BCDSS Book Series "Dependency and Slavery Studies"

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

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


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.

Volume 6 in this series
De Gruyter publication date: May 14, 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.

Volume 5 in this series
De Gruyter publication date: July 14, 2023

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.

Volume 4 in this series
De Gruyter publication date: November 21, 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.

Volume 3 in this series
De Gruyter publication date: November 2022

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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.

Volume 2 in this series
De Gruyter publication date: 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.

Volume 1 in this series. Published by De Gruyter: October 3, 2022.
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