On 25 and 26 November 2021, two of our PhD candidates at the RIAS, Marcella Schute and Christine Mertens, participated in an international online PhD seminar called “Slavery, Servitude & Extreme Dependency,” organized by the Leiden Slavery Studies Association (Leiden University), Bonn Center for Dependency & Slavery Studies (Universität Bonn), and the Wilberforce Institute (University of Hull). The seminar was coordinated by Damian Pargas, executive director of the RIAS.

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the seminar was held online. The researchers who participated in the seminar presented their papers which were all related to an aspect of slavery, servitude, or extreme dependency in any geographical setting and any time period. This resulted in two fruitful days of interesting presentations and intensive discussions on wide-ranging topics; from papers on the status of Gypsy slaves from Moldavia between 1428 and 1766 to the roots and trajectories of “modern slavery” in Qatar.

For Christine and Marcella, who are both part of the Racial Democracy Project at the RIAS, this was the first time they participated in an international PhD seminar to present their ongoing research projects. Christine’s research formed part of the panel “Slavery and Freedom in the Age of Revolutions,” where she presented her paper on the contestations over the geographic mobility of free African Americans in the post-Revolutionary Upper South. Marcella’s research formed part of the panel “Profiting from African Labour,” where she presented her paper on the covert and overt efforts by the state of Louisiana to reopen the transatlantic slave trade.