrieving the archives for historical reparative justice. I intend to bring to light the forces that created maroonage and maintained social and legal identities in Morocco. I will thus examine the historical roots of this marginalized group that led to the present dilemma of racial identity and discrimination in Morocco.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Miles Ogborn
May 23, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

This lecture examines the ways in which Christianity came to define the debate over slavery and freedom – and the nature of the free black subject – in the early nineteenth-century Anglo-Caribbean world. Responding to the movement for the abolition of the slave trade, and the question of slavery’s future, the role of Christianity in the sugar colonies was rethought by both the established church and nonconformist (Baptist and Methodist) missionaries in ways which made religion central to the definition of a shared humanity and to any reconfiguration of rights.

Joseph C. Miller Lecture by Toyin Falola
May 20, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

One of the hallmarks of research is to reflect and inquire into the characteristics of society and broaden the scope of its development. As a result, research cannot be distanced from society’s past; it wears it like a cloak. Colonial history and heritage have had their impacts on research endeavors, and they seem not to have been washed away by time. The systems and remnants of identifiable colonial heritages still seen in African research are many. In this lecture, the most important ones will be discussed & criticized with recommendations provided. Since research must extend the scope of development & inspire it in society, it must be used to redefine how the global world & Africans see Africa. It must be harnessed to show that those who study Africa are capable of era-changing innovations & bringing certain innovative ideas, systems, and inventions from Africa to bear. Research must be used to prove that Africa is not a land of nothingness or of barbarians who beckon for sympathy.

Joseph C. Miller Lecture by Hendrik Hartog
May 16, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

The talk will reflect about the relationships between criminal law & policing, on the one hand, & property law, on the other, focusing on the historical case of Jack Robbins, something of a confidence man as well as a master of advertising. He also focused public attention on “the boy problem,” which was a pervasive and real concern in early twentieth century America. His story offers an interesting counter-narrative to the histories that have been written about Progressive reform & the development of the juvenile court & other carceral reforms of the early twentieth century. In 1914 & 1915, he created “The Boys’ Brotherhood Republic“ in Chicago as an alternative to the reform schools and other juvenile court related institutions of the city. For the next thirty plus years, the BBR would be an institution run by the boys, from which adult control was rejected. Robbins’s critiques & writings offer an early twentieth century preview of arguments of today’s police & prison abolitionists.

Joseph C. Miller Lecture by Adriana Chira
May 09, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

In nineteenth-century Santiago de Cuba, the island of Cuba's radical cradle, Afro-descendant peasants forged freedom and devised their own formative path to emancipation. Drawing on understudied archives, this talk explores a new history of Black rural geography and popular legalism, and offers a new framework for thinking about nineteenth-century Black freedom. Santiago de Cuba's Afro-descendant peasantries did not rely on liberal-abolitionist ideologies as a primary reference point in their struggle for rights. Instead, they negotiated their freedom and land piecemeal, through colonial legal frameworks that allowed for local custom and manumission. They gradually wore down the institution of slavery through litigation and self-purchase. Long before residents of Cuba protested for national independence and island-wide emancipation in 1868, it was Santiago's Afro-descendant peasants who, gradually and invisibly, laid the groundwork for emancipation.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Rafael de Bivar Marquese
May 02, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

The lecture investigates the history of coffee in the longue durée, from its first emergence in the commercial networks of the Ottoman Empire to the world crisis of Atlantic slavery at the end of the 19th century. Within this vast time frame the global circuits of the coffee commodity chain underwent substantive changes. The project explores the multiple combinations of land, labor, capital, and political power involved in the production, circulation, and consumption of coffee. The focus is on the relations between different forms of free and dependent labor mobilized for coffee production in the capitalist world-economy: peasant family organization, slavery, debt bondage, indentured labor, compulsory labor regimes imposed by colonial and national states, sharecropping, and seasonal wage labor. Based on a systematic study of a specific commodity chain, it directly addresses the problem of the structures of asymmetric dependence that evolved in different social orders over time.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Juan Lewis
Apr 25, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

In this lecture I will analyse whether Jesus of Nazareth, his family, and close friends and disciples were slave owners. Most scholars now agree that the emergence and expansion of Christianity did not mean a substantial improvement in the condition of slaves, even if the accommodation of the early Christian churches with the institution of slavery itself is often seen as a contradiction, a dilemma, or a paradox. The emphasis in scholarship, however, is always on Jesus’ followers, rather than on the man himself. In order to reveal whether Jesus may have owned slaves, I will first try to identify which historical Jesus I am talking about. I will then move to whether we can pin down Jesus’ views on slavery from his teachings and parables. Finally, I will discuss Jesus’ social and economic standing and his relationship with real slaves and servants.

Slavery in Africa: Past, Legacies and Present (SLAFCO)
Apr 19, 2022 08:30 to Apr 21, 2022 06:00

The conference is intended to contribute to this assessment of knowledge about slavery in Africa and to take stock of the most recent significant scientific advances. Eight years after the conference "Slavery in Africa: Past, Legacies and Present," (SLAFCO) held at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (Nairobi, 2014), this initiative benefits from the work developed in the European project, "Slavery in Africa: A Dialogue Between Europe and Africa," (SLAFNET, H2020 RISE, 2017-2022), as well as from a scientific ecosystem enriched by several collective initiatives. With an approach promoting interdisciplinary scientific dialogue (history, anthropology, sociology, museology) and dialogue with civil society (through the attendance of anti-slavery associations), the ambition here is to continue efforts to break down barriers between the various regions of the African continent, their historiographies and their stakeholders.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Nabil Matar
Apr 11, 2022 from 05:00 to 06:30

The study of captivity in the early modern Mediterranean has largely relied on European and Ottoman sources. The Arabic archive furnishes further information about captives from the perspective of the multi-religious peoples in regions extending from Morocco to Syria. This paper examines the Arabic accounts of captivity of a Christian from Mount Lebanon, a Jew from Izmir, and numerous Muslims who fell victim to attacks by European and North African pirates.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Paul Lovejoy
Apr 06, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

The lecture will discuss how the construction of open-source relational databases has altered the scholarly study of slavery. Once it was thought that there was a relatively limited number of primary sources for the reconstruction of African history and the formation of the African diaspora outside of Africa. The digital turn has enabled the introduction of vast quantities of primary source material into scholarly discourse, far beyond what was once thought possible. An examination of the websites associated with Walk With Web Inc. demonstrates what is being done, and the possibilities are for further development of digital tools that can organize large quantities of data for purposes of historical reconstruction.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Christine Walker
Apr 04, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

In this talk, Christine Walker discusses her book, Jamaica Ladies: Female Slaveholders and the Creation of Britain’s Atlantic Empire. Jamaica Ladies is the first systematic study of the free and freed women of European, Euro-African, and African descent who perpetuated chattel slavery and reaped its profits. Their actions helped transform Jamaica into the wealthiest slaveholding colony in the Anglo-Atlantic world. Starting in the 1670s, a surprisingly large and diverse group of women helped secure English control of Jamaica and, crucially, aided its developing and expanding slave labour regime by acquiring enslaved men, women, and children to protect their own tenuous claims to status and independence.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Peter Gemeinhardt
Mar 28, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

What has education to do with dependency? In a famous letter, Jerome (d. 419) narrates that, in a dream vision, he was called before Christ and accused of still using ”pagan“ education: ”You are not a Christian but a Ciceronian!“ Why hadn’t Jerome got rid of this heritage? The lecture approaches Christianity and classical (grammatical, rhetorical, philosophical) education from a praxeological point of view: while theologians claimed that Christianity should not use such education, Christian life depended on practices of reading, writing, and speaking. Was such dependency on previous tradition and practice of tradition really inevitable? Did Christianity not get rid of paideia, or did it consciously put it to good use? Struggling with such dependency contributed to a thorough transformation of classical education and enabled Christianity to survive the dramatic changes of its surrounding world.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Johannes Auenmüller
Mar 21, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

The discourse on social relationships in the context of status, prestige and belonging is a key aspect of Pharaonic elite culture. Social relations and hierarchies are not only addressed in texts, but also extensively displayed in visual sources and find ample archaeological representation in tombs, cemeteries, and settlements as well as in the design and layout of these built structures. The talk will explore the major relevant evidence of the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC (such as tomb imagery, necropoleis, stelae, and settlements) as cultural media from a sociological perspective. The presentation will not only illustrate the different modes and forms in which social relationships and dependencies are encoded iconographically and archaeologically, but also address how Pharaonic society understood, modelled, and constructed itself by those means.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Magnus Ressel
Mar 14, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

Giving the order to send out European ships to transport Africans to the Americas was a rather discreet operation that was strongly connected to the perception of the slave trade by its traders via account books and sheets. The effects of bookkeeping on entrepreneurial activities has lately been discussed more intensely: Due to the abstraction and organizational performance of bookkeeping, heterogeneous objects and services were homogenized and transactions got evaluated in monetary terms. Accounting thus contributed to a perception of the economy as a set of components that interacted with each other only via money flows. The resulting detachment of the slave traders from the practical realities of the slave trade was – as shall be argued here – a pillar of the asymmetrical power relation in the transatlantic slave trade. To exemplify this, accounting files of the Belgian slave trade of the 1780s will be presented in detail alongside public writings of the same slave traders.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Tommaso Beggio
Feb 14, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

The so-called servi poenae were slaves subjugated to their legal status as a consequence of a sentence that deprived convicts of their freedom and, at times, their lives (due to capital punishment). Servitus poenae (called “slavery of punishment” by W.W. Buckland, 1908), was not a punishment in itself, but rather a legal situation that led to a state of civil and juridical death, following the physical destruction of the sentenced person in a number of cases. Similarly, those already in slavery could become servi poenae after being sentenced to death.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Caroline Wallis
Jan 31, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

The aim of this talk is to reflect on the consequences of fluctuating levels of asymmetrical dependencies on the symbolic productions of the political and religious elites of early Mesopotamian states (Neo- Assyrian, neo-Babylonian period). Thousands of clay tablets have allowed Assyriologists to examine economic phenomena in Ancient Mesopotamia: the social structures of the economy, the details of agricultural production and animal husbandry, short- and long-distance trade routes, and the dynamics of debts and credits have now been very meticulously studied.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Andrew Wells
Jan 24, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

Animals played a central role in the history of transatlantic slavery that has only recently attracted scholarly interest. Of vital importance to plantation agriculture, animals were also key to other aspects of slavery and the process of enslavement. Horses played a crucial part in the African warfare that supplied slaves and sharks were a useful instrument of terror for the captains of slavers to overawe their crew and human cargo. A small but significant trade in exotic animals, especially birds, was conducted by slave traders in parallel with their main business, and pets were important companions in Britain’s slaveholding colonies for both black and white. Dogs were a source of pleasure as well as workers in their own right: notoriously bred and used to hunt runaway slaves, they also served to combat vermin infestation on cane fields and offered protection from intruders and thieves.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Karen Woods Weierman
Jan 10, 2022 from 04:15 to 06:00

Karen Woods Weierman’s recent book, The Case of the Slave-Child, Med: Free Soil in Antislavery Boston, restores the complicated history of antislavery Boston’s greatest legal victory and most devastating failure. Following a successful freedom suit on her behalf, little Med became a trope, discarded after her test case and forgotten when her death disrupted the triumphalist antislavery narrative. Dr. Weierman’s presentation will discuss the challenge of finding a child in the archives, the power and danger of weaponized white motherhood, and the historical lessons for our fraught cultural moment.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Pamela Crossley
Dec 13, 2021 from 04:15 to 06:00

The vogue for "ethnicity" in many fields of historical study has reified a concept for which there is little direct evidence in the historical record before the twentieth century. The original meanings of "ethnicity" and the terms derived from it encompassed political and social dynamics that have been obscured in many contemporary uses of "ethnicity" in the social sciences. More importantly, the historical phenomena hidden behind ethnicity discourses in historiography appear to be connected to forms of dependency and the affiliation of individuals with them. Using examples mainly but not exclusively from Chinese history, this talk traces the growth of ascriptive power of states from the medieval to modern periods, suggesting that the derivative and synthetic aspects of "ethnicity" discourses might reveal the power and state issues that have generated them.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Girija Joshi
Dec 06, 2021 from 04:00 to 06:00

This talk reflects upon the contested definitions of ‘rightful’ dependency in early nineteenth-century Panjab, focusing specifically upon the overlapping bonds of service, patronage, and kinship that underpinned states in the region. Using a combination of colonial reports, judicial archives, and Indo-Persian accounts, it contrasts the perspectives of three groups of actors—that of the British colonial state, that of local elites in positions of dominance, and that of their clients and tributaries. Building on research from elsewhere in South Asia, it argues that the colonial state’s juridical and administrative practices suggest that its conceptions of what constituted ‘legitimate’ and ‘illegitimate’ dependency were inconsistent, and guided in no small part by the aim of consolidating their hold over the region.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Clara Almagro–Vidal
Nov 29, 2021 from 04:00 to 06:00

The main reason for the existence of military orders was to protect Christendom and contribute to its growth. In the context of the ongoing conflict between Islamic Al-Andalus and the Christian kingdoms in the medieval Iberian Peninsula, they concentrated their efforts on the defence against military aggressions from Muslim armies and on contributing to the territorial expansion of the Christian kingdoms. Military orders were therefore often involved in warfare against Muslims. Beyond these military activities, however, Muslims and military orders often interacted and, while doing so, created asymmetrical bonds of dependence. The aim of this paper is to explore that unevenness, with a special focus on the Muslims who were nominally free. Doing so will shed light on the complexity of the dependency relationships they established with the military orders, and on the interests, limitations, and other factors that shaped them.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Martin Ebner
Nov 22, 2021 from 04:15 to 06:00

In seinem Brief an Philemon setzt sich der Apostel Paulus dafür ein, dass ein Sklave bekommt, was die christliche Taufformel ihm verspricht: „… da ist nicht mehr Sklave noch Freier …“ (Gal 3,28; vgl. 1 Kor 12,13). Die Argumentation und die Metaphern des Briefes sollen daraufhin durchleuchtet werden, wie Paulus Abhängigkeitsstrukturen auf verschiedenen Ebenen gegeneinander ausspielt, um die Beziehung des getauften Sklaven Onesimus zu seinem Herrn Philemon, der ebenfalls Christ ist, entsprechend der christlichen „Ideologie“ zu regulieren. Dabei wird der scheinbar souveräne Sklavenhalter in ein größeres Beziehungsnetz versetzt, das ihn als durchaus nicht unabhängigen „Mitspieler“ zeigt. Besonders großer Druck auf ihn entsteht durch die paradoxe Situation, dass er gerade auf die Beziehung, in der er eine einseitig abhängige Position einnimmt, auf keinen Fall verzichten will.

Humboldt-Kolleg: Slavery, Freedom, Sustainability, and Pandemic
Nov 16, 2021 09:00 to Nov 19, 2021 12:00

The conference "Humboldt-Kolleg: Slavery, Freedom, Sustainability, and Pandemicis" is organized by Roberto Hofmeister Pich and supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Three of our Cluster members Michael Zeuske, Stephan Conermann, and Karoline Noack, will be giving a presentation.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Denis Regnier
Nov 15, 2021 from 04:15 to 06:00

The legacy of slavery is a crucial social issue in some, if not all, Malagasy societies. To understand why this is the case, I argue that we need to analyze the nature and impact of the 1896 colonial abolition in Madagascar. Using as an example the case of the Betsileo, a Malagasy group inhabiting the southern central highlands, I suggest that colonial abolition has had unintended and often overlooked consequences. For most Betsileo, the abolition decree did not have the power of precolonial cleansing rituals, which were performed at the time of manumission and used to reintegrate former slaves into a network of kinsmen or, at the very least, into the wider society of ‘free’ and ‘clean’ men and women. Since these powerful rituals did not take place, the slaves who were liberated by the French could not be cleansed and reintegrated into free society.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Elisabeth Herrmann-Otto
Nov 08, 2021 from 04:15 to 06:15

In theological and historical research, Christian talk of the "slave of God" has so far been understood as a metaphor. Although it was oriented towards the Greco-Roman environment of early Christianity, it seemed to have no further significance for real slavery. Starting from the asymmetrical relationship between God and man in monotheistic religions, I would like to use the supposed interdependence between discourse and reality for my historical research. I wish to pursue the problem of how far dependency relationships like slavery were further entrenched in ancient Christianity, especially in the Christian family.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Marcos Leitão De Almeida
Oct 25, 2021 from 04:00 to 06:00

My work addresses a persistent problem in African history: the deep history of slavery in the Lower Congo region. While historians acknowledge the importance of Lower Congo societies in shaping Atlantic slavery, they rarely consider what slaverymeant and how indigenous communities in the region practiced it. This state of affairs has fueled a long-standing debate among historians and anthropologists around two topics: (1) whether ‘slavery’ emerged in the Lower Congo prior to the arrival of Europeans and (2) whether the very ‘institution’ of slavery is Eurocentric. In this talk, I show how heuristic categories that historians use to understand slavery—such as thresholds between clientship and slavery, the dichotomy between free and slave, or the distinction between chattel and lineage slavery—misrecognize the original pathway of slavery in this region.

Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Marcos Leitão De Almeida
Oct 25, 2021 from 04:00 to 06:00

My work addresses a persistent problem in African history: the deep history of slavery in the Lower Congo region. While historians acknowledge the importance of Lower Congo societies in shaping Atlantic slavery, they rarely consider what slaverymeant and how indigenous communities in the region practiced it. This state of affairs has fueled a long-standing debate among historians and anthropologists around two topics: (1) whether ‘slavery’ emerged in the Lower Congo prior to the arrival of Europeans and (2) whether the very ‘institution’ of slavery is Eurocentric. In this talk, I show how heuristic categories that historians use to understand slavery—such as thresholds between clientship and slavery, the dichotomy between free and slave, or the distinction between chattel and lineage slavery—misrecognize the original pathway of slavery in this region.

Artistic Communities and Patronage in Asia
Oct 14, 2021 11:30 to Oct 15, 2021 01:30

This international conference brings together specialist from different disciplines, focusing on a number of regions of Asia, such as India, Nepal, Tibet, the Silk Route, China and Japan. All experts conduct research on extreme forms of dependencies, in which artists, craftspeople and their communities find themselves, as well as on the freedoms they find within their situations.

Joseph C. Miller Lecture by Johannes Auenmüller
Oct 04, 2021 from 04:00 to 06:00

Johannes Auenmüller (Museo Egizio, Turin) talks about "The Display of Social Relations and Dependencies: Case Studies from Pharaonic Egypt". -- The discourse on social relationships in the context of status, prestige and belonging is a key aspect of Pharaonic elite culture. Social relations and hierarchies are not only addressed in texts, but also extensively displayed in visual sources and find ample archaeological representation in tombs, cemeteries, and settlements as well as in the design and layout of these built structures. The talk will explore the major relevant evidence of the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC (such as tomb imagery, necropoleis, stelae, and settlements) as cultural media from a sociological perspective. The presentation will not only illustrate the different modes and forms in which social relationships and dependencies are encoded iconographically and archaeologically, but also address how Pharaonic society understood, modelled, and constructed itself by those means.

In the Grip of the Supernatural
Sep 28, 2021 03:30 to Sep 30, 2021 12:00

The Conference is looking to explore the connection between the phenomenon of dependency and the realm of the supernatural (God, angels, demons) in late antique and early medieval Christianity.

Annual Conference "Embodied Dependencies"
Sep 22, 2021 to Sep 23, 2021

The conference “Embodied Dependencies” of Research Area B intends to approach the material evidence of asymmetrical dependencies by examining “embodied dependencies” in human societies from archaeological, art-historical and anthropological perspectives, exploring their historical breadth and variety. The conference will help to establish an inventory of material evidence of asymmetrical dependencies and its range of expression and information as an important site of asymmetrical dependencies next to the written word. Taking into consideration the “material turn” as well as recent debates on environmental history and bio-history, the conference also aims to relativize the modern/Western focus on written culture from a pre-colonial perspective. Hence the conference will be organized along four thematic panels: Bodies, Representations, Resources, and Spaces. Please note: The full program will be available shortly.

The Art of Healing
Sep 13, 2021 from 04:00 to 06:00

Next Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture Series on September 13, 2021, by Manuel Barcia Paz, University of Leeds.

The Early Slave Trade
Sep 06, 2021 from 04:00 to 06:00

The next Joseph C. Miller Lecture Series on September 6, 2021, by David Wheat, Michigan State University.

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