New professorships for dependency studies at the University of Bonn
The Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies at the University of Bonn gains reinforcement
Opening up a new approach to research on slavery and dependency – that is the aim of the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS) at the University of Bonn. The Cluster of Excellence has now been strengthened by three outstanding female scholars: The historians Julia Hillner and Claudia Jarzebowski as well as the Americanist Pia Wiegmink will take up professorships at the Cluster starting in fall, completing the team of professorships established there as part of the Excellence Strategy. Christoph Witzenrath, also a historian, already researches and teaches at the BCDSS. At a reception in the university’s Rector’s Office, Rector Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Michael Hoch now officially presented the appointment certificates to the four Cluster Professors.
The discourse of slavery research so far has been shaped by slavery in the Americas or in classical antiquity. With its research contributions, the Cluster the Cluster decidedly leaves this path expanding its perspective in terms of content, space and time. After all, not all forms of servitude and forced labor are necessarily to be associated with the catchword slavery. „Asymmetrical dependency” as a key concept includes various forms of human exploitation such as forced labor, debt bondage or servitude. In order to cover the breadth of research carried out at the Cluster, every year the research focus will pass from one research area to the other. By 2025 the cluster will have focused on all its five research areas.
The four professorships lie at the heart of research at the Cluster of Excellence. „I am really pleased that we have now filled all four positions. We succeeded in attracting four outstanding researchers to our cluster,“ says Prof. Dr. Stephan Conermann, the Cluster’s speaker. „We are all looking forward to the collaboration with great joy and excitement. Together, we will continue to drive the research forward and lay the foundation for renewed funding.“
„With its thematic focus, the Cluster of Excellence bears a unique selling point throughout Germany and is an important pillar for the humanities at the University of Bonn,“ says Rector Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Michael Hoch. „The newly appointed colleagues will strengthen the cluster excellently and sustainably with excellent contributions in research and teaching.“
The BCDSS Professorship comes with a Postdoctoral Research Associate each. All four scholars will supervise PhD theses within the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies and beyond. Their teaching will form the core of the Cluster’s two MA programs: “Dependency and Slavery Studies” and “Slavery Studies.”
Slavery and dependencies from different perspectives
Claudia Jarzebowski will start her BCDSS Professorship in September. In her current research, she focuses on global and gender history of the early modern period, including the history of dependence and enslavement, as well as the genesis of bourgeois society. She has previously focused on the social and cultural history of the early modern period, the history of children and emotion during the period of 1450-1800, and on historical research into violence and crime.
Pia Wiegmink, who will also start her BCDSS Professorship in September, is interested in cultural practices and narratives of nineteenth-century American slavery and dependency and their transatlantic entanglements and circulation. In previous research projects, she examined US American abolitionist literature in specific transnational contexts and highlighted the role of women as producers, subjects and audiences of abolitionist literature.
Julia Hillner, who will start her post in October, is already at the BCDSS as a Heinz Heinen Fellow. She works predominantly on the transformations of the family and the household in the period 300–750 and how these are reflected in legal norms and practices. In addition, she also focuses on a number of related topics ranging from the urban context of the family and property holding, particularly in the late antique city of Rome, to issues of authority, hierarchy and discipline within the household and how these have influenced concepts and practices of state punishment in late antiquity.
Christoph Witzenrath has been Professor at the BCDSS since 2017. His research focuses on the Eurasian steppe and its neighbors, and on the influence of nomadic-settled relations and the slave trade on social dependency and political representation. He aims to analyze Eurasian societies’ structural and cultural specificities that are characterized by a significant gap between state and dependent social groups.
Cécile Jeblawei, Press and PR Manager
Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
University of Bonn
Phone: +49 228 73 62477