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DEPENDENT - SLAVERY WITHOUT SLAVES? - Bonn ...
THE MAGAZINE OF THE BONN CENTER FOR DEPENDENCY AND SLAVERY STUDIES

DEPENDENT
20 | 2

                                                               SLAVERY
                                                               WITHOUT
                                                               SLAVES?
                                                               PAGE 4

                             FELLOW‘S           EVENTS               CONFERENCES, LECTURE
                             REPORT             PROGRAM              SERIES AND OTHER EVENTS
                             PAGE 11            PAGE 38              PAGE 42
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2 | TABLE OF CONTE N T S

                                                              CUBA
04 | S PECIAL FOCUS                                           P. 2 8

08 | O PINION

11 | FELLOW‘S R E PORT                                                 G UI N E A
                                                                       B I S S AU
16 | I NTE RVIE W                                                      P. 3 2

2 2 | I N ME MOR IA M

2 5 | NEWS

2 6 | FI ELD R E SE A R CHE RS ’ REP ORT S

38 | EV E NTS PR OGR A M                     NI C A R AG UA
                                             P. 3 6
4 0 | NEW PUBLICATION S

42 | CONF E R E NCE S

51 | I MPR INT
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R E SE A R CH ARE AS | 3

                                         I R AQ
                                         P. 3 4

                 MALI
                 P. 1 1
                                   I SR A E L
                                   P. 4 4

                          ANGOLA
                          P. 3 2

SÃO TOM É
E P R ÍN CI PE
P. 32

                                       Our research will contribute to the academic debate on numerous and varied
                                       expressions of strong asymmetrical dependencies from a trans-regional
                                       and deep-time perspective. We are interested in social processes in order to
                                       better understand why and how distinct forms of asymmetrical dependencies
                                       emerged in different places and periods. Our aim is to identify the factors
                                       behind their development over time. Therefore, our research looks at a diverse
                                       range of places across the world. In this magazine, we focus on the blue-
                                       colored regions; the ones marked in yellow are ongoing projects of other of the
                                       Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies’ scholars.
DEPENDENT - SLAVERY WITHOUT SLAVES? - Bonn ...
4 | S P EC IA L FOC US

          SLAVERY
          WITHOUT
          SLAVES?
          Law and the legitimacy
          of asymmetrical dependencies.

          Martin J. Schermaier

          Every society organizes itself into different forms of dependency, many of which are asymmetrical. They
          may be forms of personal dependency which exist only between particular individuals and only for a limited
          period of time; or they may be institutionalized forms, which assign certain roles and behaviors to certain
          groups of people.

                                                                WHAT IS INSTITUTIONALIZED DEPENDENCY?

                                                                The range of conceivable dependencies is large: if per-
                                                                son A asks person B to pass the bread basket during a
                                                                meal together and B complies with this request, they
                                                                do so in the expectation that A would do the same if
                                                                asked. Person A is aware of this expectation, and so
                                                                by asking B to do something A tacitly agrees to do
                                                                the same, or something similar, for B. We call this
                                                                courtesy, but there is also a form of attachment here
                                                                that structures the social behavior of A and B: B has
                                                                done A a favor, so A knows they are beholden to B. This
                                                                is nothing other than a form of personal, and at the
                                                                same time situational, dependency. If B were the child
                                                                or the paid domestic help of A, this mutual expecta-
                                                                tion would not exist. There would be no obligation on
                                                                person A to return the favor for person B. Children and
                                                                parents, domestic workers and employers are in an
                                                                institutionalized form of dependency where any ser-
                                                                vice rendered by one party has already been matched
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SP ECI A L FO CU S | 5

                                                           THE VIEW FROM INSIDE:
                                                           “INTERNAL REGULATIONS” OF DEPENDENCY

                                                           One might think that a society’s internal regulations
                                                           are based on how that society legitimizes its social
                                                           hierarchies. In fact, research by legal historians has
                                                           shown that this is often not the case. One example are
                                                           legal regulations for slaves and freedmen in ancient
                                                           Roman law, which in some respects resemble mod-
                                                           ern labor law down to the last detail. There are also
                                                           parallels in the economy: the division of labor always
                                                           follows the same pattern, in its basic structures at
                                                           least: on the one hand are those who plan, set up and
                                                           monitor processes; on the other, there are those who
                                                           carry them out.

                                                           How exactly such hierarchies of agency are framed in
                                                           law is irrelevant for the actual degree of dependency
                                                           suffered by the workers. Only from our modern
                                                           perspective is there a crucial difference between
                                                           an employee who is the property of their employer,
                                                           and an employee owing labor to them: property,
                                                           for us, carries a much broader meaning than it did in
                                                           antiquity. We construct employment relationships as
                                                           being entered into and terminated by contract and, as
                                                           such, on a voluntary basis – by doing this we largely
                                                           ignore social or economic constraints. These days the
                                                           global division of labor has reached a level that means
                                                           we can no longer see these constraints. In European
                                                           history the internal legal structure of dependency
                                                           relations appears to be largely interchangeable; this
by a service provided by the other. Being embedded in      is partly due to the fact that this internal structure
a regular exchange relationship means that no new          usually follows the pattern laid down by ancient
expectations – and so no new dependencies – arise in       Roman law. So a shared normative heritage underpins
the case given.                                            the phenomenological similarities of dependency
                                                           relations.

“    It is the task of jurists to detect rules
     within institutionalized forms of
     dependency and to resolve conflicts
                                                           “    We construct employment relationships
                                                                as being entered into and terminated

                             ”
     between the parties.                                       by contract and, as such, on a voluntary
                                                                basis – by doing this we largely ignore

                                                                                                 ”
                                                                social or economic constraints.
Jurists have the task to detect the rules within such
institutionalized forms of dependency and so to
resolve conflicts between the conflicting parties.         However, most people would not equate modern
But how are dependencies institutionalized in the          working conditions with ancient slavery. What would
first place? The decisive factor is to read dependency     chained galley slaves have in common with unionized
itself as a regular occurrence, as part of the normative   workers? It’s a drastic example, but even here we
order. However, in the European tradition, this sort       can find legal commonalities, such as the ability of
of interpretation was originally the province not of       employers to sanction non-performance. This exam-
jurists, but of theologians and philosophers.              ple makes clear that a purely legalistic approach to
                                                           dependency is useless. Dependencies are social phe-
                                                           nomena; as such they are best described in sociologi-
                                                           cal terms. Law merely provides the normative frame-
                                                           work for classifying various forms of dependency
                                                           and situating them within our contemporary notions
DEPENDENT - SLAVERY WITHOUT SLAVES? - Bonn ...
6 | S P ECIAL FOC US

         of conflict resolution. While the terms required to do
         this are arbitrary and subject to change, the number of
         legal instruments is comparatively small.                     “    A slave’s lived reality was determined by
                                                                            their master, in a way that was largely
                                                                            free from legal constraints. The law
                                                                            only determined how a person became a
                                                                            slave, how they could be freed, and what
         THE VIEW FROM OUTSIDE:                                             role a slave might have in their master’s

                                                                                                                           ”
         LEGITIMIZING DEPENDENCY                                            property and with regards to third parties.

         While it is characteristic of institutionalized forms of
         dependency that they are enshrined in law, dependency         From the third century onwards, this rather unambig-
         is not created by law. Instead, law plays an important        uous world came under increasing pressure from two
         role on a different level, namely concerning the ques-        directions: from (a) new forms of strong asymmetri-
         tion which dependencies are compatible with the legal         cal dependency that were coming into being, and (b)
         concepts of their period. So this concerns the “external”     Christian teachings.
         part of institutional dependency, the question of its
         legitimation. While legitimacy discourses seek to align
         with internal regulations that govern dependency rela-          a) There was a shortage of slaves in a number of
         tions, their aim is not to argue in favor of the legitimacy         different sectors, particularly in agriculture.
         of existing inequality, but instead to justify existing             The once abundant supply of prisoners of war,
         regulations. The legitimation of dependency relations               who had been sold as slaves, dried up and came
         is not rooted in the existing order, but in prepositive             to a complete standstill for several decades.
         notions of how an ideal society should look like.                   New forms of dependency developed under the
                                                                             guise of private law, which obliged artisans and
         We frequently underestimate such notions of order.                  their descendants to stick to certain trades, and
         One of them is the division of people into free and                 tied tenant farmers to their land. The resulting
         unfree, which originated in antiquity. It is an attrac-             social classes would go on to define the social
         tively simple classification: unfree people are slaves,             order of the Middle Ages.
         while free people are not. This notion suggests that
         unfreedom is clearly delineated. Even modern Western            b) Christian teachings hold that before God, there
         societies believe that where there is no slavery, there             is no difference between free and unfree: the
         is equality. Whether we achieve this goal depends                   death of Christ redeems all believers regard-
         solely on the definition of who is a slave. The narrower            less. Neither apostles nor church fathers drew
         the definition, the sooner we have attained perfection.             social-revolutionary conclusions from this, but
                                                                             the ecclesiology of the early church in particular
                                                                             is characterized by a strong conviction that the
         OLD CERTAINTIES, NEW DOUBTS                                         division into free and unfree was irrelevant.
                                                                             Slaves could become priests and bishops, and
         European legal history is also marked by efforts to                 marriages between unfree and free were valid
         eliminate slavery by definition. Ancient societies took             in the eyes of God. We have reports from the
         the existence of slaves for granted. Educated people                Early and the High Middle Ages of churches and
         could quote Aristotle on some peoples being masters                 monasteries that freed all their slaves. Scho-
         by nature, while others are slaves by nature. Slavery               lastic theologists accepted slavery as a reality
         existed in all Mediterranean societies. This fact was               but described it as praeter naturam, unwanted
         invoked by jurists confronted with the Stoic argument              by God.
         that all men are equal. Even significant differences in
         the social positions of individual slaves (and individual
         free people) did not change the division of the world         EUROPE’S FIG LEAF
         into “unfree” and “free”. Slaves might be treated like
         beasts, or they might undertake important social              Especially in Central and Western Europe these two
         tasks, depending on how their masters decided to              tendencies led to the widespread denial of slavery.
         use them. A slave’s lived reality was determined by           Around the year 1500 jurists claimed that slavery had
         their master, in a way that was largely free from legal       ceased to exist, and a short while later the French
         constraints. The law only determined how a person             political philosopher Jean Bodin claimed that slavery
         became a slave, how they could be freed, and what             had become extinct in Western Europe by 1520. But
         role a slave might have in their master’s property and        more than a century later, in 1645, the Pomeranian
         with regards to third parties.                                lawyer David Mevius used Roman slave law to argue
                                                                       that serfs displaced from the lands of their masters in
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SP ECI A L FO CU S | 7

the turmoil of the Thirty Years’ War must return there.    Quotes
Here, as in all other cases of unwaged labor, slave law    Gaii Institutiones 1.9: Et quidem summa divisio de iure preso-
served as a normative framework for clarifying the         narum haec est, quod omnes homines aut liberi sunt aut servi
                                                           “The principal division of the law of persons is the following,
legal relationship between masters and laborers.
                                                            namely, that all men are either free or slaves.”

This tension between, on the one hand, a discourse         Domitius Ulpianus 50.17.32: Quod attinet ad ius civile, servi pro
of legitimacy that denied slavery and, on the other, a     nullis habentur: non tamen et iure naturali, quia, quod ad ius
practice in which slave law was applied, was sustained     naturale attinet, omnes homines aequales sunt.
by social conditions and supported by regulations. By      “As far as civil law is concerned, slaves are not regarded as
the High Middle Ages, classical slavery had come to         persons; but this is different according to natural law, because
                                                            as far as natural law is concerned, all men are equal.”
be replaced by other forms of dependency (serfdom,
feudalism, the guilds), some of which are explicitly       C. 29 qu. 2 c. 1 (Pope Julian I, † 352): Omnibus nobis unus pater
differentiated from slavery. The leading moral author-     est in coelis, et unusquisque, dives et pauper, liber et servus,
ity, the Roman Church, allowed the enslavement of          equaliter pro se et pro animabus eorum rationem reddituri sunt.
non-Christians, at least in those cases where they had     “ We all have one father in heaven, and each one, whether
been captured in a just war or had sold themselves. It      rich or poor, free or slave, must answer equally for himself
turned a blind eye to the slave trade flourishing in the    and for the souls of others.”
Mediterranean, in which Venice and Genoa took an
active part.

“
                                                                                      Prof. Dr. Martin J. Schermaier
                                                                                      is Professor of Roman Law and Civil Law at the
     By the High Middle Ages classical slavery                                        University of Bonn, Director of the Institute for
     had come to be replaced by other forms                                           Roman Law and Comparative Legal History, and
     of dependency: serfdom, feudalism, the                                           a full member of the North Rhine-Westphalian

            ”
     guilds.                                                                          Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Arts.
                                                                                      He teaches and researches classical Roman
                                                                      private law, current German civil law and the history of ideas of
                                                                      European law in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period.
History would repeat itself a few centuries later in the              He is a Principal Investigator in the Cluster of Excellence
abolition movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth                   “Beyond Slavery and Freedom” and Speaker of Research Area C
centuries: While trans-Atlantic slavery was rejected                  (“Institutions, Norms and Practices”).
and fought against, other forms of strong asymmetri-
cal dependency — such as serfdom, the sale of children                Publications
and increasingly wage labor — were tolerated or even                  Materia: Beiträge zur Frage der Naturphilosophie im klassischen
                                                                      römischen Recht (Forschungen zum Römischen Recht, vol. 38).
newly created. Anything that was not the one rejected
                                                                      Vienna/Cologne/Weimar 1992, pp. 341.
type of dependency (which was always dubbed “slav-
ery”) appeared legitimate. There was no teleological                  Die Bestimmung des beachtlichen Irrtums von den Glossatoren
weighing or functional comparison of different forms                  bis zum BGB (Forschungen zur Neueren Privatrechtsgeschichte,
of dependency, at least not in the dominant discourse.                vol. 29). Vienna/Cologne/Weimar 2000, pp. 789.

                                                                      From Meticulous Guide to Average Joe: The Reasonable Man –
                                                                      German Style. In: Modelli teorici e metodologici nella storia del
NEW QUESTIONS
                                                                      diritto privato, vol. 4. Naples 2012, 419–442.

From a historical and especially from a legal-histor-                 Borrowed Plumes and Robbed Freedmen: Some Aspects of
ical point of view, however, what is interesting is not               Plagiarism in Roman Antiquity. In: A. Burrows, D. Johnston, R.
only this tension between the rejection of slavery                    Zimmermann (eds.): Essays in Memory of Lord Rodger. Oxford
on the one hand, and the legitimization of slave-like                 2013, 237–249.
conditions on the other. It is just as important to find
                                                                      Dominus actuum suorum: Die willenstheoretische Begründung
out how the “internal regulations” of these condi-
                                                                      des Eigentums und das römische Recht. In: SZ 134 (2017) 49–105.
tions went on to develop. Was Roman slave law (or
freedperson law) really formative for how modern                      Contemporary Use of Roman Rules: Prescription and Limitation
labor law developed? What impact did discourses                       in the Usus Modernus Pandectarum. In: H. Dondorp, D. Ibbetson,
of legitimacy have on the shaping of this law? How                    E.J.H. Schrage (eds.): Limitation and Prescription. Berlin 2019,
did medieval and modern jurists legally shape forms                   297–336.
of strong asymmetrical dependency? We still need
                                                                      Habebant omnia communia: Überlegungen zum Gemeineigen-
answers to these and many other questions, and over
                                                                      tum in Philosophie, Theologie und Recht. In: H. Dondorp, M.
the coming years the Bonn Center for Dependency and                   Schermaier, B. Sirks (eds.): De rebus divinis et humanis. Essays in
Slavery Studies will address them.                                    honour of Jan Hallebeek. Göttingen 2019, 225–247.
DEPENDENT - SLAVERY WITHOUT SLAVES? - Bonn ...
8 | O P INION

         ON THE POLITICAL
         DIMENSION OF
         QUARANTINE:
         A LOOK BACK
         Lisa Hellman

         The history of quarantine is a history of power and xenophobia. These reflections by Lisa Hellman, a
         researcher at the Cluster of Excellence “Beyond Slavery and Freedom” at the University of Bonn, were
         published in the Lebenszeichen (“signs of life”) series on the university’s website. Contributions to this
         series were written under the impression of the measures imposed to control the corona virus pandemic by
         members of the university.
                                                               This situation we are currently in is exceptional,
                                                               unprecedented. And yet we have seen it all before:
                                                               in black and white images from the Spanish Flu; or, in
                                                               a museum case somewhere, those suits like creepy
                                                               penguins worn by plague doctors. Both are testament
                                                               to human ingenuity in trying to protect ourselves
                                                               against disease. But a look back into history also
                                                               shows those who were made to pay the price in such
                                                               exceptional times.

                                                                There are various explanations for why a quarantine
                                                                should last forty days. Some point to Hippocrates’
                                                                theories about forty days as a tipping point for dis-
                                                                ease. Others look to the Bible: when God flooded the
                                                                earth, he made it rain for forty days and forty nights.
                                                                Jesus spent forty days fasting in the wilderness. All
                                                                we know for certain is that in Europe, the concept
                                                                of separating the sick from the healthy goes back to
                                                                antiquity. But theories about epidemics exist outside
                                                                of Europe as well. Ancient Chinese records from about
                                                                1000 BC onwards, for example, documented out-
                                                                breaks of the plague as well as different quarantine
DEPENDENT - SLAVERY WITHOUT SLAVES? - Bonn ...
OPIN IO N | 9

                                                                       Chevalier Roze à la Tourette by Michel Serre (1658–1733) shows
                                                                       the impact of the plague epidemic in Marseilles in 1720.
                                                                       The painting is now displayed in the Musée Atger in Montpelier.

practices. So we have records going back thousands         exactly was the plague? Where did it rage? And just
of years about isolating patients, as well as about        how many people did it kill? Estimates on mortality
observing and healing them.                                vary wildly, between five and sixty percent of the
                                                           global population – a huge difference. But there is one

“
                                                           thing we can learn from measures taken against the
     In Europe, the concept of separating                  plague: then as now, the struggle against infection
     the sick from the healthy goes back to                was a constant balancing act between economic

               ”
     antiquity.                                            losses, human contact and the fear of death.

The term “quarantine” reflects an interconnected           THE HISTORY OF QUARANTINE IS A HISTORY
world from the start. It was first used in medieval        OF POWER AND XENOPHOBIA
Venice. Faced with the Black Death, the leaders of the
trading hub authorized a committee to detain ships,        For centuries, quarantine has been both a medical and
cargoes and individuals in the Venice lagoon for up to     a political practice; as such, it sheds light on the cru-
forty days. Over the course of time these quaranta         cial role of race and class. As I write, it has emerged
giorni turned into a quarantinario. Eventually the         in New York that African Americans are much harder
period of isolation was reduced to thirty days – a         hit both economically and medically by the corona
trentinario – but the original name stuck.                 virus than the White population. This is not a surprise.
                                                           Historically, minorities and the poor have repeatedly
As a matter of fact, much of what we know about            been hardest hit by epidemics – and blamed for
practices of quarantine and beliefs about infectious       spreading them.
diseases in the past comes from disease outbreaks,
not least the fourteenth-century outbreak of the           So the history of quarantine is not only a story about
Black Death. That is a little ironic, because even after   medical and scientific progress, but also about power.
almost seven centuries of research, there is still         Quarantine hospitals in Venice like the lazzaretto
disagreement about fundamental questions: What             on the island of Santa Maria di Nazareth – today’s
DEPENDENT - SLAVERY WITHOUT SLAVES? - Bonn ...
10 | OPINION

       Lazzaretto Vecchio – looked after new arrivals. But          So-called “camp girls” were similarly stigmatized in
       they also served to isolate locals who had fallen ill        the United States during the First World War. As more
       with the plague from the healthy. More such hospitals        and more US soldiers suffered from venereal disease,
       came into being over time, but the practices they            it was the women (“girls”) who were given the blame.
       employed varied. One was built in Philadelphia in 1799       They had to undergo compulsory venereal disease
       after a yellow fever epidemic: but in order to protect       tests and were imprisoned in droves, because it was
       European colonists, not to look after the health of the      women were seen as a serious threat to success in
       enslaved. Its purpose was to ensure the economic             war. More than 30,000 sex workers were imprisoned
       sustainability of the slave trade from an epidemiolog-       in the U.S. even after they had been found to be free
       ical perspective.                                            of disease.

                                                                    “
       Over time, calls for quarantine became increasingly
       intertwined with xenophobia. In 1892, ships carrying              Quarantine has always been a political
       Russian Jewish immigrants arrived at Ellis Island.                issue, and still is today. In most cases it
       Some of the passengers were sick with typhoid and                 served to isolate particular sections of

                                                                                  ”
       cholera. Soon, there was an outbreak of anti-Sem-                 society.
       itism. Even the front page of the New York Times
       proclaimed, “We don’t need this kind of riff-raff on our
       shores.” Around 1900, Chinese residents of San Fran-         All of these stories show that quarantine has always
       cisco were targeted. Fearing an outbreak of bubonic          been a political issue, and still is today. In most cases
       plague, the city authorities completely quarantined          it served to isolate particular sections of society
       a 12-square-block section of Chinatown for several           – fortunately, this is no longer the case. But this is
       days, causing many Chinese laborers to lose their jobs.      precisely why we must never stop to ask these funda-
       This led to fierce public discussions about whether to       mental questions: who can be quarantined, who must
       mass-deport Chinese citizens.                                be quarantined? Who requires protection, and who
                                                                    may be left without protection? Whose movement
       In a similar way, quarantine regulations were used           may be restricted and at what cost? Is cross-border
       to restrict African Americans. Early in the nineteenth       travel a threat or an opportunity? If these questions
       century many southern states of the United States            are not regularly reassessed, the answers adapted
       passed so-called Negro Seamen Acts, which banned             accordingly, the most fundamental values of our soci-
       Black sailors from disembarking from their ships,            ety will suffer. Infectious diseases, and pandemics in
       stigmatizing them as “dangerous outsiders”. Their            particular, put any society under enormous pressure.
       presence, it was argued, would cause “outside agi-           The way we act in these situations not only reveals a
       tation” in the slave regions of the South. Any form of       society’s values and resources: it also lays bare the
       racial unrest and slave revolt was attributed to their       cracks and inequalities deep within its social fabric.
       “moral contagion”. The fact that these Negro Seamen
       Acts were also referred to as “quarantines” illustrates
       the extent to which notions of contagion can go far
       beyond purely physical disease.

       There can also be a gender-specific dynamic to
       ideas about infection and measures of isolation. In                                                     Dr. Lisa Hellman
       eighteenth-century Great Britain, ports represented                                                     is leader of the Research
       the nation’s strength, symbolizing maritime power                                                       Group “Coerced Circulation of
                                                                                                               Knowledge” at the Bonn Center
       as well as economic prosperity. On the other hand, a
                                                                                                               for Dependency and Slavery
       port could be a place of weakness, making England                                                       Studies. She works in the
       vulnerable to disease. The movements of sailors were                                                    intersection between social,
       regarded as a threat to the nation’s collective health,                                 cultural, maritime and global history, with a
       which is why there were demands to quarantine both                                      special interest in gender. In the last years,
       sailors themselves and the women with whom they                                         her research has led her to pay increased
       interacted. Fear of the transmissibility of plague and                                  attention to diplomatic history and the history
                                                                                               of science. In her current project, she follows
       syphilis led to tensions along class lines. It was alleged
                                                                                               eighteenth century prisoners of war in Siberia
       that relationships with sex workers contaminated the                                    and North Asia. The core question driving Lisa
       otherwise pure domestic sphere with “vile diseases”,                                    is how intercultural interaction changed the
       endangering the welfare and future of the nation.                                       lives of the men and women involved.
F E L LO W ‘ S RE PO RT | 11

As a visiting Heinz Heinen Fellow at the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, I proposed to
work with the discursive displacements of the language of slavery in both colonial and contemporary West
African settings. To that end, I investigated the use of slavery-related vocabularies in court cases. In this
piece, I explain and discuss how it is possible that more than a century after the formal abolition of slavery
by French colonial officers, court cases related to so-called “descent-based slavery” are to be found in 2020,
with a special focus on Mali.

                                                        From 2017, social media platforms linked to Soninke
BREAKING THE SILENCE?                                   communities in West Mali all of a sudden abounded
THE ONGOING LEGACIES                                    with horrible images of people being beaten, mothers
                                                        and children with bleeding eyes, heads and bellies; old
OF INTERNAL AFRICAN                                     and young people chased from their houses, or locked
                                                        up for several days naked in their houses; people tied
SLAVERY IN MALI                                         up with ropes and beaten over a stone, the destruction
                                                        of goods and gardens. The online debates mentioned
Lotte Pelckmans                                         pro- and anti-slavery groups and accused each other
                                                        of being part of one or the other. The victims, the large
                                                        majority of which are illiterate, deposited claims with
                                                        the police and some cases went to court, thanks to
                                                        help of anti-slavery activists as well as family and
                                                        friends in the very large diaspora.

                                                        How, after decades of public silence on slavery, can
                                                        we explain this sudden outbreak of violence directly
                                                        mentioning “slavery” issues from 2017 to date? Many
                                                        people believe that this issue should remain hidden
12 | FE LLOW‘S R E PORT

        and not be talked about, but others are revolting and       strong taboos on social change continue to operate
        calling for change, by trying to lift the silence and the   in the moral economy of many Soninke communities,
        taboos. This generates intense friction and tension,        also in the provinces of Diema and Nioro (see map
        which sometimes results in violence. Our newly              below), where the violence started in 2017.
        funded project on the protracted rural displacements
        of people with slave descent aims to answer this fric-
        tion in more depth in the future. I present here three
        non-exhaustive and rather preliminary explanations:
                                                                                          Yelimane
                                                                                                     Nioro

          • first, the quest for honor and the respecting of
           silence;                                                          Kayes                            Diema

          • second, interregional protests by groups with
           slave status and
                                                                                         Bafoulabe
          • third, strong out-migration which affects the
                                                                                                             Kita
           economy but not so much the ideas people
           have about social status which involves several
           socially acceptable forms of exclusion and
           inequality.                                                               Kenieba

        The common thread that runs through this text is the
        case of only one among several activists who started
        breaking the silence. While privileging his story and       Mali with the Kayes region
        voice, I am aware of many more people affected by           (marked yellow) and the na-
                                                                    mes of its provinces.
        and active in this issue in very different ways.

        HONOR AND RESPECTING ONE’S PLACE

        My first explanation for the current frictions is that,     WEST AFRICAN ANTI-SLAVERY MOVEMENTS
        while social hierarchies inherited from the internal
        African slave past continue to be alive in almost every     My second explanation is linked to regional anti-slav-
        ethnic group in Mali, they are surrounded by silence        ery activism. Nioro and Diema provinces are very close
        and strong taboos on problematizing the inequalities        to south-east Mauritania, and historically cross-bor-
        and discriminations linked to them. Honorability is         der interactions are common. On local radio, Malians
        strongly related to restraint and avoiding all forms of     learn about the successes scored by the Initiative pour
        public display of dissent and emotion.                      la Resurgence du mouvement Abolitioniste (Initiative
                                                                    for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist movement IRA)

        “
                                                                    Mauritania; an anti-slavery movement headed by a
              Strong taboos on social change continue               charismatic leader called Biram who denounces the
              to operate in the moral economy of many               use of religious arguments to discriminate against

                                      ”
              Soninke communities.                                  people with slave status.

                                                                    Despite his frequent imprisonment, Biram entered
        Everyone should “know his/her head” and respect             national politics as an opposition MP and ran as presi-
        their place in society. A person is born into a certain     dential candidate in 2019. He is popular, mainly among
        social group with rights and obligations and this           urban young people of slave descent in Mauritania.
        should not be questioned. Knowing how to keep silent        Ahmet Coulibaly (infra) says IRA-Mauritania inspired
        on these issues is part of earning respectability, and      him to become an anti-slavery activist himself in Mali.
        compliance with social norms and regulations is             Apart from IRA, there are several other anti-slavery
        highly valued. Denouncing injustices related to one’s       movements and organizations in neighboring Sene-
        social status in the social hierarchy is “like taking       gal, Niger and Mali which have become more visible
        down the pants of one’s father”, according to a local       over the past decades. I have anayzed the emergence
        saying: it insults the family and its ancestors. Thus       of several of these movements in the past.
F E L LO W ‘ S R E PO RT | 13

SPATIAL VERSUS SOCIAL MOBILITY                              in Paris or in Mali, and whether first, second or third
                                                            generation immigrant, (the families of) those who try
Thirdly, Mali’s Kayes region, and especially the Son-       to cross the invisible lines of the hierarchy (e.g. mar-
inke groups living there, have known a very strong          rying into the “wrong” status group), are more often
out-migration since the colonial heyday, initially          than not severely punished through – transnationally
mainly to Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Central Africa;      imposed – “embargoes”.
and from the 1970s onwards mostly to France, and
more recently also to southern Africa as well as            Such embargoes are used as an effective means of
Dubai, China, and other Asian destinations. This            punishment: the embargoed person or even his family
out-migration is very marked, and in many villages          back home, are no longer allowed to access vital ele-
this means that whole households are entirely made          ments of the village community: they cannot visit the
up of women, children and the elderly and depend on         market, fetch water, pray in the mosque, attend vil-
remittances sent by men living abroad.                      lage meetings, and so on. In the long term, this means
                                                            it is impossible to survive and it has resulted in some

“
                                                            people being forced to move out of their communities
     Most freeborn groups in Mali continue                  and settle elsewhere. It is these protracted forms of
     to have the monopoly over economic,                    displacement over the span of more than a century
     political and religious resources. However,            after the official abolition of internal slavery, which
     migration and trade have brought eco-                  our new project will study up close.
     nomic gain to other status groups as well,

                                        ”
     including those of slave descent.
                                                            THE QUEST FOR SOCIAL CHANGE

Although these strong diasporic tendencies and              Ahmet Coulibaly had spent most of his life outside
pronounced spatial mobilities did not necessarily           of Mali trading goods in Asia and the Gulf countries,
result in social mobility within traditional hierarchies,   before he decided to return and settle at home in 2017.
it did mean that economic success was no longer the         He was surprised by how status related inequalities
privilege of groups with freeborn status. While most        in his community seemed to have become stronger
freeborn groups in Mali continue to have the monop-         rather than weaker. He witnessed how people of slave
oly over economic, political and religious resources,       descent were not only exploited by local freeborn
migration and trade have brought economic gain to           groups, but relates that they were also the primary
other status groups as well, including those of slave       victims of raids by cross-border terrorist groups, who
descent. I met one of them, Ahmet Coulibaly, in Decem-      are destabilizing large parts of the Sahel.
ber 2018 in exile in the capital city of Bamako. Ahmet
has three wives and invested his trading fortunes           For the sake of his children’s future and inspired by
in a two-story brick house in his home village in the       IRA-Mauritania, Ahmet decided to denounce and speak
Diema region. Being totally illiterate himself, he wants    out about the discrimination against his status group:
to translate his economic success into emancipation         those presumably descended from slaves. In fact, he
and better chances for social climbing for his children     insists – as many others do – that his parents have
through schooling. However, due to their slave status,      never been “enslaved” as such, but rather, that they
and maybe also due to jealousies about their father’s       had been absorbed into the category of people with
economic success, his children are systematically           slave status, because in the past they had migrated
discriminated against. Bright and successful children       from one region to another. In order to get access to
of slave descent often face bullying or insults from        marriage and land, they had to accept incorporation
freeborn children in Mali. They may be ordered to           through absorption into the group of former slaves of
bring water or to give up their chair and sit lowly on      the local Soninke villages they wanted to settle in.
the floor – thus being “put in their place”.

TRANSNATIONAL SPACES OF MORALITY

Spatial movements out of the home communities
                                                            “    In Mali, the status as newcomers, outsid-
                                                                 ers or strangers can create an association
                                                                 with those who used to be slaves in the
                                                                 past, and which has now come to define
have thus not necessarily meant that people have                 people as part of the “descendants of

                                                                                                  ”
changed their ideologies about social order, inequality          slaves” of the local community.
and hierarchy. Indeed, the moral spaces of the Soninke
community have been strongly guarded and were
strongly reproduced in the diaspora. Whether living
14 | FELLOW‘S R E PORT

        So it was their status as newcomers, outsiders or            SOCIAL MEDIA VERSUS COURT LANGUAGE
        strangers that created their association with those
        who used to be slaves in the past, and which has now         Even though the courts are supposed to be neutral
        come to define them as part of the “descendants of           actors, they are in fact not. In a society where social
        slaves” of the local community. This means they are          hierarchies are not considered problematic and
        also anachronistically called slaves and – depending         inequality is part of everyday social organization,
        on their location – are expected to provide virtually        judges also operate on the ideology that people of
        unpaid labor on ritual occasions, as well as part of         slave status are of lesser value and have lesser rights.
        their incomes and/or remittances for the support and         On top of that, they can usually not pay (enough). This
        benefit of “freeborn” groups. Over time, these injus-        rigid status structure is so deeply entrenched in the
        tices have not been addressed and Malian journalist          society that even people in high positions who try to
        Diallo qualified this silent social conflict as a “ticking   denounce such discriminations risk being judged for
        time bomb”.                                                  violating tradition. Slave status has been declared
                                                                     officially inexistent in the region since the abolition
                                                                     of slavery by external colonial forces in 1905, but it
        BREAKING THE SILENCE THROUGH WHATSAPP                        has in actual practice been maintained and confirmed
                                                                     in daily interactions. A long history of debates over
        Ahmet, who is relatively rich but fully illiterate,          social status in religious ideologies and Islamic legis-
        started denouncing the worst forms of exploitation           lative practice has been actively mobilized by differ-
        against his group, including the systematic abuse of         ent groups to either validate or nuance contemporary
        married women with ascribed slave status, by people          inequalities based on social status.
        considered of “freeborn status”, thereby breaking the
        silence and social taboos surrounding both social            The court cases are now part of the struggle between
        (slave) status and sexual interactions. His platform:        pro and contra slavery or “historical freeborn” versus
        WhatsApp voice messages and radio. His messages              “slave” groups. Both groups (those with “freeborn”
        were strongly contested and considered shocking by           versus those with “slave” status) have been gathering
        many, but nevertheless inspired some people with             money among their respective diaspora members
        ascribed slave status to address local politicians, ask-     in order to bribe the judges and win the court cases.
        ing them to stop worse forms of discrimination, such         Paris-based informants have told me that even com-
        as calling them by the anachronistic and pejorative          munal village savings, made by all the active male
        word kome (“slave” in the Soninke language). In some         members of the village (both “freeborn” and of “slave”
        communities this was granted.                                descent), had been confiscated by the “freeborn” to
                                                                     bribe judges to their advantage. No court case so far
        However, in several other places, for the so-called          has been won by those with ascribed slave status.
        “freeborn groups”, who have already seen their eco-
        nomic power and privileges dwindling strongly over
        the past decades, this was one step too many on the          POLARIZATION AND LEXICONS OF SLAVERY
        road of changing power relations. In some localities
        (e.g. Kingui) a special unit of youngsters considered        While on social media the language of slavery is
        of freeborn status was installed to “guard” traditions       very commonly used, with self-declared pro- and
        and put the so-called “terrorist anti-slavery rebels”        anti-slavery groups, in Malian courts use of the
        in their place, even if this meant using violence. And       vocabulary of slavery/servility is prohibited by law.
        violence there was.                                          Following the abolition of both the slave trade and
                                                                     the internal African slave trade in French colonies in
        In 2018, the Rassemblement Malien pour la Fraternite         1905, slavery was supposed to be over and therefore
        et le Progres (RMFP, “Malian Association for Broth-          mentioning the social status of a person (slave/mas-
        erhood and Progress”), an association based in Paris         ter) has become officially impossible with time. This
        which fights against historical injustices in Soninke        means that the social issues of stigma, legacies and
        communities, wrote a memorandum in which at                  discrimination based on the slave past are not only
        least 26 cases of persecution have been described,           difficult, but officially illegal. Nevertheless, in some of
        documented with videos and photos and reported to            the 2018 court documents, the word “maîtres” (mas-
        the police. Since the police often chose side with the       ters) is openly used, while for the group of people with
        “freeborn” political elites, some of these cases were        slave status, the description “plaintiffs who [...] are
        taken to the local courts thanks to the financial help       restrained by circumstances of their attaining a lower
        of family members in the diaspora.                           social status” is used.
F E L LO W ‘ S R E PO RT | 15

“    The social issues of stigma, legacies and
     discrimination based on the slave past
     are not only difficult, but officially illegal.
     Nevertheless, in some court documents,
                                                                              Dr. Lotte Pelckmans
                                                                              is an anthropologist,
                                                                              interested in the cross-
     the word maîtres (masters) is openly                                     roads between Migration

           ”
     used.                                                                    and Slavery Studies. She
                                                                              has been trained at Leiden
                                                                              (NL) University and has
                                                             been working in Dutch, French, German
Secondly, people who are illiterate are usually not
                                                             and Danish Academia. Her work focuses
the principal actors in court: they need mediators,          on rights and the intersecting social and
and these mediators choose sides and have their own          spatial mobilities of people with slave
interests. The moral taboo on discussing the legacies        status, conflict and social media, as well
of slavery is a societal one, which is translated into an    as Anti-Slavery Movements in West Africa
institutional silence of the courts. As a result, there is   and the West African diaspora. Her work
a “glass ceiling” of access for the victims. As long as      has been published in Politique Africaine,
                                                             Journal of African History, Revue Euro-
there is no national law in the penal code legally crim-
                                                             péenne des migrations, and others.
inalizing the ongoing discrimination based on internal
legacies of slavery (such laws have been adopted in          Based at the Centre for Advanced Mig-
neighboring Niger and Mauritania), judging the worst         ration Studies at Copenhagen University
excesses of asymmetrical dependencies will remain            (DK), she is currently associate professor
very difficult.                                              and working on two research projects,
                                                             one focusing on court cases, literatures
                                                             and narratives of contemporary slavery
As long as such legal protections are not in place,
                                                             in Ghana (, the other one dealing with
Ahmet and some of his family members are in exile            the long history of protracted (invisible)
and dare not to put one foot outside of the compound         displacements related to (legacies of)
hosting them in the capital city of Bamako, for fear of      descent-based slavery in Mali
being recognized by a Soninke person. They can only          (slaveryforcedmigration.org).
envisage a return to their home village, where much
of their possessions have been destroyed, if legal           Links
                                                             https://tinyurl.com/LottePelckmans
reform can back up their return from exile.
                                                             https://tinyurl.com/LPelckmans

                                                             E-Mail: pelckmans@hum.ku.dk
16 | I NTE RVIE W

                     INTERVIEW:                             In our interview, Heinz Heinen Fellows STEFAN

              “
                                                            BRINK and CAROLINE LASKE and guest researcher
                     OUR MOTIVES                            and Capes-Humboldt Research Fellow PAULO
                     FOR A                                  CRUZ TERRA explain their motives for a research
                                                            stay in Germany, classify the research agenda of
                     RESEARCH STAY

                                             ”
                                                            our Cluster of Excellence, and evaluate their work
                     IN GERMANY                             during the corona virus crisis.

         You have been Fellows or Guest           is an individual task, and since the     is to have four strands of research,
         Researchers at the Bonn Center for       teaching and supervision burden is       the largest and most famous is
         Dependency and Slavery Studies           so heavy there, you do your research     Mathematics, of course, due to the
         (BCDSS) since October. What moti-        either during a sabbatical, or, more     long-time member Albert Einstein.
         vated you to apply for – generally       commonly, you apply for some             I was attached to the History team.
         speaking – doing research in Ger-        scholarship, fellowship or external      We all got an office of our own, fully
         many?                                    funding to buy some time for one         equipped. We were told we had
                                                  to three years. The research envi-       no obligation other than to do our
         Paulo Cruz Terra:                        ronment at UK universities is not        research and all the staff were there
         What is attractive in Germany is the     focused on seminars or workshops,        to help us achieve that. Twice a week
         massive investment in academia,          instead daily life is totally focused    there were voluntary seminars, of
         and more specifically in the human-      on undergraduate teaching                which one was more of a lecture, or
         ities, compared to other countries.                                               informing of your research during
         The Cluster of Excellence “Beyond        In Scandinavia you should ideally        a “working lunch” with some ques-
         Slavery and Freedom” is a concrete       have time to do research in your aca-    tions afterwards. The other smaller
         example of what could represent an       demic position, especially if you are    seminar, with a topic-focused group,
         actual policy in terms of research       a Professor. But it is also very com-    was more of a workshop, with a pre-
         since it supports innovative initia-     mon to apply for a research project      sentation of a topic or problem or a
         tives.                                   (especially in Sweden), where you        text, and then an hour plus intensive
                                                  are in a team and in that team you       discussion, chaired by a very knowl-
         Stefan Brink:                            can devote normally two to three         edgeable scholar. These seminars
         I was not aware of the Bonn Center       years to research on a specific topic,   were extremely fruitful and produc-
         for Dependency and Slavery Stud-         which can be disseminated in arti-       tive occasions, and ought to be a role
         ies and its research profile, but was    cles, conference volumes or a col-       model for every IAS.
         informed by a Bonn colleague of the      lection of articles in an edited vol-
         call, and it was recommended to me       ume. You are advised that trying to      As for Germany, I am not required
         that I apply , since I have been work-   get articles into prestigious journals   to visit a weekly Higher Seminar
         ing on Early Scandinavian slavery        is very important.                       (maybe I am misled here), however I
         for the last 25 years.                                                            have attended seminars focused on
                                                  The US system looks very much            the PhD students with staff attend-
                                                  like the UK one, with a nearly total     ing. As for the BCDSS, I think the IAS,
         How does research in Germany             focus on undergraduate teaching.         Princeton, model could be very use-
         differ from research in your home        However, in the US there are sev-        ful to adopt.
         countries? Is there a difference?        eral “Research Centers”, Institutes
                                                  of Advanced Studies, at the major        Caroline Laske:
         Stefan Brink:                            universities. My experience is from      Germany has an excellent reputa-
         Well, it depends on where this aca-      the Institute of Advanced Studies,       tion for encouraging, valuing and
         demic research is taking place. The      Princeton, which is considered to        funding fundamental research.
         normality, in the humanities, at e.g.    be one of the most important IAS in      As research budgets are being cut
         a UK University, is that your research   the world. The idea at IAS, Princeton,   everywhere, the first area that
I N TE RV IE W | 17

tends to be affected is fundamental       In your opinion, how does the          Do you consider dependency and
research. Germany appears not to          research agenda of the BCDSS fit       slavery studies to be fundamental
go down that short-sighted avenue.        into the current trends in depen-      and important for understanding
                                          dency and slavery research? Is it      contemporary societies? And if so,
Paulo Cruz Terra:                         complementary or does it extend        why?
The substantial difference between        the research framework?
Brazil and Germany in terms of                                                   Stefan Brink:
research is the investment and            Paulo Cruz Terra:                      Absolutely, since “asymmetrical
importance given to research by           The research agenda of the BCDSS       dependencies” are to be found in
the different governments. In Brazil,     contributes to improving a current     any society, now and in the past.
we are witnessing a considerable          tendency in my field of study, Labor   Studies of what is happening today
decrease in terms of public invest-       History, which is moving beyond the    are vital for a society that sees huge
ment in research, and there is also       dichotomy of “slavery” and “free-      migrations, which will affect many
not much private support there. The       dom”. Actually, the BCDSS extends      societies fundamentally, creating
actual government is downgrading          it by proposing the key concept of     social tension, trafficking, changes
the importance of science in gen-         “strong asymmetrical dependency”.      in workforce, begging, changing
eral, and frontally attacking the         This concept helps, for example,       minimum wage rules, growth of a
humanities – for example there was        to rethink the analysis of different   “precariat”, large groups of people
no funding for humanities subjects        labor relations – like convict and     never integrated into society. All
in the last public research programs.     tributary labor, serfdom, etc. – in    such things may lead to new and
Besides that, there are constant          terms of investigating the connec-     problematic asymmetrical depen-
attempts to constrain researchers’        tions and comparisons among            dency structures in societies, espe-
freedom, like the project to limit the    them. The research agenda of the       cially in western welfare states,
authorization to leave the country        BCDSS also extends the current ten-    which “must” be rather “static” to
to participate in academic events.        dency by including a diverse range     function. And to face such changes,
Authoritarian initiatives that target     of spaces and temporalities. It        we need to better understand such
research are on the increase in Brazil.   seems that the BCDSS will be, soon,    societal trends by studying the past,
                                          a reference on Labor History studies   wherefore historical studies are as
                                          and a crucial space of research in     vital as contemporary ones.

“
                                          this field.
      Authoritarian initiatives                                                  Caroline Laske:
      targeting research are on           Stefan Brink:                          The research agenda of the BCDSS
      the increase in my home             In my opinion the BCDSS has the        is highly interesting and very top-
      country, Brazil. However,           potential to be a, if not THE, lead-   ical. It has found a hitherto unoc-
      despite all precarious-             ing research center, depending on      cupied niche of extending slavery
      ness, many Brazilian                how the structure could be. At the     studies, not only beyond the trans-
      researchers are resilient           moment my impression is the focus      atlantic slavery trade phenomenon

                    ”
      and creative.                       is on the four Research Groups         but also to include other forms of
                                          with PhD students, writing their       dependencies, which highlight that
                                          dissertations. Then there is a lec-    slavery is a continuum that can-
                                          ture series with invited speakers,     not necessarily be stowed away
Another important distinction is in       informing us of ongoing research       in a particular box. In the innova-
the university structures. In Brazil,     in the field. The construction dif-    tive nature of this approach lies a
there are significant regional dis-       fers, hence, from many other Insti-    very high potential for becoming a
crepancies between public universi-       tutes of Advanced Studies, probably    world leading research center that
ties, and some of them are incredibly     depending on requisites stipulated     puts slavery in a larger context.
precarious in terms of working con-       in the Grant.
ditions. At the first university that I
worked, for example, the classroom        If this two-sided construction
was a container. Despite all precar-      shows to be useful and fruitful,
iousness, many Brazilian research-        maybe a second step could be to
ers are resilient and creative, and in    develop the non-PhD side of the
areas like slavery studies, the coun-     BCDSS to a world-leading research
try has an important role to play.        center, with invited fellows and
                                          affiliated Bonn academics with
                                          focused research groups and fre-
                                          quent internal workshops.
18 | I NTE RVIE W

                                                   This project I work on while at the       Furthermore, the research is also

        “
                                                   BCDSS contributes to decoding             related to the Research Group “Law
               The BCDSS has found                 asymmetrical dependencies by              and the Creation of Dependency in
               an unoccupied niche                 studying the legal status and legal       the Ibero-Atlantic”. This research
               of extending slavery                capacity of secular women in late         group devotes special attention to a
               studies, not only beyond            medieval England, Normandy, Flan-         crucial point of my research, which
               the transatlantic slavery           ders and Saxony. The lack of legal        is the process of reforms that nor-
               trade phenomenon but                capacity was the quintessential           mative orders underwent during
               also to include other               expression of their inferior position     the long nineteenth century, and
               forms of dependencies,              of dependency in society and in the       how these reforms impacted on the
               which highlight that                eyes of the law. This is particularly     construction of asymmetrical struc-
               slavery is a continuum              poignant in relation to the capacity      tures of group dependencies.
               that cannot necessarily             to hold land, to dispose of property,
               be stowed away in a                 to run a business, appear in a court of   My work analyzes how legislation,

                                ”
               particular box.                     law etc., even if only on a temporary     punishment and anti-vagrancy pol-
                                                   basis while their menfolk were away       icies entangled with multiple labor
                                                   on crusades, tied up with feudal          relations during the process of the
                                                   duties or fighting wars. In fact, mar-    abolition of slavery. It centers on the
         Paulo Cruz Terra:                         ried women frequently represented         period 1850–1910 and addresses the
         The current tendency of not only          the family unit and were engaged in       Lusophone world, with particular
         privileging wage labor is essential to    public business, either on their own      foci in Brazil – which was part of the
         emphasize the presence and inter-         behalf and in their own name or on        Portuguese Empire until 1822 – and
         action of multiple labor relations in     behalf of absent spouses.                 two of the most important colonies
         contemporary societies. Contempo-                                                   of the Portuguese Empire in Africa
         rary slavery, for example, is a reality   The research aims to reveal the           during this time frame: Mozambique
         in many countries, including Brazil.      extent of that legal dependency in        and Angola. Consulting the legisla-
         At the same time, by avoiding the         real, rhetorical and linguistic terms.    tion, and the debates connected to it,
         dichotomy “slavery” and “freedom”,        It involves examining the textual and     I intend to investigate how the idea
         it is possible to analyze the various     semantic representation of women          of vagrancy, and the punishment
         degrees of coercion present in cur-       in legal, quasi-legal and customary       for it, shaped the implementation of
         rent labor relations, including wage      law texts, as well as in reports of       new labor relations, and their reg-
         labor. All this is crucial to under-      (legal) disputes and private docu-        ulations, after the abolition, which
         standing the precariousness pres-         ments such as wills, by using dia-        were permeated by definitions of
         ent in the worlds of labor today, and     chronic linguistics and terminolog-       class, gender, race and age.
         has political importance in helping       ical methodologies. This allows us
         to denounce and fight against it.         to go beyond content analysis and         Stefan Brink:
                                                   get a better understanding of the         I am studying the kind of slavery,
                                                   actual social experience of wom-          dependencies and type of patronage
         What are your main areas of re-           en’s legal capacity by compounding        found in early Scandinavian society
         search, and how do your projects fit      information and data from analysis        (pre c. 1300). The period in question
         into the BCDSS research agenda?           of content, meanings, terminology         is one of the most expansive and
                                                   and discourse and, hence, providing       turbulent in Scandinavian history,
         Caroline Laske:                           a contextualized understanding of         with state formations, the Viking
         My research lies at the intersection      the dependencies in which women           phenomenon, the emerging towns
         of law, history and language, apply-      existed in their daily lives.             and a proto-urbanization, the mon-
         ing linguistic analysis to the study                                                etarization, the change of religion,
         of legal history and legal concepts,      Paulo Cruz Terra:                         the establishment of the Church,
         comparative law and translation. I        My research closely connects to the       the introduction of a “feudal” sys-
         research the linguistic expression of     Research Group “Punishment, Labor,        tem and so on. The question is, how
         normative concepts and the contin-        Dependency” as it addresses one of        did slavery function, what did the
         uous interaction between the way          its issues, i.e. on the one hand where    social fabric look like, what kind of
         (customary) laws create meaning           exactly to pinpoint punishment and        dependencies are we aware of and
         in language and how the normative         labor at the intersection of gender,      how repressive were they, how did
         power of language creates realities       class, ethnicity, race and age, and       society change with the introduc-
         in (customary) laws.                      on the other to determine how pun-        tion of Christianity and the church
                                                   ishment and labor contribute to the       organization, how did legal stat-
                                                   making of those categories.               utes change with changing societal
I N TE RV IE W | 19

roles? My research, as I see it, is at     After almost six months: How             What in particular have you been
the core of the proclaimed research        do you assess the opportunities          using your time in Bonn for?
objectives of BCDSS, analyzing             offered to you in Bonn and at the
asymmetrical dependencies, such            BCDSS?                                   Paulo Cruz Terra:
as patronage, slavery, gender roles,                                                For my research, I use the time to
even kingship.                             Stefan Brink:                            analyze the sources that I collected
                                           I am most grateful for the oppor-        about the legislation and debates
                                           tunity to join BCDSS, and the time       about abolition and labor regula-
How will you prepare and make              spent in Bonn has been very reward-      tion in Brazil and Portuguese Africa,
your research accessible after your        ing and fruitful. I am of the opinion    and to access the vast collection of
time at the BCDSS?                         that the BCDSS has the potential to      Bonn’s University Library. It is also
                                           be a leading research institution in     beneficial to participate in BCDSS
Paulo Cruz Terra:                          the field. I must also add how much      events, like lectures and workshops.  
This specific research project             I appreciate the help I have got from
started last year, and it will finish in   the admin staff, Jan and Astrid. They    Stefan Brink:
February 2022. My plan is to publi-        have been absolutely brilliant.          In principle during “office hours” I
cize the results in academic jour-                                                  have been reading and writing, and
nals, events and a final book by that      Paulo Cruz Terra:                        also have had many fruitful infor-
date. But it is also of crucial impor-     One of the greatest opportunities        mal discussions with colleagues
tance to me to make the research           offered by the BCDSS is the inten-       and affiliated Bonn researchers. I
accessible to a wider audience. My         sive exchange in multiple aspects.       have also tried to engage in Uni-
intention is to organize a specific        Exchange in terms of making it           versity life, by attending seminars
webpage to publicize part of the           possible to discuss my research          at the university. During weekends,
data and results of the research.          with people from different aca-          I have tried to have a look around
Another essential objective is to          demic backgrounds and diverse            in the Bonn-Cologne region, and
produce a short movie with the out-        parts of the world. Exchange also        also to explore especially the Alt-
come.                                      in the chance of debating academic       stadt, and I have become very fond
                                           works that address various tem-          of both, and miss both now being in
Caroline Laske:                            poralities and spaces, which gave        quarantine in Sweden.
During my six months at the BCDSS,         me a chance enhance my work. The
I have studied the textual and             BCDSS also enables professional
semantic representation of women           exchange. I could make new con-          In times of corona – are you cur-
in the thirteenth-century manu-            tacts and be involved in the organi-     rently able to advance your
script Le Très Ancien Coutumier de         zation of academic events, like the      research well? What is lacking and
Normandie. The write-up of that            one about slavery in Brazil, another     what could possibly work better
study is ready and I hope it will be       one concerned with punishment            than in normal university life?
published in the BCDSS publication         and labor, and finally a movie festi-
series before the end of this year. I      val. It also provides contacts that go   Stefan Brink:
am also planning a second paper            beyond the BCDSS, which generates        I am able to continue to work, since
studying other sources before the          partnerships for events and pub-         I live in the Swedish university town
end of my fellowship.                      lications. It is clear to me that the    Uppsala with a very good library,
                                           time at the BCDSS is already a turn-     which I am able to use, since Swe-
Stefan Brink:                              ing point in my career, and I wish to    den has taken this rather unique
The research I have done during the        keep the collaboration and contact       path of keeping society more or less
autumn, winter and early spring,           in the future.                           open. However, it is difficult to find
namely to finalize a book Thraldom.                                                 the necessary discipline, which I had
A History of Slavery in the Viking Age                                              while working in Heussallee, but

                                           “
has been in production with Oxford                                                  now in quarantine I am surrounded
University Press since early April,              It is clear to me that the         by family and all the everyday mat-
for publication in late autumn. I am             time at the BCDSS is               ters which distract you. But most
at the moment working with the                   already a turning point            of all I miss the informal talks and
earliest Scandinavian laws, analyz-              in my career, and I wish           discussions with colleagues, and
ing social dependencies, and will                to keep the collaboration          the possibility of total, undisturbed
disseminate this research in one or              and contact in the                 focus on my work.

                                                        ”
a couple of articles.                            future.
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