25. February 2022

Fifth issue of research magazine DEPENDENT out now Fifth issue of research magazine DEPENDENT out now

BCDSS Cluster of Excellence reports on values, norms, and institutions in the study of slavery and other forms of asymmetrical dependency

The current issue of the research magazine DEPENDENT, issued biannually by the Cluster of Excellence Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, is dedicated to the topic of "Values, Norms, and Institutions in the Study of Slavery and other Forms of Asymmetrical Dependency".

Cover of the DEPENDANT magazine
Cover of the DEPENDANT magazine © Bonn Center for Dependancy and Slavery Studies (BCDSS)
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How do societies reconcile slavery and other forms of strong asymmetrical dependency (such as debt bondage, serfdom, forced labour) with their own values, norms and institutions? Bonn sociologist and BCDSS Principal Investigator Rudolf Stichweh offers an explanation. He advocates the paradoxical concept of "including exclusion", which he argues, can be applied to all institutions of strong asymmetrical dependency.

Meanwhile Julia Hillner, Claudia Jarzebowski, Pia Wiegmink and Christoph Witzenrath, the four BCDSS Cluster Professors, offer a somewhat more material approach to their research topics. They each present an object that is representative of their research approach and literally open our eyes as they reveal - layer by layer - the various dimensions of dependency. A silver jewellery box dating back to 4th century BC, for example, shows that material culture offers an important approach to slavery and dependency studies alongside the analysis of texts.

DEPENDENT magazine also offers insight into the many field work projects conducted by BCDSS researchers in the last six months. Some of the researchers were able to take advantage of the temporary relaxation of COVID-related travel restrictions to catch up on long overdue field trips, others had to change their research project completely. You can find out from the cluster's own "correspondents": Michael Zeuske (Cuba), Ayesha Hussain (Italy, Brescia) Paul Graf (Guatemala), Martin Bentz, Philippe Kluge and Matthias Lang (Italy, Cerveteri), Katja Girr, Ayesha Hussain (Turkey), Dita Auziņa (Belize).

In addition, every edition of DEPENDENT gives an overview of current developments, new publications and upcoming lectures, conferences and workshops. Particularly noteworthy is the Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture Series (a hybrid event, held in English), which takes place Mondays at 16 CET and is open to the public. The aim of the lecture series is to enrich and widen the cluster's approach on dependency and slavery studies with the perspective of top-class international guest speakers and to enter into a dialogue between BCDSS researchers on the one hand and interested people outside the cluster on the other (whether academics or the interested public).

The Cluster of Excellence Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS)

“Asymmetrical dependency” - with this new key concept, the Excellence Cluster Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS) has opened up a new interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach to slavery and dependency research. While the scholarly discourse has so far been shaped by the notion of slavery on the American continents or in antiquity, the cluster gives it a broader definition: It investigates all forms of profound social dependencies such as slavery, serfdom, debt bondage, and other forms of permanent dependency across epochs, regions and cultures. By expanding the perspectives in terms of content, space and time it opens up dependency research to transcultural comparisons.

The research magazine DEPENDENT

The research magazine DEPENDENT is a biannual publication by Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies at the University of Bonn. It reports on current developments, upcoming events and ongoing research projects. Each issue has a special focus relevant to the research field of dependency and slavery studies.


Cécile Jeblawei
Press and PR Manager
Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
University of Bonn
Tel: +49 228 7362477

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