D – Transregional connections and entangled regions

The Northern European experience in slavery

Event Details

  • Date

    Friday, 26 June - 14:00 – 16:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    D – Transregional connections and entangled regions
Convenor
  • Rebekka v. Mallinckrodt (University of Bremen)
Chair
  • Holger Weiss (Åbo Akademi University)
Commentator
  • Holger Weiss (Åbo Akademi University)
Panelists
  • Joachim Östlund (Lund University)
  • Hanne Østhus (University of Bonn)
  • Rebekka v. Mallinckrodt (University of Bremen)

Papers

  • Joachim Östlund
    Involuntary Minorities and Identity: The Case of Badin and other Africans in Eighteenth-Century Sweden

    Involuntary Minorities and Identity: The Case of Badin and other Africans in Eighteenth-Century Sweden

    This paper discusses involuntary minorities in eighteenth-century Sweden with special focus on Africans. During the eighteenth century labour migration to Sweden continued to be important, especially for the manufactories. Minority communities in cities like Stockholm, Alingsås and Borås resulted in permanent settlement and created a cultural diversity. Due to the Great Northern war and conflicts in continental Europe refugees of war and religious persecution were forming a group of so-called „involuntary minorities“. To the latter category one could also add individuals of forced migration, namely Africans. By putting Africans in relation to other minority groups in Sweden this presentation discusses the living conditions for Africans drawing on the concept of „involuntary minority“: How and to what degree was the presence of Africans linked to processes of boundary-drawing between dominant groups and minorities? How were Africans distinguished by cultural markers like clothing and to what degree did visible markers of a phenotype correspond to the concept of race? How did Africans express their identity as a minority?
  • Hanne Østhus
    Slaves and Servants in Eighteenth-Century Denmark-Norway. Trafficked people in European Households

    Slaves and Servants in Eighteenth-Century Denmark-Norway. Trafficked people in European Households

    In the late eighteenth century, a court in the Norwegian part of the kingdom of Denmark-Norway declared that it was illegal to own a person in Norway. Some years later, in 1802, however, a Copenhagen court issued several verdicts to the effect that people who had been slaves in the colonies should also be considered property in European Denmark. This paper explores the boundary between slavery and service in the European part of Denmark-Norway, which, as is evidenced by both the different outcomes and the need for verdicts on the matter was far from clear. This ambiguity was enhanced by a lack of legislation on the issue. There were several attempts to address this legal vacuum in the last half of the eighteenth century, but the proposed laws were never enacted. The paper does not examine all people transported or trafficked from the colonies, Africa or India, but a particular group: those who worked in households as servants. As servants in general, they lived in their master's household alongside local servants with a contract. By utilizing a variety of sources, such court records, laws, censuses, parish registers, pamphlets and paintings, the paper seeks to address fundamental questions of if and how race and ethnicity affected the master-servant relationship. Were black servants expected to behave in ways that differed from white servants or were they expected to perform different work?
  • Rebekka v. Mallinckrodt
    Slavery in the Holy Roman Empire – Legal Concepts and Case Studies

    Slavery in the Holy Roman Empire – Legal Concepts and Case Studies

    The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation is usually neither perceived as a slave-holding state nor as a state with slaves, especially given its very limited colonial holdings and the brief existence of a slave trading company. Still, German envoys, merchants, missionaries and soldiers brought back trafficked people with them whom they had bought as slaves in other European countries or colonies and thus confronted German administrations and jurisdictions with the question of these people’s legal status. In the proposed paper, I will present case studies from eighteenth-century Germany in which slave status was explicitly confirmed. I will also discuss legal traditions and contemporary notions that document an acceptance of slavery and an application of the legal concept of slavery in the Holy Roman Empire beyond the individual case. Finally, by analyzing eighteenth-century portraits with African figures I want to document how these findings change our view of these works of art that remain polysemous, but – beyond their symbolical meaning – also refer to factual practices.

Abstract

Whereas there has been extensive research on slavery and practices of enslavement in the Mediterranean as well as with regard to Western European colonial powers such as France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, research on the repercussions of global slaving systems on Central and Northern Europe is still scarce. Being less prominently involved in the transatlantic slave trade and early modern colonization these countries appeared for a long time as bystanders and „hinterlands“ of early modern globalization. This panel brings together current research on eighteenth-century Sweden, Denmark-Norway and the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. All three papers discuss trafficked people of African and Asian descent in these eighteenth-century Central and Northern European lands. By focusing at the same time on different aspects and concepts (involuntary minorities, identity, race/ ethnicity, slavery, domestic service; cultural, social and legal history, iconography and the law) and thus also different forms of contextualization, they allow for comparison and complement each other not only on a material level, but also with regard to different approaches to the topic. All three papers document that – while Sweden, Denmark-Norway and the Holy Roman Empire were apparently only at the margins of the transatlantic slave trade –eighteenth-century Central and Northern Europe was deeply embedded in and affected by Atlantic history and to a lesser degree also interacted with the Asian oceans.