DEPENDENT - REPRESENTATIONS OF SLAVES IN ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN VISUAL ART - of Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
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THE MAGAZINE OF THE BONN CENTER FOR DEPENDENCY AND SLAVERY STUDIES DEPENDENT 21 | 2 REPRESENTATIONS OF SLAVES IN ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN VISUAL ART PAGE 8 GROWING CONTEMPORARY WHAT MATTERS EXHIBITION ASYMMETRICAL TO US DEPENDENCIES PAGE 4 PAGE 36 PAGE 56
2 | TABLE OF CONTE N T S EDITORIAL | 3 GERMANY A “ G R O W I N G E X H I B I T I O N ” AB O UT R E S O UR C E S AN D D E P E N D E N C I E S P. 4 ANCIENT MEDITERRANEAN AREA T H E B E AUT I F UL , T H E UGLY AN D T H E S T R AN GE R : R E P R E S E N TAT I O N S O F S L AV E S I N AN C I E N T M E D I T E R R AN E AN V I S UAL ART P. 8 04 | O PINION 08 | S PECIAL FOCUS 13 | NEWS NIGERIA 16 | I NTE RVIE W I O N S AV I O UR S , M OT H E R S AN D W I V E S : I M AG E S O F W O M E N , L AT I N A M E R I C A 2 0 | FIE LD R E SE AR CH M E M O R I E S AN D D E P E N D E N C I E S I NTE R NATI O N AL W O R K S H O P AM O N G T H E YO R UB A O F N I G E R I A O N D E P E N D E N C Y AN D P. 2 2 2 8 | I NTE RVIE W II L A B O R I N L AT I N AM E R I C A P. 5 2 36 | CAD PE R U 31 | P UBLICATIONS A H A A R D P R OJEC T: A R C H A EO LO G I C A L 50 | CONF E R E NCE R E P ORT S R E S E A R C H , S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y A ND D E P E N D E N C Y 54 | EV E NTS & PR E VIE W P. 5 7 56 | WHAT MATTE R S TO U S Dear Readers, We welcome you to the fourth issue of our Cluster Traveling is not an everyday occurrence for most of Anas Ansar, another group member, reports about the archeologists Kevin Lane and Christian Mader give an Magazine DEPENDENT. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic us anymore, but we hope that we can give you at least international e-Symposium “Beyond the Pandemic: exciting example of how archeology can be sustainable. has been unable to stop research here at the BCDSS. We some inspiration for future travel destinations with Covid-19, Migration and Global Labour” organized by have some exciting news and events to report about. our special focus and our field researchers’ reports. CAD in March. Two of our Master students, Marina And of course, as in every issue, we give you an overview In the special focus section, classical archaeologists Zielke and Julia Winkel, provide insights into their stu- about past and upcoming events. Excitingly, the first of We are excited to tell you about our new library on Martin Bentz and Patrick Zeidler take you on a journey dent lives in times of the global pandemic and the “new these is very close at hand: the “Growing exhibition” ancient slavery, which the BCDSS has been lent by to ancient Mediterranean societies and describe differ- normal” of e-teaching. about resources and dependencies, which will open its the former Mainz Academy project Forschungen zur ent representations of slaves in visual art. Malik Ade (actual, physical) doors just as this issue of DEPENDENT antiken Sklaverei (Research on Ancient Slavery). Spe- shares with us experiences from his last field trip to Covid-19 not only restricts our daily lives, but also gives comes out. You can read all about it in the article penned cialist librarian Johannes Deißler, who was in charge Nigeria and his research about Moremi, a popular figure us room for discussion about how we want to rebuild or by Karoline Noack and Nikolai Grube. of the library for many years, kindly gave us a short in Yoruba folklore. change our post-crisis society. In our new section “What interview about the history and the special treasures matters to us”, members of the BCDSS describe how We hope you enjoy our offerings. of this collection. You can find the interview together Alexander Rothenberg takes you behind the scenes in sustainability can be realized in many different forms with other recent events in the news section of this his introduction of our working group “Contemporary and spaces. From the BCDSS Events Office, Jan Hörber Stay safe and stay healthy magazine. Asymmetrical Dependencies” (CAD). reports about sustainable event managing, while Klara Wigger
4 | O P INION OPINION | 5 process, which will continue for many years and Embroidered border, twentieth century, Gujarat, Western India, cotton fabric. Department of Asian and Islamic Art History, reflect the work of the Cluster of Excellence as a University of Bonn. whole. As this is a research exhibition, we decided to develop a new and more open concept which would bring together the processes of knowledge production and exhibition design on a continuous and transparent basis. As such, there is continual interac- tion between content (the generated knowledge) and formats, a process that will only come to an end when the exhibition finally opens. Our exhibition will not only literally showcase the research results, but also open windows on to the processuality of knowledge generation with all its attendant negotiations. A “GROWING EXHIBITION” ABOUT RESOURCES AND DEPENDENCIES Nikolai Grube and Karoline Noack “ Museum exhibitions are the result of a long preparatory process. Months and years of conceptualising and planning finally culminate in the moment where the doors are opened and exhibition and public meet at last. Asymmetrical dependencies between Only very rarely does this process take centre stage as the subject of an exhibition itself. institutions and between social actors impact the very design of an exhibition Curating an exhibition is, like writing ethnography, a and the decisions about what kind of productive process that involves complex negotiations knowledge is to be showcased. How then on a variety of levels and between numerous actors do social actors behave in planning an with different interests. This includes power relations exhibition that negotiates asymmetrical ” and the contexts in which an exhibition is conceptu- dependencies on resources themselves? alised, as well as, of course, discussions about the content of the exhibition itself. In fact, asymmetrical dependencies between institutions and between social actors impact the very design of an exhibition This exhibition is being developed as part of the and the decisions about what kind of knowledge is to current thematic year of Research Area B “Embodied be showcased. How then do social actors behave in Dependencies”. When we began work on the concept Statue of the Aztec maize goddess Chicomecoatl (reproduction of planning an exhibition that negotiates asymmetrical two years ago, it swiftly became clear that the exhi- a fourteenth- or fifteenth-century figure). BASA Museum (Bonn dependencies on resources themselves? bition could only show a snapshot of the discussion Collection of the Americas), University of Bonn
6 | O P INION OPINION | 7 BASA Museum (Bonn Collection of the Americas) ke d ybrüc Kenne . dstr Egyptian for Ox Markt Museum RHEI N Münster- platz Uni Hofgarten Department of Asian and Islamic Art History Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. HBF ULB Nikolai Grube is Professor for the Ade Anthropology of the nau era Americas at the University of Bonn. He is director of Ka llee Bonn Center for Dependency the Maya Hieroglyphic ise and Slavery Studies Dictionary Project and co editor of several rst r. Wine jug with inscription, Egyptian, 1480–1397 BCE. Provenance academic journals. His research focuses on not known. Marl, clay. Egyptian Museum of the University of Bonn. the structure of Mesoamerican societies, particularly pre-Columbian Maya societies. He is a Principal Investigator in the The University of Bonn’s research collections and Cluster of Excellence “Beyond Slavery and r. be rst museums will contribute objects to the initial exhibi- Freedom” and Speaker of the Research We Area B (“Embodied Dependencies”). tion. Its decentralized spatial distribution will reflect the fact that these museums and collections are scattered across the city. The selection of objects went hand in hand with ongoing discussions about the global interconnections of dependencies shaped This approach reflects current thinking on exhibi- the interrelations between material resources and by the access to and the processing and exchange Prof. Dr. Karoline Noack is Professor for the tions and knowledge production and complements dependencies in a small, decentralized initial exhi- of resources. As such, the cooperation between the Anthropology of the ongoing discussions in museum studies in the fields bition. Over the following years this experimental university museums and collections retraces the Americas at the University of anthropology, archaeology, art history, and others. exhibition will continue to grow and expand. The end dependencies shaped by the control of raw materials, of Bonn, Director of the It does this by engaging with the central question: the result will be a large event that concludes the first goods, and commodities, as well as the people who BASA Museum (Bonn interconnectedness and interdependency of mate- phase of the Cluster. It will provide windows on our produce and process them, over a period of time that Collection of the Americas). rialities in social and political relations – especially ongoing discussions about dependencies, and make stretches from Ancient Egypt to the present day. Her research within the BCDSS focuses those shaped by strong asymmetrical dependencies visitors part of the process. on the categories of social dependency “ of the Inca Empire with the aim of in a global context. “ developing methods for an interlinkage The cooperation between the university of archaeological, ethno-historical and The questions we ask in the growing exhibition Over the next few years this experimental museums and collections retraces the ethnological sources and approaches. are, How do materialities shape and form these exhibition will continue to grow and dependencies shaped by the control of She is one of the Deputy Speakers of the dependencies?, and, How are dependencies in turn expand. The end result will be a large raw materials, goods, and commodities, BCDSS and affiliated to Research Area B shaped and transformed by materialities? How do event that concludes the first phase of as well as the people who produce and (“Embodied Dependencies”) and E (“Gender materialities and their relations influence the gen- the Cluster. It will provide windows on our process them, over a period of time that (and Intersectionality)”), and one of the Speakers of the TRA “Present Pasts” at the dered representation and construction of knowledge ongoing discussions about dependencies, stretches from Ancient Egypt to the ” ” University of Bonn. in an exhibition? We want to implement the concept and make visitors part of the process. present day. of the growing exhibition in a first step by exploring
8 | S P EC IA L FOC US S PECIAL FOCUS | 9 Slavery and other forms of institutionally legitimized social dependencies played a crucial role in the daily life of societies in ” the ancient Mediterranean. Before we start our socio-historical analysis it is important to remember that these artworks are no “pho- to-realistic” images of real life. They should not be seen as neutral, unbiased sources of information. They are – con- scious or unconscious – constructions that reflect historical and social pro- cesses in symbolic ways, and they are always associated with particular ideo- logical ways of looking at the world. The meaning of these symbols has to be deciphered with the tools of visual science. The underlying “terminology” is based on particular features in the (2) Etruscan terracotta drinking cup in the form of a black African image that can be combined in different boy’s head. Bonn, Akademisches Kunstmuseum, inv. no. 945 THE BEAUTIFUL, THE UGLY ways. We will next discuss in some (© Akademisches Kunstmuseum Bonn, photograph: Jutta Schubert) AND THE STRANGER. more detail the various iconographic Occasionally, there are also idealized depictions from conventions used in ancient art to char- the world of labor, of workshops or quarries – which acterize slaves. in reality obviously would have been much harsher. An Athenian black-figure vase from the late sixth century BCE (fig. 3) depicts a scene in a pottery: one of the two (1) Relief on Etruscan cinerary urn with banqueting scene and cupbearer, plaster cast: Bonn, Akademisches Kunstmuseum, inv. no. 1178, unclothed slaves carries fuel, the other stokes the original: Berlin, Staatliche Museen, Antikensammlung, inv. no. E 24 (© Akademisches Kunstmuseum Bonn, photograph: Jutta Schubert) BEAUTIFUL, IDEALIZING DEPICTIONS OF SLAVES kiln. Their muscular, toned bodies would look exactly Numerous images in painting and sculpture depict the same as those of any citizen athletes without the In ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman societies, slavery was an integral part of daily life. Numerous images aesthetically pleasing slaves at work. This is partic- context. These industrious, exemplary slaves under- of dependent persons can be found in the material culture. In this article we will identify the multiple ularly true for domestic slaves, who may be shown line the status of the workshop owner, who is shown strategies which were used to represent slaves, and investigate the ideological framework associated serving their master at meals or helping their mistress clothed in a robe and carrying a staff as he oversees with the images. We will also discuss to what extent self-representations of slaves can give us a valuable get dressed. A typical example is this Etruscan relief their work. The harmonious tone is further strength- perspective from the point of view of the enslaved. from the sixth century BCE (see fig. 1), which shows a ened by the fact that the workers wear wreaths, just luxurious banquet with revelers reclining on couches as guests at a banquet would. This large, high-quality REPRESENTATIONS THE IMPORTANCE OF IMAGES FOR RESEARCH INTO ANCIENT SLAVERY while on the ground in front of them stand bronze vessels with wine and water. The figure on the left vessel was found in a richly furnished tomb. It was probably commissioned by a workshop owner. OF SLAVES IN ANCIENT Slavery and other forms of institutionally legitimized is marked as a servant by its smaller size. He is a cup social dependencies played a crucial role in the bearer who holds a ladle for the wine in his right hand. MEDITERRANEAN daily life of societies in the ancient Mediterranean He is unclothed, with a muscular, well-proportioned area. So it is not surprising that dependent persons body, and well-groomed, long hair gathered together VISUAL ART frequently occur in pictorial art. We have depictions at the nape of his neck. Without the context and his of slaves not only in public representative art (such reduced size he would be indistinguishable from a Martin Bentz as honorary monuments, statues or coins), but also free citizen. Such attractive and unclothed atten- Patrick Zeidler in many other fields, such as the private or domestic dants – who were meant to be erotically attractive, sphere (in gems, mirrors or vases) and on sepulchral too – should be read attributively: they are displayed art (on tomb paintings, urns and sarcophagi). The very in order to highlight their master’s status, just like the large number of depictions means that we will only be rich tableware in the foreground. Domestic slaves able to discuss a small selection of the overall very of African ancestry were particularly extravagant broad spectrum in this article. The Greek, Etruscan status symbols, as few could afford them. Pictures or and Roman artworks we will look at originated in the vessels may have served as substitutes, such as the period between the sixth century BCE to the second fourth-century BCE drinking cup shaped like the head (3) Greek vase painting depicting a workshop owner and two slaves at work, Munich Antikensammlungen, inv. no. 1717 century CE. of a Black African boy wearing a wreath (fig. 2). (© Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek München)
10 | S PECIAL FOC US S PECIAL FOCUS | 1 1 “ “ ugly or disfigured in ancient pictorial art may include Depictions of good-looking, hard-working baldness, a hunched back, dwarfism, or physical dis- Showing captive, chained “barbarians” slaves served to underline the master’s abilities. from a foreign land symbolizes ” status. Rome’s military success and cultural “ ” superiority. Dependent, socially inferior people were sometimes shown as alien, different, ugly, and deformed to distinguish them from Another example for the element of foreignness is the ” the free. depiction of Black Africans. Most of these have been interpreted as images of slaves, which can be seen in the fact that most are shown in subordinate roles: There are also numerous depictions in Roman art of carrying objects, serving, performing as dancers or “barbarians” from the north, such as Celts, Germans musicians, or asleep or huddled as they wait for their or Dacians (from the western Black Sea region), who masters; some are even tied up. These images show have long manes and shaggy beards and wear long a great interest in depicting physiognomic features, trousers – no Roman would look like that. Although such as rounded faces, fleshy lips, wide noses and these depictions emphasize the savagery and physical short, curly hair. In general, Black African slaves were strength of the “barbarians”, they are always shown seen as exotic in antiquity. This also explains why (6) Greek vase painting showing the coronation of a craftsman by as inferior enemies who submit to the Roman emperor vases such as the one in Bonn’s Akademisches Kun- the goddess Athena, Vicenza, Banca Intesa (reproduction from AdI 1876, tab. DE) or general, pleading for mercy or already in chains. stmuseum (fig. 2), which were used at the banquets of This latter motif can be seen in a couple of statues the wealthy upper class, were decorated with images now on the arch of Constantine, which were originally of Africans. was reserved for citizens. On a fifth-century BCE made under the emperor Trajan (early second century pottery vessel (fig. 6) a vase painter has portrayed CE). They are of men clad in long trousers, tunics and himself as a wealthy citizen. He is seated in an cloaks, whose hands are crossed in front of their SELF-REPRESENTATIONS OF SLAVES expensive armchair with his hair in ring-shaped curls bodies in a gesture that suggests bondage (fig. 5). The In addition to images seen from the perspective of the (a style typical for the sons of Athenian aristocrats). context indicates that these men are captive Dacians, elites we also have a number of depictions that were In real life, his carefully pleated robe would only get and that the statues are meant to commemorate created by or on behalf of the dependent. Are they dif- in the way if he really were at work, and to cap it all Trajan’s successful campaigns in this region. So the ferent from the images we have looked at so far? Do the goddess Athena is putting a wreath on his head. portrayal of captive, chained “barbarians” from a they show a more realistic perspective? An analysis Clearly, these unrealistic scenes are unattainable (4) Votive tablet showing workers in a clay pit (reproduction from distant, foreign land is part of public representative enables us to distinguish between two types of pic- wishful thinking, but they also demonstrate a certain S. Scholl – D. Grassinger – E. Ambros (eds.), Die Rückkehr der Götter, art, intended to symbolize Rome’s military successes tures: first, depictions of work and everyday life that professional confidence of the expert craftsmen (and Ausstellungskatalog Berlin, Pergamonmuseum (Regensburg 2008) and cultural superiority. at least in part adopt the iconography of the othering, indeed craftswomen; we also have some, albeit rare, 313 upper fig.) less-than-ideal images. Second, images that express depictions of women at work) who depict themselves an idealizing or “wishful-thinking” perspective that with pride. DELINEATING AND OTHERING show the dependent in ways typical for citizens. We “ In sharp contrast to those idealized images are depic- know of no images that cast a critical eye at everyday tions of dependent persons that show them as alien, work or life situations. Some enslaved craftsmen depict them- different, ugly, and deformed in order to distinguish selves as well-dressed, well-groomed them from the beautiful, idealized representations of Earlier we discussed a votive tablet from the sanc- citizens. This is wishful thinking, but it also ” freeborn citizens. One example are the painted votive tuary in the Greek village of Penteskouphia (fig. 4), shows their self-confidence and pride. tablets from Penteskouphia near Corinth in Greece, where artisans dedicated their humble gifts to the which were given as offerings to the god Poseidon. god to ask for support in their tasks. Their use of the The images show dependent persons engaged in stereotypical image ciphers – elongated sex, snub A mixture of both of these modes of representation typical activities, such as carrying heavy objects, nose, baldness etc. – clearly show that they lacked an occurs in the grave markers of Roman freedpeople with negatively connoted behaviors, such as indecent alternative iconographic vocabulary of their own with (liberti). After manumission, former slaves proudly exposure, and negatively connoted physiognomic which to characterize and distinguish themselves signal their new social position by wearing both a features such as physical defects. Our tablet (fig. 4) from their citizen masters. tunic and a toga – the latter garment was strictly from the sixth century BCE shows several workers reserved for male citizens. Our example (fig. 7) from who seem to be mining clay in a pit and carrying it We do, however, have a whole range of “wish- the first century CE shows, according to the inscrip- away in baskets. They include a naked, bearded man ful-thinking” images that depict dependent persons tion, P(ublius) Aiedius Amphio, who was the freedman who wields a hoe and who has an elongated, flaccidly in situations they were extremely unlikely ever to of a Roman man named Publius (the inscription reads, dangling phallus. A respectable citizen would never achieve. Slaves, occasionally named, are shown as P[ublii] L[ibertus]: freedman of Publius). Although he have been depicted in this way. This is therefore an finely dressed and well-groomed citizens participat- took the name of his former master, the freedman’s image cipher that enables the viewer to identify the ing in festive banquets with musicians and hetaerae face does not show the idealizing features of a (5) Statues of captive barbarians on the arch of Constantine in man as a dependent, socially inferior worker. Other Rome (reproduction from P. Pensabene (ed.), Arco di Costantino tra (high-class concubines), taking music lessons and or member of the nobility, but an old man with a receding iconographic features used to characterize slaves as archeologia e archeometria (Rome 1999) 199 fig. 6) practicing athletics in the gymnasium – a space that hairline, deep wrinkles, sunken cheeks, no teeth, and
12 | S PECIAL FOC US NEWS | 1 3 One of the few negative depictions of working condi- tions is clearly exaggerated with, apparently, hyper- bolic humor. In a workshop scene on a crudely painted pottery vessel from the fifth century BCE (fig. 8) a naked potter and his wife are shown at work making NEWS drinking vessels. On the right, an also naked slave is suspended from the ceiling and being whipped; while a slave who hurries away to the left is being pushed or beaten with an object by the woman. Given that the scene just described is on a wine cup, it seems reasonable to assume that it served to provide enter- tainment at a banquet rather than transport serious criticism. Martin Bentz is Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Bonn and Principal Investigator at the (7) Relief of a Roman freedman (reproduction from Staatliche Mu- BCDSS. He studies different BCDSS PUBLISHING SERIES forms of dependency in seen zu Berlin (eds.), Die Antikensammlung im Pergamonmuseum und in Charlottenburg (Mainz 1992) 202 upper fig.) the Greek and pre-Roman world of the AVAILABLE AS GOLD OPEN ACCESS first millennium BCE, beginning with the material evidence – archaeological finds several warts. But his unembellished, warts-and-all and ancient images – and contextualizing The BCDSS is committed to building bridges between researchers from all over the features clearly carry a positive connotation. The it with literary sources. At present, he world on the one hand, and researchers and the general public on the other. Being freed were proud of the hard work by which they had is directing a research project on the aware of the fact that sharing knowledge is one of the key values of responsible earned their new social status, and wanted to demon- Etruscan necropolis of Monte Abatone at Cerveteri (Italy) that looks at social research, the Cluster of Excellence makes available all of our publishing series strate this publicly through the medium of this almost as Gold Open Access content. This publishing strategy makes research findings inequalities and dependency structures. exaggerated realism, combined with the garments immediately accessible to everyone, without any embargo period. Immediate The project is funded by the DFG. that signalled their achievement. open access significantly increases the international visibility of the Cluster and overcomes socio-economic obstacles that may challenge individuals and “ research institutions interested in having direct access free of charge. Roman freedpeople were proud of the hard work by which they had earned their In addition to workshops, movie series, podcasts and social media content, freedom and their new citizen status. They ” Patrick Zeidler Gold Open Access represents an important element in the BCDSS’ outreach wanted to demonstrate this publicly. is a PhD candidate in strategy. A conscious and targeted use of this toolbox accompanied with Classical Archaeology at the University of Bonn and unlimited access to the Cluster’s e-publications means that truly everybody – works at the BCDSS as young people, teachers, policy makers and the general public, as well as of course a Research Associate in scholars across the globe – can be informed about current scholarly debates on slavery and other forms of Research Area B “Embodied strong asymmetrical dependencies that are of crucial significance for understanding current socio-political Dependencies”. His research project deals challenges. This interconnectedness between researchers and the general public lies at the center of our with the material, epigraphical and literary research agenda. evidence for slavery and other forms of asymmetrical dependencies in Etruria. He analyzes depictions of dependent persons, Using the option of Gold Open Access also means a wider audience for the scholarly works of our authors, as such as prisoners of war, or different types well as a deep impact on ongoing scholarly discourses. To guarantee recognition for the authors and their of household servants including cupbe- intellectual property, all Gold Open Access content is published under a Creative Commons (CC) license. arers, musicians, dancers, pedagogues The authors retain copyright for their works, and users must adhere to the copyright law as prescribed in and nurses, from between the sixth to the CC license “BY-NC-ND”. the first centuries BCE in different classes of Etruscan visual culture, among them For more information about mural and vase paintings, urns, sarcophagi, https://creativecommons.org/about/cclicenses/ mirrors, statuettes and gems. Creative Common Licenses, see: (8) Greek vase painting showing workshop in caricatured fashion, Athens, National Museum, inv. no. 1114 (reproduction after H. Blümer, Scenen des Handwerkes, AM 14, 1889, fig. 151)
14 | NE WS NEWS | 1 5 PROFESSORS AT THE BONN CENTER FOR DEPENDENCY AND SLAVERY STUDIES The BCDSS is delighted to announce that as of October 2021, Julia Hillner, Claudia Jarzebowski, Pia Wiegmink and Christoph Witzenrath will hold our four BCDSS Professorships. Julia Hillner who will start her post in October 2021m, is already at the BCDSS as a Heinz Heinen Fellow. She works predominantly on the transformations of the family and the household in the period 300–750 and how these are reflected in legal norms and practices. In addition, she also focuses on a number of related topics ranging from the urban context of the family and property holding, particularly in the late antique city of Rome, to issues of authority, hierarchy and discipline within the household and how these have influenced concepts and practices of state punishment in late antiquity. GLOBAL LEGAL HISTORY ON THE GROUND Claudia Jarzebowski will start her BCDSS Professorship in September 2021. In her current research, she focuses on global and gender history of the early modern period, including the history of dependence We are happy to announce that our researcher Dr. Mariana Dias Paes will be conducting a Max Planck and enslavement, as well as the genesis of bourgeois society. She has previously focused Research Group from January 2022 at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory in on the social and cultural history of the early modern period, the history of children and Frankfurt am Main. She successfully participated in a rigorous and highly competitive selection proce- emotion during the period of 1450-1800, and on historical research into violence and crime. dure held by the Max Planck Society. Max Planck Research Group Leaders hold a five-year W2 position, have their own budget for personnel and resources and have scientific autonomy. The group will be titled “Global Legal History on the Ground” and will put forward new theoretical and methodological perspec- tives in writing about how norms and legal categories are created in a global perspective. African Legal History plays a central role in this new perspective. Pia Wiegmink “ will start her BCDSS Professorship in September 2021. Pia Wiegmink is interested in cultural Dr. Mariana Dias Paes will be conducting the new Max Planck Research Group practices and narratives of nineteenth-century American slavery and dependency and their “Global Legal History on the Ground”, which will put forward new theoretical and transatlantic entanglements and circulation. In previous research projects, she examined US methodological perspectives in writing about how norms and legal categories are ” American abolitionist literature in specific transnational contexts and highlighted the role of created in a global perspective. women as producers, subjects and audiences of abolitionist literature. The title of the project expresses the two main goals of the Research Group: first, writing a global legal history told from the perspective of daily and concrete normative production that took place in ordinary places and in which local and subaltern groups were active participants: on the ground of normative pro- duction. Second, to create a global legal history that privileges research on African archives. The project Christoph Witzenrath will therefore put forward joint initiatives with a number of African archives and academic institutions: has been Professor at the BCDSS since 2017. His research focuses on the Eurasian steppe on the ground of the archives. Dr. Dias Paes is at present engaged in leading the research group “Law and its neighbors, and on the influence of nomadic-settled relations and the slave trade and the Creation of Dependency in the Ibero-Atlantic”, at the Cluster of Excellence “Beyond Slavery and on social dependency and political representation. He aims to analyze Eurasian societies’ Freedom”. She has also extensive experience in research that analyzes court cases filed before courts in structural and cultural specificities that are characterized by a significant gap between state Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau. and dependent social groups. FURTHER NEWS https://www.dependency.uni-bonn.de/en/press-releases Each of our four Professors has one Postdoctoral Research Associate on their team and will supervise PhD the- AND ANNOUNCEMENTS OF ses within the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies and beyond. Their teaching will form the core of BCDSS EVENTS CAN BE FOUND our two MA programs, “Dependency and Slavery Studies” and “Slavery Studies.” ON OUR WEBSITE: https://www.dependency.uni-bonn.de/en/events We are looking forward to shaping the field of dependency and slavery studies together in the future.
16 | I NTE RVIE W I INTERVIEW I | 1 7 Media units? of BASO, but they are included in the You mentioned books in Japanese, What does that mean? card catalogue and listed in a sep- Korean and Chinese. So there are arate data list. Of course, it would researchers in modern Asia who Besides classic books or mono- be great if the different databases focus on ancient Mediterranean INTERVIEW “ graphs there are also numerous could now be merged in Bonn.1 slavery? A VERY EXCITING printouts or photocopies from ency- clopaedias, journals and antholo- There are indeed, especially col- with Johannes Deißler, LONG-TERM Mainz Academy of Sciences and gies, as well as some microfilms and What are the main focuses of the leagues in South Korea and Japan ” a large stock of PDF files. collection? have been quite outstanding. I LOAN Literature. am convinced that we only know The project primarily focused on about a small part of their research, How are the holdings catalogued? ancient slavery, i.e. in classical unfortunately. Finding out about Greece and the Roman Empire. them was quite a laborious process, The entire collection is accessible However, we were always con- and in some cases only possible The library of the former Mainz Academy project Forschungen zur antiken Sklaverei (Research on Ancient by means of an alphabetical card cerned to include literature from with the support of native speakers. Slavery) has moved to Bonn and is now available to the students, Fellows and faculty of the Bonn Center for catalogue, which also moved to other areas and epochs. The library To incorporate these titles into the Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS) and the Heinz Heinen Kolleg (HHK) within the Cluster of Excellence Bonn. For the titles that are directly includes works on slavery in prehis- database was a challenge. For lit- Beyond Slavery and Freedom: Asymmetrical Dependencies in Pre-Modern Societies. relevant to slavery there is also a tory, in the Ancient Near East (Egypt, erature with non-Latin characters digital catalogue, the Bibliography Mesopotamia, Iran/India) and East we used simplified transliteration The Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero once claimed that a person wanted for nothing as long as they on Ancient Slavery Online (BASO) Asia, as well as Byzantium, the Bar- according to the rules for alpha- had a garden and a library (Letter to Varro: Ad Familiares IX 4). Covid-19 has doubly confirmed the validity of this (https://www.sklaven.adwmainz. barian successor kingdoms to the betical cataloguing in academic statement: under pandemic conditions, researchers especially know how important reliable and fast access to de/index.php?id=1584). This is the Roman Empire, the Early Middle libraries. Whenever an object was necessary literature can be. The Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS) and the Heinz Heinen updated version of the last printed Ages and early Islam. We also col- written in a less common language, Center for Advanced Studies are therefore very pleased that the library collected by the Mainz Academy Project version of our Bibliographie zur lected reception history (including we added a German translation Forschungen zur antiken Sklaverei (Research on Ancient Slavery) (www.sklaven.adwmainz.de) is being housed antiken Sklaverei (Bibliography on children’s and young adult litera- and a language abbreviation of the in Bonn for the duration of the Cluster of Excellence. The transfer was initiated by Winfried Schmitz, Professor Ancient Slavery) from 2003. We ture) and didactic material. How- original language in parentheses. of Ancient History at the University of Bonn and a member of the Mainz Academy (www.adwmainz.de). The converted this printed version to ever, the majority of the works looks In the days before services such Academy is loaning its library to Bonn for free. We spoke with Johannes Deißler, a former researcher at the a database and added all subse- at classical antiquity. Importantly, as Google Translate were widely Academy project who was in charge of the library for many years. quently published titles to it directly. we did not restrict ourselves in available to the public, this took a BASO thus contains all monographs, terms of language; in addition to lot of time and effort. essays, and encyclopaedia articles the European scholarly languages, “ on the scholarly study of ancient we also have many texts from the Researchers know how slavery known to our Slavery Cen- Slavic, Nordic and Finno-Ugric lan- Do you regret the library’s important access to liter- ter up to 2012. The database has a guage families, as well as titles in relocation? ature can be, especially sophisticated expert search func- Hebrew, Turkish, Japanese, Korean under pandemic condi- tion and is equipped with indexes and Chinese. It is my opinion that Of course it is never easy to hand tions. The BCDSS and the and a descriptor search based on with this loan, Bonn gains the most over a library from one’s own care Heinz Heinen Center are the systematics of the print ver- comprehensive specialized library into the custody of others. How- therefore very pleased sion, allowing quite complex search on the subject of ancient slavery ever, it is a necessary and a good that the Mainz Academy strategies. BASO lists all titles rel- worldwide! step: a library must be used and its specialist library on evant to ancient slavery, and the contents must be looked after. If Ancient Slavery is now collection that is now in Bonn con- there is no budget to keep the library “ in Bonn for the duration tains 95% of those titles. Sadly, we updated, it makes sense to open of the Cluster of were unable to procure the remain- The library includes it up again and make its contents ” Excellence. ing five percent during the project works on slavery in accessible to a larger group. Some The arrival of the books. period. They can be easily identified prehistory, in Egypt, former employees, researchers or in the database by the absence of a Mesopotamia, Iran, India students from Germany and abroad Mr. Deißler, what kind of founding of the Academy Program subsequently published literature shelf mark. In the card catalogue, of and East Asia, as well as from time to time asked for literature library is now enriching the Bonn in 1977, this Academy project estab- on slavery in the ancient Mediter- course, these missing titles do not Byzantium, the Barbarian or even spent a few days and weeks collections? lished a research center whose ranean and the surrounding region. appear at all. About one third of the successor kingdoms to in Mainz working with the library, tasks included building a special Over the course of these three collection is more general, i.e. texts the Roman Empire, the but this was only occasionally. Such The Academy project Forschungen library available to all contribu- decades, the library accumulated on general or social history that are Early Middle Ages and a valuable collection deserves more ” zur antiken Sklaverei was a long- tors of the project and to all other some 16,600 media units. not directly relevant to slavery. But early Islam. frequent use, even if we no longer term project jointly funded by the interested researchers worldwide. because it was a working library, added to the collection after 2012. Academy, the Federal Republic of With start-up capital, special funds scholars needed to be able to con- So I was absolutely in favour of the Germany and the state of Rhine- and an annual budget, the project sult those titles for general back- transfer. Requests and users will land-Palatinate until 2012. With the aimed to collect all existing and ground. These titles that are not part now simply redirected to Bonn. 1 We are happy to say that the University and State Library Bonn is currently engaged in exactly this task.
18 | I NTE RVIE W I INTERVIEW I | 1 9 the millennium onwards this really meant all. We spent a great deal of money in bookstores and antiquar- ian bookshops. The project assis- tants made countless photocopies and scans in all accessible libraries (and presumably cursed quite a bit), the Mainz University Library trem- bled in the face of our interlibrary loan requests, and finally some wires were occupied with searching the Internet for electronic versions. All in all, a total of 16,600 media units were collected, that is about 3,500 books, 12,250 photocopies The very special copy of “Spartacus”, or printouts of articles, and about with an autograph 3,100 PDF files. Perceptive readers by the great Czech will notice that the total adds up to classicist Pavel Oliva, who passed away in almost 19,000 copies – the reason March this year. is that we have some titles in mul- (Giovanni Pontano) tiple formats, such as print and pdf, In your eyes, is there a The earliest work in the library, a book on obedience by the Italian humanist Giovanni for example. special book? Pontano, or, in its Latinized form, Ioannes Iovianus Pontatus. I have a favourite. Its shelf mark is Collecting ended in 2012? acquired with a five-digit extraordi- Did you manage to acquire all the S Ro 38. It is a book, but it is also nary allocation. This sounds incom- works you wanted for the library? a lot more. It contains a handwrit- It had to. Without a project, there prehensible in view of the fact that ten dedication which makes it also were no funds. From 2012 onwards, today, many of the RE volumes and I regret to say that this is not the a memory of an ancient historian we could only add in-house pro- much more are inexpensively avail- case. Sometimes we were sim- who died only recently, and a tes- ductions of the former project or able on the Internet, but you must ply unable to acquire some known timony to modern history. It has donations, and the library could no remember that the twentieth cen- and newly bibliographed titles, or been years since this book was longer be expanded. The in-house tury was a very different time. we stopped searching for them. In purchased second-hand – without productions were several mono- view of scarce resources in terms knowledge of the autograph – but I “ graphs published in the Forschun- of time and finances – the library still remember how much it caught gen zur antiken Sklaverei series – The earliest work in the was an important working tool, my attention when it arrived. How- and of course the Handwörterbuch library dates from 1472; but it was just one of the areas in ever, I would like researchers to der antiken Sklaverei, a valuable it is the work of an Italian which the Center was active – this make active use of all titles equally reference work. humanist, Giovanni was painful, but made sense. After and in the same way. I hope that as Pontano, entitled all, it was important to keep an eye many colleagues as possible will ” De obedientia. on the whole and not to concen- benefit from the entire collection. What is the oldest work in the trate exclusively on, for example, Every book, every photocopy, in- Dr. Johannes Deißler collection? an Uppsala dissertation published deed every media unit is a treasure has been a researcher at in 1818. itself. the project Forschungen zur The earliest work in the library Could you describe the acquisition antiken Sklaverei (Research “ on Ancient Slavery) at the dates from 1472; it is the work of an process? We agree entirely! Mainz Academy of Sciences Italian humanist, Giovanni Pontano, I hope that as many Thank you very much for the and Literature, and was entitled De obedientia. This is not It always began with the search colleagues as possible information and the interview. in charge of the Academy’s specialist an original, of course, but a reprint for relevant literature. We did this will benefit from the library for many years. He has published of the 1490 edition. One of the great systematically with the help of entire collection. Every widely about slavery in classical antiquity. challenges was precisely how to specialized bibliographies, the sup- book, every photocopy, His current research focuses on Jews in The collection is housed at the acquire pieces that had been pub- plements of Classics journals and indeed every media unit medieval German history and mandates ” Heinz Heinen Kolleg for Advanced of the German Emperor Frederick III in lished a long time before the library those of related disciplines, cata- is a treasure itself. Studies (HHK) site at Heussallee southwest Germany. was founded in 1977. A lot of money logues from German and interna- 18–24, 53113 Bonn. Scholars who has been spent on this; Pauly’s tional publishers, as well as online want to use the library are wel- Realenzyklopädie (RE), for exam- databases and library systems. We come to send an email to ple, the standard encyclopaedia on attempted to obtain all titles found classical antiquity, could only be in this way, and from the turn of email@example.com A shelf of encyclopedias.
FIELD As they investigate strong asymmetrical dependency, our scholars go beyond the study of written records. They travel to the regions they research in order to RESEARCHERS’ scrutinize historical sources and artefacts. They also conduct interviews with experts and communicate with local people. In the following pages, the scholars share impressions from their historical, archaeological or REPORTS anthropological field research. Due to the corona pandemic, many of our scholars have had to postpone their research trips to a later date. So this section is shorter than usual. The reports we publish in this issue look back on research trips that took place before the pandemic. The health and safety of all is of particular concern to us.
2 2 | FIE LD R E SE A R CH FIEL D RES EARCH | 2 3 Approximately two years later, the ONE WOMAN, MULTIPLE ROLES monarch of another Yoruba kingdom, The story of Moremi encompasses the historical Oba Fredrick Obateru Akinruntan experience of the tenth century. There are various of Ugboland, also unveiled in front versions of the same story; current writing compiles of his palace, a statue of the same what is common to the different narrated versions. woman, Moremi. This time around she Moremi, the beautiful daughter of the ruler of the is portrayed as a woman in humble Yoruba town of Offa, was a trader and traveller, who dress, kneeling, palms closed and settled in Ife after her marriage to an Ife monarch. Ife outstretched as a sign of pleading for was the economic centre of the Yoruba people, which forgiveness. On the statue is written, attracted successful traders. It was during this period Moremi, Iyawo Olugbo of Ugboland, that the Ugbo people were attacking Ife on market that is, “Moremi the wife of Olugbo of days. Their costumes and the sounds they made were Ugboland”. unfamiliar to Ife; besides, none of the kidnapped Ife citizens ever returned to reveal the secrets of the mysterious kidnappers. The kidnapped became the MOREMI IN CONTEXT slaves of the Ugbo. The story of Moremi has been dated to around the tenth century, a period when The attacks by the Ugbo threw the great kingdom of the fame of Ife had already spread all Ife into turmoil. The market, dominated by women, over West Africa and beyond. Ife was served as the most important space of every Yoruba famous for the production of works kingdom, for not only was it the centre of production of art, especially bronze, brass, terra- and exchange of goods and services, but the Ife cotta, as well as different kinds of glass market was also believed to serve as the melting pot beads. They all served as the source of for different ethnic groups from all over the world. the kingdom’s riches. During this period, Ife also influenced other Yoruba groups politically, as they gradually emulated her monarchical structure. However, The Statue of Moremi, Ile-Ife, Nigeria at some point political disputes arose in Ife. The leading antagonists were Oduduwa and Obatala. As the hand of ON SAVIOURS, According to legend, queen and folk heroine Moremi helped to liberate the Yoruba kingdom of Ife from the Oduduwa group grew stronger, the Obatala group fled Ife and dwelt on the outskirts of the kingdom. MOTHERS AND WIVES: attacks by its neighbours. Our researcher Malik Ade unravels the story of Moremi in its ancient and The struggle for power between the two groups had IMAGES OF WOMEN, modern context. continued for several years before they finally recon- ciled and the Obatala-led group was reinstated in Ife MEMORIES AND Unless otherwise stated, pictures were taken by Malik kingdom. However, some followers of Obatala refused DEPENDENCIES AMONG Ade during his 2019/2020 field research in Nigeria to return to Ife; they travelled further and settled at a remote area called Igbo-Igbo (or Ugbo). Over time, THE YORUBA OF NIGERIA On November 2016, the monarch, His Majesty, Ooni the Ugbo contingent developed rebellious strategies Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II of Ile-Ife (or Ife), of attacking Ife citizens. They usually undertook the Malik Ade Nigeria, unveiled a 42-foot-tall statue to honour attacks on special market days using masquerades or Moremi. Ife traditions recognize Moremi as the leg- masked, costumed figures which were covered with endary woman who rescued the Yoruba people of raffia leaves. The guttural sounds made by the mas- Ile-Ife from invaders and kidnappers. Named Queen querades and the rasping sounds of their raffia leaves Moremi Ajasoro Statue of Liberty, the statue became both created panic among the people of Ife, who were the tallest in Nigeria and the third tallest in Africa, hitherto unfamiliar with the mysterious figures and after the 171-foot African Renaissance Monument in sounds. To defeat the invaders, Ife people had to first Dakar, Senegal, and the 66-foot Great Sphinx of Giza, demystify the strategies of the invaders. Egypt. Moremi is portrayed as a gracefully dressed woman, standing and proudly holding a firelight in her right hand. The Statue of Moremi, Ugboland, Nigeria
24 | FIE LD R E SE AR CH FIEL D RES EARCH | 2 5 The incessant invasions and kidnapping on Ife market people had to do was to set their raffia leaves ablaze At last Moremi surrendered. She let the people of Ife days saddened Moremi’s heart. She was not only a and they would detect that the kidnappers were mere know that she had made a vow and she must fulfil it. trader but also a mother of her only son and of the humans. Additionally, Moremi had acquired different Besides, she did not want to be the reason why Ife public as a whole. The economy was in decline whilst magical powers that would nullify the potency of the would face another trouble with the Esimirin river. She her metaphorical children now faced insecurity. Brave Ugbo mysteries. thus surrendered her only son to be sacrificed to the Moremi decided to help the kingdom of Ife. She first river, and peace reigned yet again in Ife. consulted the Esimirin river deity for spiritual support. The people of Ife took the Ugbo invaders by surprise “ She made a vow that if the deity supported her in her during their next (and last) expedition to Ife. They mission to help the people of Ife, she would provide set the invaders’ raffia costumes on fire; war ensued In fulfilment of her vow, Moremi sur- anything the deity demanded. The deity agreed. and the Ugbo were heavily defeated by the Ife army. rendered her only son, Oluorogbo, to be Through the help of Moremi, Ife put a stop to the sacrificed to the river, and peace reigned “ incessant invasions of the Ugbo people. again in Ife. After her death, the people ” The incessant invasions on market days deified her. saddened Moremi’s heart. Brave Moremi ” decided to help the kingdom of Ife. The people of Ife mourned with Moremi for her loss The Ugbo people notice Moremi’s beauty and select her for and promised to serve as her children whilst she lived their king and after her demise. Moremi grew old, and after her demise, the people deified her. Ife people kept their At Ugboland the kidnappers uncovered the faces promise and continued to honour her as the mother of the kidnaped. They were struck by the beauty of and saviour of the great kingdom. To the present Moremi and decided to preserve her for their mon- day the people of Ife continue to remember Moremi arch, the Olugbo of Ugboland, equally got struck by and perform annual festivals in which the historical Moremi’s beauty and immediately took her as his wife. events are re-enacted. Thus, Moremi’s status changed from slave to wife. One of the major festivals associated with Moremi is the annual Edi festival during which the whole story is re-enacted. Also, streets were named after her; insti- tutions, such as the university of Lagos, Nigeria, name student hostels after Moremi. In 1978, Moremi High The masquerades lead the kidnapped Ife citizens to Ugboland to become slave labourers School was opened in Ife, situated on the campus of the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Moremi returns to Ife and leads people with firelight to defeat Next, Moremi disguised herself as a common woman the Ugbo masquerades However, the erection and unveiling of the 42-foot- and allowed herself to be kidnapped – alongside other tall statue sparked great tensions and threatened to Ife people – by the Ugbo masquerades. As usual, the revive history – one thousand years on. eyes of the kidnapped were covered throughout the The Ife crown and the people held Moremi in the high- journey to prevent them from knowing the road and est esteem. Peace returned to the great kingdom and While archaeological materials and preserved arte- detecting the secrets of the Ugbo kidnappers. the economy began to boom again. But Esimirin, the facts have made it possible to successfully recon- river deity, refused to share in the peace and joy of Ife. struct the activities of Moremi’s period, folklore The King of Ugboland falls in love with Moremi The deity expressed anger by sweeping through the continues to serve as the major means of preserving kingdom with a flood. Priests consulted the river to history among the Yoruba. Folk tales informed the Throughout the process, Moremi pretended and find out what the problem was, only to realize that the festivals and corroborated visual objects. Above all, played along as the Ugbo monarch fell in love with her. legendary Moremi was the problem. She had become Yoruba folklore continue to serve as significant ele- Then she began to ask questions about the mysteries so overwhelmed by the victory of Ife over the Ugbo ments of information about the people’s personhood, of the Ugbo kidnappers. The king who had fallen in invaders that she had forgotten to redeem her vow. identities, and gender concepts. According to the love with Moremi thought that Moremi had the same Yoruba, folklore known by the Yoruba as àróbá, serve feelings for him, and so he revealed the secrets of the The priests informed Moremi about this and she as the father of history. Each Yoruba group protects mysterious spirits. As soon as Moremi discovered all immediately rushed to the river to express her apol- their own tales or their version of a conventional folk- the necessary secrets, she escaped from Ugboland ogy and ask for what the river wanted in return. The lore jealously. Such fiercely guarded constructions and returned to Ife. river deity demanded Moremi’s only son, Oluorogbo. produced the stories and statues of Moremi. The river’s demand sent the whole kingdom of Ife into Immediately after arriving there, Moremi informed yet another confusion. Why would Moremi sacrifice her people that the Ugbo masquerades were actually her only son to the river? Then they began to appeal to humans who only wore raffia leaves (a plant that was the river deity, pledging to give the river anything else not common in Ife) as costumes. She taught the Ife but Oluorogbo, the only son of Moremi. The river deity The Ugbo masquerade raiders at (...arrive at Ife...), see (disguised) people that the raffia could easily catch fire. Whenever refused all attractive offers and insisted on having peasant Moremi and kidnap her. the kidnappers returned for their expeditions, all the Moremi’s only son.
2 6 | FI E LD R E SE A R CH FIEL D RES EARCH | 2 7 WOMEN, DEPENDENCY AND YORUBA SOCIETIES Finally, the story of Moremi reveals the paradoxical The story of Meremi mirrors the multiple roles of beliefs of the Yoruba about women. The beliefs apply Yoruba women: Ife and Ugboland depended on Moremi differently to the two kingdoms in question, but are for her economic, mother and wife roles. While both both tied to dependencies. Ife kingdom erected the men and women traded, women embodied and dom- statue of Moremi as a legendary saviour because of KANO inated the economy. Women controlled all internal the belief in her as a public mother who prioritized the trades in Yorubaland. When the economy of a kingdom wellbeing of her children – the people of Ife – over her boomed, women took the praise; during a recession, personal safety and joy. In this sense, while the Yoruba women became desperate and vulnerable and did honoured women, the women in question had to merit everything to find solutions. This is why Moremi, a such honour by performing extra-ordinary services. wealthy trader, did everything possible – risking her Moremi was not the only woman in Ife kingdom, but N I GER I A own life and sacrificing her only son – to restore the she merits her representation because her services to economic power of the great Ife kingdom. mankind were regarded as exceptional. ABUJA “ The story of Meremi mirrors the multiple roles of Yoruba women. Women embodied and dominated the economy. This is why Moremi, a wealthy trader, did everything “ The story of Moremi reveals the paradox- ical beliefs of the Yoruba about women. Ife kingdom honoured Moremi the saviour because she prioritized the wellbeing of I BA DA N possible – risking her own life and sacrific- the people of Ife over her personal safety ing her only son – to restore the economic and joy. Ugboland portrays Moremi as a ” L AG OS power of the great Ife kingdom. kneeling wife pleading for forgiveness to hint that the wife as an outsider is the ” only one subjected to betrayal. The story of Meremi mirrors the multiple roles of Yoruba women. Women embodied and dominated the economy. This is why Moremi, a wealthy trader, did Ugboland portrays Moremi as a kneeling wife pleading everything possible – risking her own life and sacri- for forgiveness to hint that the wife as an outsider is ficing her only son – to restore the economic power of the only one subjected to betrayal. The statue demon- the great Ife kingdom. strates the Yoruba way of constructing insiders and outsiders. Insiders were the direct descendants of Age served as one category of hierarchies among founders of households or communities, while outsid- the Yoruba. The older you got, the more respect you ers were those who joined household or communities. enjoyed from the younger members of your household Incest was forbidden among the Yoruba. Marriage A photo taken in the 1940s by Rev. J Michael Walsh during the and from society as whole. Nevertheless, the respect Moremi Edi re-enactment festivals in Ife. served as one of the means of constructing outsiders. accrued to old age did not come for free, because old (Courtesy: The University of Ibadan Library). Note the costumes Nevertheless, while the outsiders boost the popula- of the Ugbo-type masquerade made from Raffia leaves, and the age also entailed responsibilities. Responsibilities elaborate face and head masks. tion (through the motherhood of wives) in addition varied, just as people differed in capacity. As the to rendering labour and other services, they were wealth of trading women increased with age, they regarded as strangers and were often treated with were expected to contribute to their communities: her chief responsibility was to bear children and boost suspicion. The suspicion originated from the Yoruba in time of peace they sponsored festivals and other the population of her spouse’s household. A barren belief that outsiders always owed allegiance to their ceremonies; in time war they not only led, but also woman became the object of scorn while her husband own communities of origin and were thus liable to provided food and medical support for, the soldiers. rarely got blamed. When misfortune occurred in a betrayal. However, such belief and restrictions did not These contributions enabled old women to earn fur- household, (barren) wives became the prime suspect. extend to the services rendered by the outsiders. ther the title of “Iya” or “public mother”. Old women On the other hand, her ability to bear children was who failed to render services for their communities, translated to her support for her marital household lost respect and got terrible nicknames; it was not as she consequently gained acceptance and respect. unusual for Yoruba communities to ostracize a stingy, Malik Ade wealthy woman and tag her as enemy of the state. Notably, not all Yoruba women became wives. Social Is doctoral researcher status intersected women’s identities so that women at the Bonn Center for Also, the Yoruba people valued themselves according of noble descent or of certain religious or occupa- Dependency and Slavery to the size of their households. Heads of household tional background rarely became wives. This category Studies. He explores the became fulfilled when their household grew bigger. of women remained in their own family household or constructions of identities in sub-Sahran Africa, Women played significant roles in growing the popu- founded their own, and thus evaded the role of wife. especially as the people negotiate with lation of households. This was done through marriage. The story of Moremi only portrays Moremi as a wife historical and sociopolitical experiences. A woman became a wife when she got married and after her status has changed to slave and after she relocated to the household of her spouse. As a wife, has been relocated to Ugboland.
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