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:

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

OpenEdition suggests that you cite this post as follows:
Claude Chevaleyre (April 19, 2019). CfP: Exploring Slave Trade in Asia (ESSHC 2020). Human Trafficking and Slaving in China [CHTS]. Retrieved July 20, 2024 from

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