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Detailed Programme 2013 / Courses / Literature /Information

Viadrina Summer University 2013: "Unfree Labour Revisited - Practices and Public Controversies from Ancient to Present Times"

Media- and Pressinformation (Medieninformation der Europa-Universität Viadrina zur VSU 2013)

(These pages are work in progress until October 2013. Every time we get texts, presentations etc. from our lecturers or later the participants, we upload them for you here. Please have a look regularly. Thank you very much.)

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Globalization has a dark side – the return and expansion of unfree labour. Regions inside and outside Europe have drawn benefits from the political and economic liberalisations of the past decades, but deregulation of labour markets and of financial operations have also widened social gaps and facilitated the expansion of shadow economies. The acceleration of capital flows has been accompanied by increased efforts of more affluent nations to keep labour migrants at bay. Irregular immigrants are prone to labour exploitation, while employment of unfree labour on a large scale is widespread in newly industrialising economies.

These trends are reflected by the popularity of a notion like ‘modern slavery’, used by UN organizations, governments and civil society protagonists, and suggest a sense of historical continuity and current criticism. This course offers room to reconsider historical manifestations of unfree labour – slavery, serfdom, peonage, forced labour in totalitarian regimes – in different cultural contexts (European, African, American, Asian), and to scrutinize coeval concepts and meanings and their transfer into modern public talk. Participants will deal with the often very blurred lines separating free and unfree labour and reflect the discourses justifying or challenging these practises from perspectives of historical and social sciences, economics and law. The comparative and interdisciplinary approach of this course will allow us to put the cherished abstraction ‘individual freedom’ in contrast with actual forms of labour, which are all ranging somewhere on the continuum between ‘free’ and ‘unfree’.

The issue is high on the agenda of scholars not only from the disciplines involved here. Recent publications have offered substantial overviews of the problem, yet always from the angle of a particular discipline, and mostly with a regional focus. This summer university shall provide an interdisciplinary forum for both younger and established researchers. It is also meant as an important element in the development of a related research focus at the Faculty of Social and Cultural Sciences.


Bibliography (all texts from all lecturers in one list)


Keynote Lecture: "Blurred Frontiers. 'Unfree' and 'Free' Labour since 1800 in a global Perspective"
Prof. Dr. Andreas Eckert


Core Course 1: "Historical Practices and Discourse of Unfree Labour"
Prof. Dr. Klaus Weber

Core Course 2: "Current Practices and Discourse of Unfree Labour"
Dr. Norbert Cyrus


Lecture and Seminar: "The Varieties of Unfree Labour"
Prof. Dr. John O'Neill

Lecture and Seminar: "Slavery in Lima (1780-1854): Unfree Labour, Resistance and Social Imaginary"
Prof. Dr. Marcel Velásquez Castro

Lecture and Seminar: "Root Causes of Contemporary Unfree Labour"
Prof. Dr. Steffen Angendendt

Lecture and Seminar: "Economic Explanations for Unfree Labour" [update from 30 September 2013!]
Dr. Dita Vogel

Lecture and Seminar: "Peasant Resistance in the Polish Manurial Economy of the Eighteenth Century"
Prof. Dr. Jacek Kochanowicz


Excursion 07th September (morning): Memorial Sachsenhausen

Excursion 07th September (afternoon): Berlin - Germany's Capital


Lecture : "The Murky Waters of Free Labor: African American Labor from Reconstruction to the Prison Industry Complex, 1862 to 2012"
and  Workshop / Seminar: "Prison Industry Complex, 1862 to 2012"
Prof. Dr. Norbert Finzsch


Workshops at Institutions in Berlin

Group A (Prof. Dr. Klaus Weber):

German Institute for Human Rights: Basic Principles, Targets and Experiences of the Project ‘Forced Labour Today’
Petra Follmar-Otto / Heike Rabe

Ban Ying: Modern Slavery and Trafficking – Activities to Stop Human Rights Violation
Paula Riedemann


Group B (Dr. Norbert Cyrus)

International Labour Organisation - ILO: Actions against Forced Labour and for Decent Work
Nicola Liebert

Counselling office for posted workers sent to Berlin: Preventing Unfree Labour Today: The Councelling Office for Posted Workers sent to Berlin. Visit and discussion
Doritt Komitowski


Lecture: "Trafficking: beyond politics?" and Workshop: "Who counts as a slave?"
Prof. Dr. Bridget Anderson"

Lecture and Seminar: "I was made to feel [...] that I must pass through life in a dependent and suffering condition": Slavery, Fatherhood and the Shaping of the Self, 1830-1860"
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Martschukat

Seminar: "Pawn, Soldier, Palace Woman: Unfree Labor in Precolonial West Africa"
Dr. Jutta Wimmler

Seminar: "Legality and Illegality, Employment and Exploitation" [update from 30th September 2013!]
Dr. Johanna Wenckebach / Clemens Sudhof

Seminar: "Captivity or Slavery? The Kidnapping of Europeans to Northern Africa by the Barbary-corsairs in the Early Modern Era"
Dr. Magnus Ressel

Seminar "Prisoners of War in Early 19th Century (Europe and Northern Africa)"
Frank Eisermann M. A.


Excursion 15th September: Biosphere reserve Spree Forest (Spreewald)


Lecture and Seminar: "African Labour for Gold Mines: Specific Features of Mine Work in South Africa before Apartheid"
Prof. Dr. Bernd Grewe

Research Forum - part I

Research Forum - part II