Home » Departments and Centres » History and Civilization » Research & Teaching » Seminars » Autumn Term 2012-2013 » Slaves and Empires

Slaves and Empires, 15th-19th Centuries


Research Seminar

Prof. Jorge Flores and Dr. Irene Fattacciu
With the collaboration of Kalle Kananoja (Max Weber Fellow)

Tuesdays 11:00-12:50, sala Belvedere

Secretary: Roberta Saccon

Starts on 9 October

Seminar material


Seminar description

This seminar aims at studying the various forms of slavery around the world and the avenues to emancipation from the 15th to the 19th century in a comparative and also diachronic perspective. By examining slavery and its institutions in Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, we will question and analyze the changing status of slaves over times and places in the larger historical context of the changes in the Old and New Worlds. Particular attention will be given to the connections between the institution of slavery and the imperial system.

The trading structure, the economy of slavery, slave functions, reactions to slavery and emancipation will be some of the issues covered, as they have generated on-going scholarly debates. The seminar consists of discussion of different papers, documentaries, primary sources and presentations by guest speakers, in the attempt to also bridge the gap between the foundational and the most current academic work.




9 October: Introduction

  • Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone. The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (Harvard UP, 200), Prologue, pp. 1-14
  • Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (Vintage Books, 1974), part. 1, pp. 3-7.
  • Philip D. Morgan and Sean Hawkins (eds.), Black Experience and the Empire (2004), ch.1/introduction, pp. 1-34.


16 October: The Middle Passage and the Slave Ship

  • Markus Rediker, The Slave Ship: A Human History (2007), ch. 2, pp. 41-72.
  • Robert Harms, The ‘Diligent’: A Voyage through the World of the Slave Trade (Basic Books, 2002), part 6, pp. 149-196.
  • Joseph Miller, Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from America to American Diaspora (Harvard University Press, 2007), ch. 4, pp. 101-121.


23 October: The Economy of Slavery  in collaboration with Kalle Kananoja (MWF)

  • Joseph E. Inikori, Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England: A Study in International Trade and Economic Development (Cambridge University Press, 2002), ch. 4, pp. 156-214.
  • David Eltis, “Europeans and the Rise and Fall of African Slavery in the Americas: An Interpretation”, American Historical Review 98:5 (Dec. 1999), pp. 1399-1423.


30 October: African Identities in the Americas in collaboration with Kalle Kananoja (MWF)

  • James Sweet, “Mistaken Identities? Olaudah Equiano, Domingos Álvares, and the Methodological Challenges of Studying the African Diaspora”, American Historical Review 114:2 (April 1999), pp. 279-306.
  • Douglas Chambers, “Ethnicity in the Diaspora: The Slave Trade and the Creation of African 'Nations' in the Americas”, Slavery and Abolition 22:3 (Dec. 2011), pp. 25-39.
  • John Thornton, “ ‘I Am the Subject of the King of Congo’: African Political Ideology and the Haitian Revolution”, Journal of World History 4:2 (1993), pp. 181-214.
  • The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, written by Himself, ed. Werner Sollors (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001), pp. 31-43.


6 November: Slaves and Blacks in Europe

  • Kate Lowe, “The stereotyping of black Africans in Renaissance Europe”, in T. F. Earle & K. J. P. Lowe (eds.), Black Africans in Renaissance Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2010), ch. 1., pp. 17-47.
  • Didier Lahon, “Black African slaves and freedmen in Portugal during the Renaissance: creating a new pattern of reality”, in Black Africans in Renaissance Europe, ch. 12, pp. 261-279.
  • Allison Blakely, Blacks in the Dutch World: The Evolution of Racial Imagery in a modern Society (Indian University Press, 1994), ch. 6, pp. 225-274; id., “Problems in studying the role of blacks in Europe”, Perspectives (May-June 1998).


13 November: Resisting bondage in History and Memory I: Power and Negotiation between Private and Public Spaces

  • Amistad (1997), film directed by Steven Spielberg (155m)
  • Frederick Dalzell, “Dreamworking Amistad: Representing Slavery, Revolt and Freedom in America, 1839 and 1997”, The New England Quarterly, 71:1 (March 1998), pp. 127-133.
  • Sykvia Vatuk, “Bharattee's Death: Domestic Slave-Women in Nineteenth-Century Madras”, in Indrani Chatterjee & Richard Eaton (eds.), Slavery and South Asian History (Indiana University Press, 2006), ch. 9, pp. 210-233.
  • Harriet A. Jacobs (1813-1897), Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Written by Herself (full digital edition)


20 November: Slavery without Colonialists: From the Mediterranean to the “Southeast Asian Mediterranean”

Guest: Prof. Giancarlo Casale (University of Minnesota)

  • Baki Tezcan, “Dispelling the Darkness: the Politics of ‘Race’ in the Early Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Empire in the Light of the Life and Work of Mullah Ali”, in Baki Tezcan & Karl K. Barbir (eds.), Identity and Identity Formation in the Ottoman World. A Volume of Essays in Honor of Norman Itzkowitz (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007), pp. 73-95.
  • Sussan Babaie et al, Slaves of the Shah, New Elites of Safavid Iran, (I.B. Tauris, 2004), ch. 2, pp. 20-48.
  • Richard Eaton, A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761. Eight Indian Lives (Cambridge University Press, 2008), ch. 5, pp. 105-128.
  • Anthony Reid, “ ‘Closed’ and ‘Open’ slave systems in pre-colonial Southeast Asia”, in A. Reid (ed.), Slavery, Bondage and Dependency in Southeast Asia (Queensland University Press, 1983), pp. 156-181.


27 November: Resisting bondage in History and Memory II: Runaways and “Slave Republics”

  • David Waldstreicher, “Reading the Runaways: Self-Fashioning, Print Culture, and Confidence in Slavery in the Eighteenth- Century Mid-Atlantic” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 56:2 (April 1999), pp. 243-272.
  • Robert N. Anderson, “The Quilombo of Palmares: A New Overview of a Maroon State in Seventeenth-Century Brazil”, Journal of Latin American Studies, 28:3 (1996), pp. 545-566.
  • John Hope Franklin & Loren Schweninger, “The Quest for Freedom: Runaway Slaves and the Plantation South”, in Gabor Boritt & Scott Hancock (eds.), Slavery, Resistance, Freedom (Oxford University Press, 2007), ch. 2, pp. 21-39.


4 December: From Old to New Forms of Slavery
Programme TBA


11 December: Freed Slaves and Abolition

Guest speaker: Prof. Alessandra Lorini (Università di Firenze), “Abolitionism and freed slaves in North America”

  • “Glory” (1989); film directed by Edward Zwick (122m)
  • David W. Blight, “The Shaw Memorial in the Landscape of Civil War Memory”, in Martin H. Blatt, Thomas J. Brown, Donald Yacovone, eds., Hope and Glory. Essays on the Legacy of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, (University of Massachusetts Press, 2001), pp. 79-93.
  • Manisha Sinha, “An Alternative Tradition of Radicalism: African American Abolitionists and the Metaphor of Revolution”, in Manisha Sinha & Penny von Eschen (eds.), Contested Democracy. Freedom, Race, and Power in American History (Columbia University Press, 2007), ch. 1, pp. 9-30.
  • Eric Foner, “Lincoln and Colonization”, in Eric Foner (ed.), Our Lincoln. New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World (Norton, 2008), ch. 6, pp. 135-166.



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