28. April 2023

Public Lectures by Prof. Zeuske/Dr. Voss and Prof. Berges 24 May - Dies Academicus: Lectures by Prof. Zeuske/Dr. Voss and Prof. Berges

Dies Academicus - 24 May 2023

At this year’s Dies Academicus, there will be two public lectures by BCDSS members. 

20 San José de la Angosta, Cárdenas
20 San José de la Angosta, Cárdenas © public domain
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Lecture on the history of plantations

Professor Michael Zeuske and Dr. Alexa Voss will be giving a public lecture on the history of plantations in the context of Atlantic slavery. While many people associate plantations with the cultivation of sugar and cotton and the trade of enslaved Africans, Zeuske will explore the origins of the plantation system, tracing it back to its beginnings in Madeira, the Canary Islands, and São Tomé in the 16th century. He will also discuss the development of the plantation system in Barbados in the 17th century and how it became a defining feature of the slavery empires in the Americas. This lecture promises to shed new light on the history of plantations and their role in shaping the Atlantic world.

Slave plantations for the cultivation of sugar and cotton as well as trade with slaves from Africa - hardly anything shapes the image of the slavery empires in the Americas more strongly.

Plantations, however, have accompanied the Atlantic slavery since 1500. Ever since Eduard von Lippmann's fundamental book on sugar (Geschichte des Zuckers, 1890), everyone in Europe assumed that plantations had existed during the "westward migration" of sugar (when sugar cane migrated from Papua via India and the Mediterranean to the Americas). In the Middle Ages, however, there were very few large latifundia with mills in Cyprus, otherwise sugar was grown by farmers as beets rather than canes.

The "invention" of the plantation is twofold: in historical reality in Madeira (very few), the Canary Islands (few) and especially in São Tomé in the Gulf of Benin under the name of engenho/ ingenio or roça in the 16th century and under the general name of "plantation" (plantation/ estate) in Barbados in the 17th century.

How did the invention of the slave plantation come about, how did it develop, and what is its significance for us today?


Lecture on the Exodus in the Old Testament

Professor Ulrich Berges will talk about "The Exodus in the Old Testament. Liberation and/or Divine Slavery?" and discuss the ambiguity of salvation and submission, paying special attention to the slavery laws in the Old Testament. 

The liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt is one of the most fundamental contents of the Old Testament Jewish credo and subsequently also of the New Testament Christian religion. More decisive than the historical core of truth or the hypothetical reconstruction of the same is the spiritual-historical dynamic of this narrative. In the justifications of some nation states such as South Africa, the USA, and Israel, the Exodus narrative plays a decisive role, as it does in liberation movements such as the South American "teología de la liberación."

An important aspect of the Old Testament narrative remains underexposed or even completely negated: The salvation from slavery does not lead to freedom and autonomous self-determination, but to the obligation to submit to the divine Torah. This ambiguity of salvation and submission can be seen in the Old Testament in the often overlooked metaphor of YHWH as the slave owner of his people. This lecture will explore this ambiguity, paying special attention to the slave laws in the Old Testament.


Burial chamber of Rechmirê
Burial chamber of Rechmirê © Public Domain. Maler der Grabkammer des Rechmirê - The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202.

Lecture by Prof. Zeuske and Dr. Voss

Date: Wednesday, 24 May, 15:15–16:15

Venue: Lecture Hall II 


Lecture by Prof. Berges

Date: Wednesday, 24 May, 17:15–18:15

Venue: Lecture Hall V

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