Featured post

The Bibliography

The tentative bibliography of “slaving” and “dependency” in Chinese history (and beyond) is now a work in progress. See above (in the menu section). Completing this “Bibliography of Slaving and Dependency in China (and Beyond) will take time. So, please stay tuned. If you have suggestions for additional references, or find mistakes, do not hesitate to contact me.

Direct link to the Bibliography of Slaving and Dependency in China (and Beyond)


University of Bonn, Bonn Centre on Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS)

Interdisciplinary Workshop

“Punishment, Labour and the Legitimation of Power”

Heinz Heinen Center for Advanced Study, Bonn, 24-25th September 2020

Call for papers

The Bonn Centre for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS) aims to analyse personal, social, and spatial dependency from a global, long-term, and trans-disciplinary perspective. Within the BCDSS, the Research Group „Punishment, Labour, Dependency“ addresses the ways in which the entanglements of punitive and labour regimes impact the production and reproduction of dependency….

Full text of the call for paper

[CfP] Masterclass: The Transformations in the World of Work

Call for Papers

Germany Institute (DIA), Amsterdam / International Institute of Social History (IISH), Amsterdam / N.W. Posthumus Institute, Nijmegen

“The Transformations in the World of Work: Bringing Sociological and Historical Perspectives Together”

Prof. dr. Nicole Mayer-Ahuja, University of Göttingen

International Masterclass, 10 June 2020, IISH, Amsterdam
Since the 1970s, work is transforming all over the world. A sharp decline in employment, the dispersion of industrial units and the break-up of large workplaces is accompanied by the disappearance of full employment and the promotion of self-employment and self-provision. State protection for workers diminishes while public services have been liberalized. Trade unions had to adjust to a new role since collective action as organizing principle appeared to be less effective. Both among sociologists and historians, in the Netherlands, in Germany as well as globally, the interest in these developments and its consequences is rising.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean sociologists and historians often cooperate well nor even communicate with each other in a concise way. That they are working alongside each other results in missed opportunities. Sociologists could benefit from historical (long-term) perspectives on topical issues. Historians, who have become interested in these issues only recently, could profit from the knowledge and experience of sociologists and gain from their approaches, for example statistics or other methods used in behavioural science. Starting from the idea that in studying the transformation in the world of work both fields could benefit from further exchange and collaboration, this masterclass wants to discuss how to benefit from cross-disciplinary cooperation and interdisciplinary approaches.

We invite young scholars, from global labour history, social and economic history, (labour) sociology and (labour) anthropology, who study the transformation in the world of work since the 1970s up until today, to participate in this masterclass. How do we bring the fields together? On the basis of short papers, we will discuss the following questions:

  • • What can scholars from both disciplines learn from each other and what does that yield?
  • • What are the strong and weak spots where the fields can supplement each other?
  • • What are the crossroads (questions, definitions, methods, theories, answers) discussions among sociologist and historians should focus on?
  • • What current challenges are scholars in both fields facing and what are the steps forward?

The masterclass offers PhD candidates and early-stage post-docs the opportunity to discuss their research with an expert in the field. During the masterclass participants are asked to share their experiences and thoughts on the basis of a pre-submitted paper (with a max. of 2000-3000 words). This might be based on experiences within your own research, can be both empirical or more theoretical, or draw upon plans, ideas and suggestions not yet fully finalized. What insights did your research project already bring you? What parts of your project could benefit from (interdisciplinary) input? And even more important: why? The goal is to open up a concise and constructive exchange and to discuss difficulties and opportunities in our research

During the masterclass the master, prof. dr. Nicole Mayer-Ahuja, will open up the discussion by some introductory remarks and by commenting on the papers. Mayer-Ahuja is professor of sociology (with a focus on work, company, and economy) at the University of Göttingen as well as director of the Sociological Research Institute (SOFI). Both in her research and in many SOFI-projects, she focused strongly on transnational perspectives on labour. On the one hand, her classical case-studies of labour sociology are extended to work constellations beyond Germany and even beyond Europe. On the other hand, her research on work and employment in Germany is increasingly analysed from a transnational perspective, through productive discussions and cooperations in the emerging field of Global Labour History and Global (Labour) Sociology.

The masterclass is convened in the context of the Graduiertenkolleg by the Germany Institute, in collaboration with the International Institute of Social History and the N.W. Posthumus Institute. The Graduiertenkolleg at the Germany Institute Amsterdam is a scientific programme for young researchers who are interested in German history, sociology and politics. It brings together scholars from Germany and the Netherlands who present their research projects and engage in discussions with Dutch and German experts. The International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam conducts academic research on the history of work and labour relations. This worldwide research is focused on the last five hundred years of globalization (1500-2000). The N.W. Posthumus Institute (NWP) is the Research School for Economic and Social History in the Netherlands and Flanders. It promotes innovative and advanced interdisciplinary research in economic and social history by stimulating joint research programmes of participating institutes and provides a PhD training in economic and social history. Besides the masterclass on Wednesday 10 June 2020 this Graduiertenkolleg includes a workshop with lectures on Thursday 11 June 2020.

International scholars are very welcome; however, we will not be able to cover your travel or overnight stays. Interested candidates are invited to send an abstract (c. 300 words) before April 1, 2020 to rosa.kosters@iisg.nl. Selected candidates will be notified by April 8, 2020. A full working paper should be submitted no later than May 22, 2020. Participants are expected to briefly present their work (maximum of 5 minutes) and mainly focus on formulating some concrete questions for input and feedback. To engage in a productive discussion, all participants are invited to read each other’s papers in advance.

Important dates:

  • Deadline submission abstract of c. 300 words: 1 April 2020
  • Selected candidates will be notified by: 8 April 2020
  • Deadline submission working paper of 2000-3000: 22 May 2020
  • International Masterclass: 10 June 2020
  • International Workshop (Graduiertenkolleg): 11 June 2020

[Workshop] Digital analysis of multi-layered Chinese texts at the ANU (Australia)

The first of its kind in Australia to examine the scope of state-of-the-art computerized textual analysis of traditional Chinese texts, this workshop will bring together distinguished international experts in the combined fields of Chinese studies and Digital Humanities (DH).

These experts will introduce scholars and students at ANU and beyond to their particular areas of expertise in digital text analysis. This general overview of their work will be followed by sessions devoted to the more specific question of how to digitally analyse multi-layered Chinese texts, such as texts with commentaries.

On its final day the workshop aims to provide a forum for students and early career researchers to present their own DH projects in the form of poster sessions and discuss them with the experts. The best eight presenters will receive small grants in support of their participation. More about this can be found here.

Applications for poster presentations: michael.schimmelpfennig@anu.edu.au

More info and program: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/digital-text-analysis-in-traditional-chinese-studies-tickets-73904932643

Announcing “Forced Relocations: Conceptualizations, Cases and Data” workshop in Bonn May 2020

Call for applications: https://www.dependency.uni-bonn.de/en/events/forced-relocations-conceptualizations-cases-and-data

The renewed attention of the past decades for the many faces of coercion, in the form of slavery, serfdom and other forms of bondage, urges scholars to reconsider not only the divisions and comparisons, but also the connections and interactions between these forms. Various current initiatives are devoted to improving our understanding of different forms of coercion, either in the wider perspective in the form of strong asymmetrical dependencies (e.g. the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies) or in the form of coerced labour (e.g. the global labour history programme of the IISH).

This renewed perspective has shifted away from analysing slavery as an institution towards slaving as an historical practice. Scholarship focusing on the world outside the Atlantic has brought to light the various forms of slavery, as well as the sometimes extensive slave trade, in the Mediterranean, the Western Indian Ocean world, South- and Southeast Asia, and Central Asia. Besides the widespread occurrence of commodified slavery, and the impetus of the slave trade which fed into this, many new studies also underline the simultaneous existence and interaction with all kinds of non-commodified forms of bondage in many regions across the globe, most importantly corvée, caste- and debt-based slavery.

This workshop foregrounds the question of how to deal with forced relocations, acknowledging slave trade as only one of its many historical manifestations – that ranged from commodified trade in enslaved people to the different forms of exchange of bonded people, including tribute, abduction, kidnapping, repopulation, warfare and other kind of forced movements.

The workshop is part of the project Exploring Slave Trade in Asia – a collaboration that aims to create the basis for a slave trade database initiative by

a) collecting and curating existing datasets,
b) identifying source material for future data creation, and
c) creating an initial data infrastructure for a collaborative database documenting slave trade and forced relocations in Asia, from the Indian Ocean and Indonesian archipelago worlds, to the South China seas and East and Central Asia.

We therefore invite contributions that explore the phenomenon of forced relocation by one (or multiple) of the following angles:

Conceptualizing forms of forced relocations;
Studying historical case studies of forced relocations in comparative ways;
Studying or conceptualizing the relation between (forms of) forced relocation and regimes of coerced labour or extreme asymmetrical dependencies;
Exploring and analysing sources for data creation on forced relocations;
Reflecting on the implications of any of these topics on conceptualizing and creating a suitable data infrastructure.
Reactions can be sent to assistance[at]dependency.uni-bonn.de until 31 December 2019.

Abstracts (roughly 200 words) should describe the proposed paper (including topic, method, possible sources and data).

The expert workshop will take place on 11 and 12 May 2020, at the Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies in Bonn.

The project Exploring Slave Trade in Asia is a collaboration by the International Institute of Social History, Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, Linnaeus University and ENS Lyon. More information here.

WORcK COST Action website online

The Cost action for 2019-2023 has officially started. Join our working group on “Grammars of dependency”, which I am glad to lead with Branimir Brgles (Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics). We will try to expand from the original idea of our colleague Juliane Schiel (Vienna University.

It collects and compares words, expressions and phrases across time and space for at least three moments of coercion: The working group “Grammars of Dependency” takes inventory of the variety of words, expressions and phrases historical actors themselves used in specific times, places and contexts to articulate social dependencies and work relations. It collects and compares words, expressions and phrases across time and space for at least three moments of coercion:
– recruitment into a work relation;
– use and exploitation of a workforce;
– termination of a work relation.
By detecting and explaining the social meanings and taxonomical orders behind those words, WG1 challenges the field’s reliance on the analytical language of the modern West. It makes it possible to see the words used to name labour relations and conditions of dependency as fields of conflict among historical agents. In other words, it treats the naming of certain status or labour relation as a contested act of power

More information here: https://www.worck.eu/organisation/wg1/

If interested, please join the action to receive newsletters and be informaed of workshops, conferences, and training schools

[Announcement] Handbooks and Anthologies for Officials in Imperial China

Pierre-Etienne Will’s long expected bibliography will be out for Christmas (Publication expected on Dec. 24, 2019)!

“The 1,165 entries of Handbooks and Anthologies for Officials of Imperial China by Pierre-Étienne Will and collaborators provide a descriptive list of extant manuscript and printed works—mainly from the Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties—created with the aim to instruct officials and other administrators of imperial China about the technical and ethical aspects of government, and to provide tools and guides to help with the relevant procedures. Both generalist and specialized texts are considered. Among the latter, such disciplines as the administration of justice, famine relief, and the military receive particular attention. Each entry includes the publishing history of the work considered (including modern editions), an analysis of contents, and a biographical sketch of the author.”

See on the editor’s page: https://brill.com/view/title/38448

[Announcement] The Palgrave Handbook of Bondage and Human Rights in Africa and Asia (forthcoming 2019)

The Palgrave Handbook of Bondage and Human Rights in Africa and Asia, ed. Gwyn Campbell and Alessandro Stanziani will be out in November 2019!

Argument: “In the West, human bondage remains synonymous with the Atlantic slave trade. But large slave systems in Africa and Asia predated, co-existed, and overlapped with the Atlantic system—and have persisted in modified forms well into the twenty-first century, posing major threats to political and economic stability within those regions and worldwide. This handbook examines the deep historical roots of unfree labour in Africa and Asia along with its contemporary manifestations. It takes an innovative longue durée perspective in order to link the local and global, the past and present. Contributors trace shifting forms of forced labour in the region since circa 1800, connecting punctual shocks such as environmental crisis, conflict, market instability, and crop failure to human security threats such as impoverishment, violence, migration, kidnapping, and enslavement. Together, these chapters illuminate the historical and contemporary dimensions of bondage in Africa and Asia, with important implications for the fight against modern-day bondage and human trafficking.”

More information on the editor’s webpage

[Annoucement] CfP “Slavery in Early Modern East and Southeast Asia” Workshop Harvard

Call for Paper Proposals: “Slavery in Early Modern East and Southeast Asia”

Date of workshop: March 23–24, 2020

Location: Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA

Date proposals due: August 26, 2019

See below for proposal requirements.

We seek proposals for papers about different types of unfree labor in East and Southeast Asia during the early modern period, including but not limited to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. From the proposals, we will invite 8–10 scholars to participate in the two-day workshop to be held at Harvard on March 23–24, 2020. We will cover airfare and hotel for invited participants. A selection of the papers will appear in a special issue of the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies.

The goal of the workshop is to spark discussion about the involuntary circulation of people within and beyond the East and Southeast Asian region. We see this workshop and publication as contributing to development of a working definition of “slavery” in the early modern Asian context. We welcome submissions from the fields of history, literature, art history, and other disciplines. We also welcome international submissions, including from scholars resident in East and Southeast Asia. Papers and conference presentations must be in English.

Proposal Requirements:

  • a current CV
  • title of proposed paper
  • abstract of proposed paper (maximum 200 words)
  • explanation (maximum 100 words) of why the form of unfree labor you examine can be considered slavery

Please provide all the following materials by August 26, 2019:

Send proposals to: HJAS_submissions@fas.harvard.edu
Contact Info: Melissa J. Brown, Managing Editor, HJAS

Contact Email: melbrown@fas.harvard.edu
URL: http://www.hjas.org

Guest lecture (Bonn BCDSS)

Human Trafficking in Late Imperial China: Evidence and Interpretative Framework

Lecture: Dr. Claude Chevaleyre, 13/05/2019, 18:00, Heussallee 18-24.

As some historians of global slavery observed recently, China “has a problem with slavery.” This problem is a multi-faceted one that includes not only how “slavery” in China is or should be defined and conceptualized, or its scale and importance in Chinese history, but also the extent and ways in which men, women, and children were trafficked, a topic that previous studies of human bondage in China frequently ignore. This lecture will present preliminary evidence of the existence and dynamics of networks of human trafficking during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) eras. In so doing, it will raise issues that future research will need to address such as evaluating the transnational dimensions of human trafficking in China and this traffic’s entanglement with local practices of bondage and servitude, markets in human beings, and commodity chains. It will also question the relevance of applying the categories and interpretative frameworks of “slavery” to contexts that did not contribute to shape them.


CfP: Exploring Slave Trade in Asia (ESSHC 2020)

Exploring Slave Trade in Asia

Panel Proposal for European Social Science History Conference, Leiden, 18-21 March 2020

Organizers: Claude Chevaleyre (ENS Lyon), Matthias van Rossum (IISH), Samantha Sint Nicolaas (IISH)

Deadline: 10 April 2019

Most of today’s 35.8 million people who live in conditions of slavery are located in Asia, especially India, Pakistan, China and Indonesia (GSI 2014). These conditions have deep historical roots. Scholarship has noted that slavery and slave trade were widespread throughout maritime Asia from the early modern period well into the nineteenth century (Reid 1983; Warren 1981 and 2010; Stanziani 2011 and 2017; Mann 2012). Recent estimates indicate that the Asian slave trade may have been almost as extensive as its Atlantic counterpart (Vink 2003; Allen 2010 and 2014; Van Rossum 2015; Bosma [2018-19]).

The trade in enslaved people connected different parts of the maritime worlds of the Indian Ocean, Indonesian archipelago and South China seas. In contrast to the Atlantic world, however, a comprehensive and detailed insight in the size, structure and patterns of this slave trade is still lacking. Some topics and regions are relatively well-researched, such as the slave trade of the French near Madagascar and the Cape of Good Hope, but other regions are largely unexplored.

This session aims to bring together scholars working on slave trade in maritime Asia, including East, Southeast and South Asia, the Arabian peninsula, as well as East and South Africa. It invites especially contributions that address:

  • reconstructions of slave trade voyages
  • quantifications and estimates of slave trade
  • circuits and flows of slave trade
  • (individual) transactions of enslaved
  • networks of slave merchants
  • sources for the study and reconstruction of slave trade
  • or other related topics (such as registers of slave populations, notarial records, manumission records, etc).

The session is organized by scholars organized in a network on slavery and trade in Asia emerging from a series of successful workshops in Amsterdam (2016), Kalmar (2017) and Lyon (2019). In 2018, this network started an initiative for the creation of a collaborative slave trade database in the wider Indian Ocean world and maritime Asia, beginning by i) collecting and curating existing datasets on slave trade, ii) creating an initial data infrastructure (pilot), and iii) identifying source material for future data creation.

(More information: https://socialhistory.org/nl/projects/exploring-slave-trade-asia).

Abstracts (roughly 200 words) should describe the proposed paper (including topic, sources, method and data) and can be send to Samantha Sint Nicolaas (samantha.sintnicolaas@iisg.nl).

Conference “Capture, Bondage and Forced Relocation in Asia”

From March 13 to March 14, Claude Chevaleyre and Jennifer Gaynor have organized an international conference at ENS-Lyon, France, entitled “Capture, Bondage, and Forced Relocation in Asia

Funded by the Crafoord Foundation, Linnaeus University, the École Normale Supérieure of Lyon, IDEX-Lyon and the Lyons East Asia Institute

View program

For several years, networks of historians have gradually formed around workshops, conferences and digital humanities projects to reassess the place and history of slavery and trafficking in Asia and the early modern Indian Ocean. Driven by the ambition of these historians to go beyond the colonial historical framework that prompted the emergence of this new initiative, the intent of this conference is to continue the conversation and expand it to integrate continental and East Asian experiences.

Inspired by a preliminary data set that strongly suggests slavery and human trafficking in Asia may have been at least comparable in number to that of the Atlantic world, these scholars also recognize the need to move beyond the Atlantic as a model of inquiry, with its attendant Eurocentric biases. We aim to investigate slavery and slave trading in Asia in all its historical depth and social, economic, political, and cultural complexity.

For instance, we know from pre-European treaties, yet wish to know more, about the thriving slave trade that flourished across vast parts of Asia. One objective of the conference is to reintegrate these “Asian” treaties, which were then transformed and took on new dimensions with the growth of European colonialism. Yet, this is only one part of a larger picture. While we now have a better understanding of how expropriated people fit into the political economy of labor, we still have much to learn about the social and political circumstances that governed and led to their expropriation.

Capture, forced relocation, and enslavement were not just about the acquisition of dependent and servile labor. In particular, the transfer of women, as well as of children, underscores the need to focus on all factors that facilitated the displacement and trafficking of human beings, to understand better the structures, conditions, and social relations in which transfers of people and trafficking took place. What historically specific dynamics and situations allowed for the social uprooting of individuals and their reinsertion into contexts of enslavement and dependency? How did these processes articulate with wider regional, cross-regional, and global circuits of political economy?
Both quantitative and qualitative research is needed to comprehend better the dynamics, directions, logics and dimensions of capture, forced relocation and enslavement in Asia. A wide variety of papers will analyze the contexts, routes, and means by which people were displaced, exchanged, and reduced to dependency and servitude in Asia, alongside the presentation of related projects on quantitative and geospatial studies of trafficking in early modern Asia.

Scientific Committee:
• Allen, Richard (Framingham State University)
• Calanca, Paola (EFEO)
• Chevaleyre, Claude (CNRS, UMR 5062)
• Gaynor, Jennifer (University at Buffalo, State University of New York)
• Hägerdal, Hans (Linnaeus University)
• Miller, Joseph (University of Virginia)
• Riberiro da Silva, Filipa (International institute of social history)

Organization Committee:
• Bourgon, Jérôme (Dir. de recherches, CNRS, UMR 5062)
• Charles, Aurélie (Gestionnaire, CNRS, UMR 5062)
• Chevaleyre, Claude (Chargé de recherches, CNRS, UMR 5062)
• Domenach, Elise (Maîtresse de conférences, ENS Lyon)
• Graziani, Romain (Professeur, ENS Lyon)
• Guillemot, François (Ingénieur de recherche, CNRS, UMR 5062)
• Jaluzot, Béatrice (Maîtresse de conférences, IEP Lyon)
• Lecler, Yveline (Professeur, IEP Lyon)


Human Trafficking and Slaving in China

Ce carnet est à la fois un blog et une plateforme de diffusion des actualités et résultats issus du projet de recherche financé par l’IDEXLYON (Impulsion) et coordonné par Claude Chevaleyre (CNRS-Institut d’Asie Orientale).

Ce projet a pour but d’analyser et d’évaluer le phénomène de la traite d’êtres humains en Chine impériale tardive (15-19e siècles). Il repose sur une démarche quantitative et qualitative mobilisant les outils des humanités numériques (l’élaboration d’une base de données de la traite est au cœur de ce projet). Le projet est à ce stade financé jusqu’en 2021 mais est prévu pour se prolonger au-delà. Il fait en outre partie d’un plus vaste projet de base de données de la traite en Asie moderne piloté par l’International Institute of Social History, en collaboration avec le Bonn Centre of Dependency and Slavery Studies (Allemagne), l’Université Linnaeus (Suède) et l’Institut d’Asie Orientale de Lyon.

Au-delà de cette activité centrale de communication scientifique relative à ce projet spécifique, il permettra également de diffuser une veille documentaire sur l’histoire de l’esclavage en Asie, de publier des bibliographies spécifiques, et de rendre compte de l’activité du groupe de recherche que j’anime au sein du Bonn Centre of Dependency and SLavery Studies (intitulé “Slavery in Asian History”).