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)


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