Monthly Archives: April 2019

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 (

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”).