Research Objective

The BCDSS investigates strong asymmetrical dependencies (such as slavery, debt bondage, serfdom, ...) in human societies/social domains/social orders and practices. Interactions take place both between human and between human and non-human actors. Agency is attributed to non-human actors by human ones. Non-human actors without intentionality (such as environmental disasters, resource dependency, climatic conditions, etc.) can in some situations cause very strong asymmetrical dependencies among human actors. 

We inquire into the forms, the functions, the developments, the justifications, and the changes of strong asymmetrical dependencies while always taking into account our own positionality. Comparing these forms is a major methodological and theoretical challenge. 

Over the last years, we developed some additional basic theoretical hypotheses related to the concept of asymmetrical dependency in order to provide resources for analyzing social relations of asymmetrical dependency. Any theoretical framework developed for slavery and dependency studies as a whole must be appropriate for a variety of methodologies and projects, including explorations of historical, archaeological, and contemporary forms of asymmetrical dependency. 

Knowledge Production

In order to foster the production of knowledge among our researchers of all status groups and to stimulate the comparison between individual projects, approaches, and methodologies, the BCDSS created different spaces for collaboration.  

As we aim at equitable communication and intend to set an example to reduce hierarchies and hierarchical dependencies still common with academia, the contributions of all members – irrespective of their academic position – are equally valued and taken into account in these spaces. In the Research Areas and Working Groups, all BCDSS members, irrespective of their academic position, may take a leadership role.

Research Areas

Research Groups

Working Groups

Research Infrastructure

The BCDSS’s mission is to support its researchers by providing a first-class research infrastructure. The resources available for research include the library holdings of the ULB and the LAS, digital humanities resources such as websites, databases, digital archives and collections, as well as digital tools and services.

In addition, we have established a growing network of collaborations with national and international institutions and researchers, resulting in strong and active partnerships. 

Library Resources at the BCDSS

Slavery Digital Humanities

Bonn Center for Digital Humanities

Strategic Partners


The knowledge produced with the help of the BCDSS research infrastructure is distributed to various stakeholders through the following output formats.




Third-Party Funded Projects

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