Call for Papers: International Conference
Apply by March 25, 2023!
International Women's Day
Syria -Turkey Earthquake Emergency
25 March: Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery
United Nations International Day
Call for Papers: International Conference
International Women's Day
Syria -Turkey Earthquake Emergency
25 March: Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery

Welcome to the Cluster of Excellence at the 
Bonn Center for Dependency & Slavery Studies 

"Beyond Slavery and Freedom:
Asymmetrical Dependencies in Pre-Modern Societies"

We are a research cluster within the framework of the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments.

We investigate profound social dependencies such as slavery, serfdom, debt bondage, and other forms of permanent dependency across epochs, regions and cultures. 

Our focus lies "beyond slavery and freedom", i.e. we aim to overcome the binary opposition of "free" and "unfree".

Instead, we propose the new key concept of "asymmetrical dependency" to explore all forms of bondages across time and space. 

BCDSS Library of Ancient Slavery

Launch of the BCDSS Library of Ancient Slavery
Get an insight of the launch of BCDSS' Library of Ancient Slavery.

Reading & Discussion with Natassa Sideri

Debt Bondage
Watch what playwright Natassa Sideri thinks about our reading and discussion evening on her play "Gefesselt" 

Exhibition opening

Women's emanciption and Jewish assimilation
"All they wanted was to study..." exhibition opening at Frauenmuseum Bonn

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

March 25th is International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. We would like to draw your attention to a selection of recent scholarly work and activities carried out here at the BCDSS.

Check out the upcoming lectures between April and June 2023

We regularly invite renowned international scholars from across the world to present their ongoing research related to asymmetrical dependency and slavery. In return we offer the possibility to publish a revised version of their lectures as part of our Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture Publications.

See what's coming up between April and June!

In The Routledge History of Loneliness

Published in The Routledge History of Loneliness

Edited By Katie Barclay, Elaine Chalus, Deborah Simonton.

In this chapter Dr. Jennifer Leetsch interweaves the subject of loneliness with an example of early-19th-century Black life-writing, the slave narrative The History of Mary Prince (1831), the first Black life narrative by a woman published in Britain, at a time of immense social rupture and change effected by anti-slavery and abolitionist politics. Locating the intersections of displacement and community in slavery life-writing across the Black Atlantic, this literary analysis contrasts the many contested communities at work in Prince’s text with the loneliness of her experiences in, through and after slavery. The chapter argues that loneliness, fragmentation and separation are fundamentally part of the slave narrative, just as much as the existence and continual rearticulation of Black community and solidarity. By focusing on loneliness as a condition constitutive of the genre, the chapter excavates the dynamics between the intimate feelings of loneliness, social isolation and systemic alienation as experienced by enslaved people, as well as inconspicuous yet wilful forms of community-building and acts of care that are activated in relation to and articulated through experiences of oppression, dehumanisation and objectification.

Download the full Chapter here

CfP: Contributions to a Special Issue of Journal of Global Slavery

Without an analysis of enslavement at the very centre of its operation, can the study of fashion ever really be critical? Can it contemplate how fashion commodities, communication, and experience actually contribute to our cultural life?

For this Special Issue, we invite submissions of 6,000 word papers on any relevant period of history or on contemporary sources and situations. 500-1,000 word reviews of relevant scholarly publications or cultural work are also of interest.

We are particularly interested in scholarly work that explores clearly defined and contextualised instances of asymmetric dependency (as opposed to generalised or decontextualized fashion images/communication about enslavement etc). BCDSS referee the submissions and will offer translation support where necessary. Articles to be published in this JGS’s special issue must not consist of previously published scholarly work.

New Dissertation by Dr. Eva Marie Lehner

We are pleased to congratulate our BCDSS Researcher Dr. Eva Marie Lehner on the publication of her dissertation! 

"Taufe – Ehe – Tod. Praktiken des Verzeichnens in frühneuzeitlichen Kirchenbüchern"

(Baptism – Marriage – Death. Practices of indexing in early modern Church records)

With the recording of all baptisms, weddings and funerals, pastors created the first civil registers of their parishes in the 16th century.

in Formative Modernities in the Early Modern Atlantic and Beyond. Identities, Polities and Glocal Economies

Founded in 1713, the Königliches Lagerhaus Berlin produced several types of woolen cloth—prominently among them, uniforms for the growing Prussian army. It was one of the kingdom’s largest and most important manufactories. 

Out now: The Analytical Concept of Asymmetrical Dependency

Published in the Journal of Global Slavery, 8 (1), "The Analytical Concept of Asymmetrical Dependency" is an update of the BCDSS Concept Paper "On Asymmetrical Dependency" (2021).

Christian Laes: On disabled emperors and common people

Our Senior Fellow Christian Laes researches families, children, sexuality, and disabilities in Antiquity.

Joseph C. M. Memorial Lecture by Décio Muianga & Diogo Oliveira
HYBRID event: On site ...
04:15 - 06:00
New perspectives on the past slave trade activities and its impacts in Mozambique: Understanding this process through archaeological (terrestrial and ...
International Conference
Bonner Universitätsforum ...
Competing Memories: The Politics of Remembering Enslavement, Emancipation and Indentureship in the Caribbean
Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Lara Putnam
Online via Zoom
04:15 - 06:00
This talk seeks to advance critical dialogue about historians’ choices of topic, sources, and methods, asking what kinds of silences become ...
Friday Seminar with Julie Miller
Heussallee 18-24, ...
04:00 - 05:30
This week, Julie Miller is looking forward to a lively discussion of and feedback on her presentation, “A History of the Person in America.” Her ...
Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Nitin Varma
Online via Zoom
04:15 - 06:00
Dr. Nitin Varma will unwrap biographies of servitude, drawing upon a range of legal and ego documents from nineteenth-century northern India. Based on a ...
CANCELLED Friday Seminar with John Agbonifo
Heussallee 18-24, ...
04:00 - 05:30
In this Friday Seminar, Heinz Heinen Kolleg Fellow John Agbonifo will speak on his research project “Neither Slave nor Free Labour? Understanding Labour ...
Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture by Larissa Rosa Corrêa
Online via Zoom
04:15 - 06:00
Prof. Larissa Rosa Corrêa, of Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro, examines the development of labor laws in Brazil from the 1930s. When the ...
Friday Seminar with Hillary Taylor
Heussallee 18-24, ...
04:00 - 05:30
For this week's Friday Seminar, Heinrich Heinen Kolleg Fellow Hillary Taylor discusses her project “Violence at Work in Early Modern Britain and its Overseas ...

Contact Us

Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS)

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Managing Director: Jeannine Bischoff
Press and PR Manager: Cécile Jeblawei


University of Bonn
Niebuhrstraße 5
53113 Bonn  

Heinz Heinen Kolleg for Advanced Studies (HHK) 


University of Bonn
Heussallee 18–24
53113 Bonn

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