Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies

Call for Papers: Autumn School 2022 in Bonn

“Coercion, slavery, and relations of dependency in the Islamicate world”

31 October-4 November 2022

Bonn University

Deadline: 1 September, 2022


The Centre for Dependency and Slavery Studies at Bonn University (BCDSS) and the Netherlands Interuniversity School of Islamic Studies (NISIS) are inviting abstracts for an Autumn School, aimed at Master-level and PhD researchers, on the theme of “Coercion, slavery, and relations of dependency in the Islamicate world”, to be held at Bonn University from 31 October to 4 November 2022.

The Autumn School will feature four keynote speakers, Serena Tollino (Bern), Ehud Toledano (Tel Aviv), Sebastian Sons (Bonn), and Paolo Gaibazzi (Bayreuth). The keynote lectures will focus on the question of coerced labour in the Islamicate world in historical and contemporary perspective. Academic debates on forms of coercion and human bondage have traditionally focused on slavery, and the transatlantic experience of slavery, which was entangled with the creation of the modern West, continues to inform our notions of what freedom and a lack of freedom mean. The Autumn School, however, welcomes papers on a broad range of topics relating to the culturally and historically determined structures and patterns of coercion and dependency in the Islamicate world. We would like to discuss all forms of bondage in the Islamicate World, including debt bondage, convict labor, tributary labor, servitude (including in cultural and religious domains), serfdom, coerced domestic work and wage labor, and various types of patronage.

Of course, one can imagine many ways for a researcher to look at these phenomena. We suggest the following five different thematic and methodological vantage points. (1) Textual articulations of coercion, slavery, and relations of dependency: The goal is the exploration of the semantics, narrative patterns, and discursive structures used by historical actors themselves in organizing their world and talking about asymmetrical dependencies. (2) Non-textual relics of coercion, slavery, and relations of dependency, which have been “inscribed” in bodies and artefacts: With this approach, we want to put archaeology, art history, and object-based anthropology on an equal level with those disciplines of the humanities that focus on textual sources. (3) Forms of coercion, slavery, and relations of dependency produced at the crossroads of institutions (political, economic, educational, etc.), norms, and practices, whose interaction can be conceived as a two-way movement: top-down, i.e., from institutions to practices (for example, when institutions create norms that are – or are not – implemented into practices), and from below (for example, when practices produce norms and these become ‘institutionalized’). (4) Labor-related coercion, slavery, and relations of dependency and mobility: Instead of starting with the Industrial Revolution, and thus adopting European free wage labor as the standard labor relation of modernity, all forms of labor have to be taken into account in equal measure. Against this backdrop, the dialectics between spatial mobilization and immobilization of the dependents also have to be studied. (5) Coercion, slavery, and relations of dependency that are associated with gender, status, class, ethnicity, religion, and age: Originally developed by scholars from gender studies, intersectionality has since been productively applied to various forms of social hierarchization, discrimination, discreditation, and stigmatization.

To reiterate, these are only suggestions. In this Autumn School, all forms of societal, group-related, and individual hierarchization and oppression in the Islamicate World can be taken into consideration. We are pleased to invite researchers to submit proposals for single papers or panels dealing with these dynamics. In order to enhance historical comparison and analytical depth, we call on researchers with an interest in the historical as well as the contemporary dimensions of the topic of the Autumn School.

The key note speakers are: Prof. Serena Tolino (University of Bern
Institute for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Societies), Prof. Ehud Toledano (Tel Aviv University, Department of Middle Eastern and African History), Dr. Sebastian Sons (CARPO – Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient, Bonn), Prof. Paolo  Gaibazzi (University of Beyruth, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Social Anthropology)

Registration process

For NISIS members, your registration must include:

  1. a title and abstract of 300 words (max.) of your presentation (15 minutes)
  2. a short biography of 50 words (max.) in the third person

If you are not a NISIS junior member, your registration must include the following:

  1. a title and abstract of 300 words (max.) of your presentation (15 minutes)
  2. a short biography of 50 words (max.) in the third person
  3. a CV and a short motivation letter (ca. 1 A4)
  4. a one-page description of your PhD or MA project

Please send your abstract and biography in Word format (.doc or .docx).

Please register for the Autumn School via or via this form. The registration deadline is on the 1st of September 2022.

For NISIS-members, we aim to make a number of travel and accommodation funds available. For select non-members, we also expect to be able to fund some expenses. Please contact us via for more details.