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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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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: email@example.com
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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