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Slavery and forced labour in Asia, c. 1250-c.1900: continuities and transformations in comparative perspective

  • Anthony Reid (Professor Emeritus Australian National University)
  • James Francis Warren (Professor Emeritus Murdoch University)
Thursday 1 June 2017 - Saturday 3 June 2017
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden

Although pioneering researchers such as Anthony Reid and James F. Warren paved the way for a greater understanding of slavery in Asia, chattel, debt, and forced labor in Asia have not figured prominently in research on slavery as a global phenomenon. Taking advantage of a recent surge in Asian slavery studies in the Low Countries, this conference seeks to bring Asia fully into the discourse on global slavery by bringing together scholars who work on slavery and forced labor in Central Asia (including modern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), Southeast Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam), and East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan) between the mid-thirteenth and early twentieth-centuries. 

Leiden houses the top-ranked humanities faculty in continental Europe and has recently attracted a number scholars who are producing top research on the history of slavery.  In 2014, several of these joined forces to found the Leiden Slavery Studies Association, or LSSA. 

The goal of the LSSA conference series is to examine slave systems in comparative perspective and situate them in broader regional and pan-regional contexts. The LSSA accordingly encourages proposals on the following topics and issues:

  • The definition and characteristics of slave status in Asian societies, including the ways in which and the reasons why slave status changed through time.

  • The structure, organization, use, and prevalence of slave and forced labor regimes, including the ways in which indigenous and European slave systems influenced and interacted with one another.

  • The nature, dynamics, and volume of indigenous and European slave trading in Asia, including the ways in which these systems interacted with one another and the impact of such interaction.

  • The abolition of slavery and the social, economic, and political consequences of slave emancipation.

  • The ways in which slavery and slave trading systems were linked to other migrant labor systems such as the convict and indentured labor trades and systems that flourished within and beyond the European colonial world between the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This conference is co-organised by Richard Allen, who has been a leading scholar of Asian and Indian Ocean slavery for many decades.  

Selected conference papers will be published in Brill’s series “Studies in Global Slavery,” which is co-edited by two LSSA members and conference co-organisers, Jeff Fynn-Paul and Damian Alan Pargas.

Full conference programme and speakers (PDF)

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