The Slave Business and Its Material and Moral Hinterlands in Continental Europe

The Slave Business and Its Material and Moral Hinterlands in Continental Europe

Eve Rosenhaft, University of Liverpool; Felix Brahm, Universität Bielefeld
International Slavery Museum
United Kingdom
Vom - Bis
20.04.2012 - 22.04.2012
Felix Brahm / Eve Rosenhaft

The history of transatlantic slavery is one of the most active and fruitful fields of historical research worldwide. As scholarship in this field is increasingly global, it opens up unique possibilities for international collaboration. More particularly, the most recent research which looks beyond the familiar Atlantic axis and the principal slave-trading nations has made clear the scope for new kinds of comparative and trans-regional studies. The conference revisits a number of key themes relevant to the relationship between slavery (outside Europe) and the dynamics of (European) metropolitan society, giving specific attention to developments in Continental Europe and in particular to the German-speaking regions. These themes include the impact of the slave business on capitalist development and the development of discourses around slavery and abolition in the public sphere. Behind that there lie questions about private conscience – in the first instance about what was known and knowable about the implication of individual economic actors in one of the earliest globalised businesses. By focusing our attention on regions which were physically and politically distant not only from the mines and plantations of the Americas but also from Europe’s ‘slave capitals’ like Liverpool, London, Nantes and Bordeaux, we hope not only to assemble new data and thereby better understand the material ‘reach’ of transatlantic slavery, but also to address wider questions about the ways in which location/space structures knowledge, values and interest by applying them to the particularly dramatic case of slavery in what are still seen as marginal places. How does the geographical status of ‘hinterland’ relate to conditions of economic and moral/discursive interchange?

The conference begins with a keynote lecture by Catherine Hall, Director of the UCL/ESRC project on British stakeholders in slavery and post-abolition compensation, and ends with a session on memory work in teaching, public art and public and community history.


Friday, April 20

5.00pm Welcome address

5.30pm Keynote address
Catherine Hall (London): British stakeholders in slavery and post-abolition compensation

Saturday, April 21

Felix Brahm (Bielefeld) & Eve Rosenhaft (Liverpool): Introductory comments

9.30am – 11.15am Material hinterlands of the slave trade in continental Europe - Part I
Chair: TBC

Klaus Weber (Frankfurt a.d.O.): ‘All the Negroes cloathed with German Linen’: Central European Implications with the Atlantic Slave Trade, 15th-19th Centuries

Allan Potofsky (Paris-Diderot): Paris as Atlantic Hinterland, from the Ancien Régime to the French Revolution

Alexandra Robinson (Liverpool): A Case Study of the Earle Family’s Leghorn Business 1751 -1808

11.30am – 1.15pm Material hinterlands of the slave trade in continental Europe – Part II
Chair TBC

Craig Koslofsky (Urbana): A German Diary of a Slaving Journey in the 1690s

Peter Haenger (Basel): Basel and the slave trade: from profiteers to missionaries

Anne-Sophie Overkamp (Frankfurt a.d.O): The German backcountry and the Atlantic exchange: The participation of textile merchants from the Wupper valley in the Atlantic trade, 1760-1810

2.15pm – 4.00pm Moral hinterlands of the slave trade in continental Europe
Chair: TBC

Dan Hopkins (Kansas City): Julius von Rohr, an Enlightenment scientist of the plantation Atlantic

Jochen Meissner (Berlin): Southern European and Latin American Responses to British Abolitionism

Kwame Nimako (Amsterdam): The Peace of Westphalia, Slavery and the Berlin Conference: A Continuum

Sunday, April 22

10.00am – 11.30am European hinterlands of the slave business and contemporary memory cultures
Chair: Alan Rice (Preston)

Sabine Broeck (Bremen): Bremen and the slave business: Notes on a Hermeneutics of Absence, and a Pedagogy of the Trace

Barbara Richiger - Cooperaxion (Bern): A Swiss database of slave-trade stakeholders

Jokinen (Hamburg): The Slave Trader Heinrich Carl Schimmelmann and Cultures of Remembrance in Wandsbek: Vestiges, Myths and Protests

projection posthum: Heaven above Wandsbek – Guinea – St. Croix (installation)

11.45am – 12.30pm Closing discussion


Dr. Felix Brahm

Universität Bielefeld, Abteilung Geschichte
Universitätsstraße 25, 33615 Bielefeld
+49 521 106-3234
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