BCDSS Book Series "Dependency and Slavery Studies" (DSS)

Our "Dependency and Slavery Studies" (DSS) Series is made up of monographs and edited volumes published by De Gruyter Publishing House. Based on BCDSS research projects and aimed at a wide professional readership, the books reflect the cluster's research methods and wide-ranging interests in history, regional studies and cultural science. Manuscripts submitted for publication in the book series undergo a double-blind peer review process. The editors of this book series are Jeannine Bischoff and Stephan Conermann.

Would you like to contribute to the "DSS"? Proposals can be submitted by anyone. Please ensure your contribution is clearly connected to the BCDSS’s concept of strong asymmetrical dependency. If you would like to submit a proposal please contact publications@dependency.uni-bonn.de.

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Once published, all volumes of our "Dependency and Slavery Studies" Series are free to download via Gold Open Access.

You can find our language policy here.

Elke Brüggen and Marion Gymnich: Narratives of Dependency - Textual Representations of Slavery, Captivity, and Other Forms of Strong Asymmetrical Dependencies

Given that strong asymmetrical dependencies have shaped human societies throughout history, this kind of social relation has also left its traces in many types of texts. Using written and oral narratives in attempts to reconstruct the history of asymmetrical dependency comes along with various methodological challenges, as the 15 articles in this interdisciplinary volume illustrate. They focus on a wide range of different (factual and fictional) text types, including inscriptions from Egyptian tombs, biblical stories, novels from antiquity, the Middle High German Rolandslied, Ottoman court records, captivity narratives, travelogues, the American gift book The Liberty Bell, and oral narratives by Caribbean Hindu women. Most of the texts discussed in this volume have so far received comparatively little attention in slavery and dependency studies. The volume thus also seeks to broaden the archive of texts that are deemed relevant in research on the histories of asymmetrical dependencies, bringing together perspectives from disciplines such as Egyptology, theology, literary studies, history, and anthropology.

Dependency and Slavery Studies Series, Vol. 11
May 2024

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Narratives of Dependency
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Stephan Conermann, Claudia Rauhut, Ulrike Schmieder and Michael Zeuske: Cultural Heritage and Slavery - Perspectives from Europe

In the recent cultural heritage boom, community-based and national identity projects are intertwined with interest in cultural tourism and sites of the memory of enslavement. Questions of historical guilt and present responsibility have become a source of social conflict, particularly in multicultural societies with an enslaving past. This became apparent in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, when statues of enslavers and colonizers were toppled, controversial debates about streets and places named after them re-ignited, and the European Union apologized for slavery after the racist murder of George Floyd. Related debates focus on museums, on artworks acquired unjustly in societies under colonial rule, the question of whether and how museums should narrate the hidden past of enslavement and colonialism, including their own colonial origins with respect to narratives about presumed European supremacy, and the need to establish new monuments for the enslaved, their resistance, and abolitionists of African descent.

Dependency and Slavery Studies Series, Vol. 10
November 2023

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Stephan Conermann, Youval Rotman, Ehud R. Toledano and Rachel Zelnick-Abramovitz: Comparative and Global Framing of Enslavement

The study of enslavement has become urgent over the last two decades. Social scientists, legal scholars, human rights activists, and historians, who study forms of enslavement in both modern and historical societies, have sought – and often achieved – common conceptual grounds, thus forging a new perspective that comprises historical and contemporary forms of slavery. What could certainly be termed a turn in the study of slavery has also intensified awareness of enslavement as a global phenomenon, inviting a comparative, trans-regional approach across time-space divides. Though different aspects of enslavement in different societies and eras are discussed, each of the volume’s three parts contributes to, and has benefitted from, a global perspective of enslavement. The chapters in Part One propose to structure the global examination of the theoretical, ideological, and methodological aspects of the "global," "local," and "glocal." Part Two, "Regional and Trans-regional Perspectives of the Global," presents, through analyses of historical case studies, the link between connectivity and mobility as a fundamental aspect of the globalization of enslavement. Finally, Part Three deals with personal points of view regarding the global, local, and glocal. Grosso modo, the contributors do not only present their case studies, but attempt to demonstrate what insights and added-value explanations they gain from positioning their work vis-à-vis a broader "big picture."

Dependency and Slavery Studies Series, Vol. 9
September 2023

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Comparative and Global Framing of Enslavement
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Jeannine Bischoff, Stephan Conermann and Marion Gymnich: Naming, Defining, Phrasing Strong Asymmetrical Dependencies - A Textual Approach

An examination of the terms used in specific historical contexts to refer to those people in a society who can be categorized as being in a position of 'strong asymmetrical dependency' (including slavery) provides insights into the social categories and distinctions that informed asymmetrical social interactions. In a similar vein, an analysis of historical narratives that either justify or challenge dependency is conducive to revealing how dependency may be embedded in (historical) discourses and ways of thinking. The eleven contributions in the volume approach these issues from various disciplinary vantage points, including theology, global history, Ottoman history, literary studies, and legal history. The authors address a wide range of different textual sources and historical contexts – from medieval Scandinavia and the Fatimid Empire to the history of abolition in Martinique and human rights violations in contemporary society. While the authors contribute innovative insights to ongoing discussions within their disciplines, the articles were also written with a view to the endeavor of furthering Dependency Studies as a transdisciplinary approach to the study of human societies past and present.

Dependency and Slavery Studies Series, Vol. 8
July 2023

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Stephan Conermann, Mariana Armond Dias Paes, Roberto Hofmeister-Pich and Paulo Cruz Terra: Current Trends in Slavery Studies in Brazil

African slaves were brought into Brazil as early as 1530, with abolition in 1888. During those three centuries, Brazil received 4,000,000 Africans, over four times as many as any other American destination. Comparatively speaking, Brazil received 40% of the total number of Africans brought to the Americas, while the US received approximately 10%. Due to this huge influx of Africans, today Brazil’s African-descended population is larger than the population of most African countries. Therefore, it is no surprise that Slavery Studies are one of the most consolidated fields in Brazilian historiography. In the last decades, a number of discussions have flourished on issues such as slave agency, slavery and law, slavery and capitalism, slave families, demography of slavery, transatlantic slave trade, abolition etc. In addition to these more consolidated fields, current research has focused on illegal enslavement, global perspectives on slavery and the slave trade, slavery and gender, the engagement of different social groups in the abolitionist movement or Atlantic connections. Taking into consideration these new trends of Brazilian slavery studies, this volume of collected articles gives leading scholars the chance to present their research to a broader academic community. Thus, the interested reader get to know in more detail these current trends in Brazilian historiography on slavery.

Dependency and Slavery Studies Series, Vol. 7
May 2023

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Martin Schermaier: The Position of Roman Slaves - Social Realities and Legal Differences

Slaves were property of their dominus, objects rather than persons, without rights: These are some components of our basic knowledge about Roman slavery. But Roman slavery was more diverse than we might assume from the standard wording about servile legal status. Numerous inscriptions as well as literary and legal sources reveal clear differences in the social structure of Roman slavery. There were numerous groups and professions who shared the status of being unfree while inhabiting very different worlds.The papers in this volume pose the question of whether and how legal texts reflected such social differences within the Roman servile community. Did the legal system reinscribe social differences, and if so, in what shape? Were exceptions created only in individual cases, or did the legal system generate privileges for particular groups of slaves? Did it reinforce and even promote social differentiation? All papers probe neuralgic points that are apt to challenge the homogeneous image of Roman slave law. They show that this law was a good deal more colourful than historical research has so far assumed. The authors’ primary concern is to make this legal diversity accessible to historical scholarship.
Dependency and Slavery Studies Series, Vol. 6
March 2023                                                                                                                          

Julia A. B. Hegewald: Embodied Dependencies and Freedoms - Artistic Communities and Patronage in Asia

Have you ever thought about dependencies in Asian art and architecture?

Most people would probably assume that the arts are free and that creativity and ingenuity function outside of such reliances. However, the 13 chapters provided by specialists in the fields of Asian art and architecture in this volume show, that those active in the visual arts and the built environment operate in an area of strict relations of often extreme dependences. Material artefacts and edifices are dependent on the climate in which they have been created, on the availability of resources for their production, on social and religious traditions, which may be oral or written down and on donors, patrons and the art market. Furthermore, gender and labour dependencies play a role in the creation of the arts as well. Despite these strong and in most instances asymmetrical dependencies, artists have at all times found freedoms in expressing their own imagination, vision and originality.

This shows that dependencies and freedoms are not necessarily strictly separated binary opposites but that, at least in the area of the history of art and architecture in Asia, the two are interconnected in what are often complex and multifaceted layers.

Dependency and Slavery Studies Series, Vol. 5
March 2023

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Christoph Witzenrath: The Russian Empire, Slaving and Liberation, 1480-1725 - Trans-cultural Worldviews in Eurasia

The monograph realigns political culture and countermeasures against slave raids, which increased during the breakup of the Golden Horde. By physical defense of the open steppe border and by embracing the New Israel symbolism in which the exodus from slavery in Egypt prefigures the exodus of Russian captives from Tatar captivity, Muscovites found a defensive model to expand empire. Recent scholarly debates on slaving are innovatively applied to Russian and imperial history, challenging entrenched perceptions of Muscovy.

Dependency and Slavery Studies Series, Vol. 4
November 2022

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Kate Ekama, Lisa Hellman, Matthias van Rossum: Slavery and Bondage in Asia, 1550–1850 - Towards a Global History of Coerced Labour

The study of slavery and coerced labour is increasingly conducted from a global perspective, and yet a dual Eurocentric bias remains: slavery primarily brings to mind the images of Atlantic chattel slavery, and most studies continue to be based – either outright or implicitly – on a model of northern European wage labour. This book constitutes an attempt to re-centre that story to Asia.

With studies spanning the western Indian Ocean and the steppes of Central Asia to the islands of South East Asia and Japan, and ranging from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, this book tracks coercion in diverse forms, tracing both similarities and differences – as well as connections – between systems of coercion, from early sales regulations to post-abolition labour contracts.

Deep empirical case studies, as well as comparisons between the chapters, all show that while coercion was entrenched in a number of societies, it was so in different and shifting ways. This book thus not only shows the history of slavery and coercion in Asia as a connected story, but also lays the groundwork for global studies of a phenomenon as varying, manifold and contested as coercion.

Dependency and Slavery Studies Series, Vol. 3
November 2022

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Africa – Atlantic – America: Slavery and the Slave Trade in Africa, the Atlantic, the Americas, and Europe
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Michael Zeuske: Africa – Atlantic – America - Slavery and the Slave Trade in Africa, the Atlantic, the Americas, and Europe

The main focus of the book is the spaces mentioned in the title in relation to the system of Atlantic slavery (Africa, Atlantic, America, Europe – AAAE). Atlantic slavery or Atlantic slaveries are understood to be twofold: (1) the slavery regimes on African and American land, including the islands; (2) the enslavement and transportation by land and sea, to which the slave trade on the Atlantic (middle passage) belongs.

The main research findings of this book can be expressed via the following theses:

1) By docking on Africa and controlling the middle passage of Atlantic slavery as well as the colonies in the Americas, Europe rose to become a global power.

2) Atlantic slavery originated in Africa in the 15th century and was maintained by African elites, including Muslims, to the end - in the Western Hemisphere until around 1890; in Africa and other areas for longer.

3) The main carriers of the Atlantic slavery were European-Americans, i.e. Christian Iberians (mainly from Portugal and Spain and from their colonial or ex colonial areas, first of all in the Americas, for example Brazil and Cuba) who dominated the south-south connection of the slavery-Atlantic. The bulk of the ships of the Atlantic slave trade sailed between the Americas and Africa. During the so-called "abolition era" (1794–1888), these Iberian carriers, supported by US captains and slave traders, acted as main slave smugglers and traffickers on the hidden Atlantic. 

4) In all the Americas, from North to South, slavery regimes, including indigenous, missionary, and frontier slavery of castas (non-whites), existed before, during, and after the European colonialism (colonial settlers and indigenous slavery; settlers as slaves of indigenous people, missionary and casta slaveries beginning with colonialism); the latter are grouped under "other slaveries" in the book.

5) The Atlantic slavery of the Iberians was put through as the dominant slavery regime by colonial structures and elite activities, surpassed only by internal slavery in the United States in the 19th century.

6) Sugar plantation slavery was the leading resource of modernity, followed by coffee and cotton. It founded the independent industrial revolutions of the Second Slavery.

7) It was despite or because of the formal abolitions of slavery that this Second Slavery (this is one of the most important concepts of the book) that occured mainly in southern US, in western Cuba (Cuba grande) and southern Brazil in the 19th century, brought an independent, still partly colonial, capitalist slavery modernity to the fore.

Dependency and Slavery Studies Series, Vol. 2
November 2022

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Jeannine Bischoff and Stephan Conermann: Slavery and Other Forms of Strong Asymmetrical Dependencies - Semantics and Lexical Fields

In this volume, we approach the phenomenon of slavery and other types of strong asymmetrical dependencies from two methodologically and theoretically distinct perspectives: semantics and lexical fields.

 Detailed analyses of key terms that are associated with the conceptualization of strong asymmetrical dependencies promise to provide new insights into the self-concept and knowledge of pre-modern societies. The majority of these key terms have not been studied from a semantic or terminological perspective so far.

Our understanding of lexical fields is based on an onomasiological approach – which linguistic items are used to refer to a concept? Which words are used to express a concept? This means that the concept is a semantic unit which is not directly accessible but may be manifested in different ways on the linguistic level. We are interested in single concepts such as 'wisdom' or 'fear,' but also in more complex semantic units like 'strong asymmetrical dependencies.'

In our volume, we bring together and compare case studies from very different social orders and normative perspectives. Our examples range from Ancient China and Egypt over Greek and Maya societies to Early Modern Russia, the Ottoman Empire and Islamic and Roman law.

Dependency and Slavery Studies Series, Vol. 1 
October 2022

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Slavery and Other Forms of Strong Asymmetrical Dependencies Semantics and Lexical Fields
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