BCDSS Working Papers

Our “Working Papers” present results from ongoing research and contribute to current scholarly debate. They are conceptualized as “works in progress”. The aim of this publishing series is to stimulate debates on the new key concept of the Cluster, strong asymmetrical dependency. They are subject to an internal peer review.

Dorothea Heuschert-Laage: Slavery in Eighteenth Century Mongolia: Transactions in People and Notions of Property according to the Qanggin Banner Archives 

Abstract: This paper investigates moments of transition in which people were forced into dependency,
or had to change from one relationship of asymmetrical dependency to another. It is argued
that these transitions were backed by state law, but were rooted in practices which predated
the establishment of the Qing dynasty (1636–1911). In order to understand the social, legal
and economic constellations in which people were recruited or transferred to other
dependency relationships, the study draws on a micro-historical approach based on records
from a local archive in Inner Mongolia (China). On the basis of these findings, it develops
categories of transition, and discusses the meaning of property rights in settings of multi-level

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Julia A.B. Hegewald: Dependency, Subjugation and Survival: A working paper on the Jaina Culture in Medieval Karnataka, South India

Abstract: This paper investigates the changing position of the Jaina religious community in the south
Indian State of Karnataka in premodern times. From the early fifth century onwards, the
influence of the Jainas in the region had consistently increased. This situation changed
significantly during the middle of the twelfth century. This was due in part to transformations
which the Jainas themselves made to the structure of their society, religious practices and
ethical standards; but also because Jainism became side-lined by the arrival of competing
religious groups. As a consequence, the Jainas suffered a significant loss in power. From a
former position of superiority, they dropped to one of extremely strong asymmetrical
dependency. The persecution of the Jainas led to the destruction and annexation of their icons,
temples and religious centres. This paper examines the changes this severe form of dependency
had on Jaina art and architecture—and through the absorption of Jaina religious objects and
spaces, also on the cultures of the newly dominant groups.

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Béla Bodó: The Numerus Clausus Law of 1920: Asymmetrical Dependencies, and The "Twisted Road" of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz

Abstract: This working paper examines the impact of the infamous numerus clausus legislation of 1920, which limited the share of Jewish students at institutions of higher learning to their proportion of the population, on incoming students, the position of Jewish graduates in the labor market, and the changing status of Jews in Hungary in the interwar period. It argues that the law not only reversed the process of Jewish emancipation in Hungary, but it also paved the way for the rise of a new form of relationship characterized by strong asymmetrical dependence, between the Hungarian elite and middle classes and their Jewish counterparts in the interwar period. The essay focuses on agency, the elimination of “exit strategies,” social marginalization, and the fate of university graduates during the Shoah.

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Christian Hornung: Die Entwicklung von Ämtern und Abhängigkeitensstrukturen im Frühchristentum

Abstract: This Working Paper provides a window on Christian Hornung’s current research as part of the Cluster of Excellence “Dependency and Slavery Studies.” His research focuses on the history of early Christian offices and institutions in the third century AD in terms of structures of asym-metrical dependency. Representative texts and authors to be analysed are the so-called Syriac Didascalia and Cyprian of Carthage. This selection of texts offers insights into the origins and theological rationales of the ecclesiastical dependency structures that developed with the emergence of different offices and lifestyles. Central to the analysis are not so much the prac-tical aspects of how ecclesiastical offices developed, but rather processes of legitimation and derivation. The Working Paper concludes by pointing to further fields of research and current research gaps.

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Veruschka Wagner: Free like other Freeborn People or just another Form of Dependency? Questioning the Situation of Manumitted Slaves in Early Modern Istanbul.

Abstract: This paper aims to present some thoughts and research findings related to my ongoing project on Ottoman slavery and dependency. The project, entitled “Spatial and Social Mobility of Slaves from the Black Sea Region in Seventeenth-Century Istanbul,” is part of the Transottomanica project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The project focuses on the mobility and agency of slaves and aims to give information about their legal and social status, their trajectories during and after enslavement, and their role in society. Based on the concept of asymmetrical dependency used by the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS), my focus in this paper is on the legal and social status of slaves after their time of enslavement in terms of dependency. Drawing on entries in Istanbul-area court records of the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, I address the question of freedom, and present some preliminary results concerning forms of asymmetrical dependency that shaped slaves’ lives after emancipation.

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Thomas Duve: Theorie und Methode der Analyse Asymmetrischer Formen von Anhängigkeit: Eine (Global)Rechtshistorische Perspektive

Abstract: This working paper aims to contribute to the transdisciplinary debates on how to analyze asymmetric forms of dependency at the BCDSS from the perspective of a legal historian inter-ested in global legal history and working mainly on the “Iberian Worlds”. I will therefore first introduce traditions and methods of legal historical research, and show the specific achieve-ments and shortcomings of these traditions by giving examples of how legal historians studied asymmetric forms of dependency. In the second part, I will briefly show that legal history can be understood as a history of the translation of normative knowledge. This innovative approach can help to overcome some of the shortcomings of the research tradition in this field by opening legal historical research for practices and allowing us to integrate into its analysis modes of normativity other than those that resulted in the (Western) modern state. Building on this, I will in the third part explain the concept of “Historical Regimes of Normativity”, which is a form of observation of more or less stable constellations of normative knowledge.

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Hermut Löhr: "Divine Dependency" in Ancient Judaism and Emerging Christianity - Reflections and Case Studies

Abstract: This paper provides insights into the author’s current project, which looks at “divine dependency” in texts of ancient Judaism (from the Second Temple period) and emerging Christianity. The first part identifies aims and research approaches before discussing fundamental aspects of the underlying categories and methodology. There are a number of reasons why the project requires a sophisticated set of tools for textual analysis and interpretation: in particular the fact that our sources are in numerous ancient languages, the multilingual nature of the period being studied, and the distinct, but terminologically and genealogically interconnected, orders of knowledge in antiquity and the present respectively. The second part of the paper will briefly outline three case studies with different but interconnected methodological foci: one semantic, one narrative and one discourse analysis.

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Bethany J. Walker: Peasant Dependencies in Medieval Islam: Whose Agency in Food Production and Migration?

Abstract: Medieval feudalism, while it took different forms in different parts of the world, shared one common characteristic: the military, political, and economy foundations of society were constructed with peasant labor. The “state” could not exist, in this form, without a compliant peasantry. The everyday lives of peasants living in the pre-industrial world thus evokes images of immobility, servitude, and a legal and social status that remained static over time. The realities of peasant life in the Islamicate world, however, were quite different. This paper explores the marked inequalities of the mutually dependent relationships that developed between the Mamluk and Ottoman sultanates and peasant society, focusing on two areas of encounter and control that mattered most to both sets of actors: food production and peasant mobility in its many forms (relocation, dislocation, abandonment of villages, and mass migration). Land use and human migration provide us with a unique vantage point to study strongly asymmetrical dependencies on the scale of the village and over la longue durée. A joint archaeological-textual study of two villages in Palestine and Transjordan offer us a regionally comparative context. 

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Fabrizio Filioli Uranio: Embodied Dependencies and Valencian Slavery in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

Abstract: The aim of this article is to investigate slavery in the Kingdom of Valencia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As we will see, slavery can be analysed in a perspective of both global history and micro-history, that is, the way the Valencian institutions played a precise role in the social control of slavery and in determining the price of slaves. Looking at some personal trajectories of these slaves will allow us to get closer to the Valencian reality of the Early Modern Period, showing us how the very concept of identification of these subjects, by means of brands and tattoos, was particularly important for local institutions precisely to recognize the slaves and possibly runaway slaves. In fact, one of the major concerns of the Valencian authorities was to avoid vagrancy phenomena, which could lead to petty criminal activities. Finally, those institutional mechanisms will also be highlighted by means of which slaves, without running away, could legally reach the much-desired freedom.

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Paulo Cruz Terra: Anti-Vagrancy, Punishment and Labor Relations in the Context of the Abolition of Slavery in Brazil and the Portuguese Empire (1870–1910)

Abstract: Focusing on the Brazilian and Portuguese Empire contexts, between 1870 and 1910, this text aims to investigate how the slavery abolition process affected the different historical definitions of what constituted vagrancy and how those definitions related to categories such as class, race and gender; and the way punishments for vagrancy changed over time and how those changes were linked to the transformations associated to the new workers’ labor and production relations. This article first explores the effect that the abolition discussions had on the definitions of vagrancy, and what the previous definitions had been. It goes on to show how, in the post abolition period, the concept of vagrancy was expanded to criminalize workers’ practices and behaviors. An important innovation and contribution of this article is that it is the first comparative and connected analysis of the transformations in labor relations in the abolition context in those spaces with the persecution of vagrancy as its central focus.

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