Slavery and the Slave Trade in Ethiopia and Beyond


SLAFNET Summer School
15-18 April 2019
Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University


Slavery and the slave trade have been an important historical feature of the Horn of Africa region. Consecutive regional polities executed slave raids into their respective hinterland well into the 20th century. The internal Ethiopian slave trade connected the political centers of Ethiopia with its peripheries, and the trade in slaves connected Ethiopia with the Red Sea  and the Indian Ocean world as well as with the Ottoman world. Various polities in the Horn of Africa were depended on, and were commercial centers for, slave labor. The regional contours of slavery are relatively well established. Despite the diversity of various forms of human bondage, slavery and serfdom, as well as the trade in slaves, and its relatively rich documentation, slavery has received little attention in the field of Eastern Africa’s social, cultural and economic history. Moreover, one feature of Ethiopia is the public silence and the absence of commemorative discourses among the descendants of owner groups, slave descendants as well as within the public sphere.

This summer school is part of a program by a scholarly network focusing on slavery in the East African region providing evidence of the diverse patterns of human bondage, in order to come to a more holistic understanding of what actually constituted slavery in East Africa, and what its legacies are today.

The summer school is organized by the Institute of Ethiopian Studies of Addis Ababa University, with the Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian Studies and the Department for History and Culture of the Middle East (University of Hamburg, Germany), and the Institute of Research for Development (IRD, France), under the framework of SLAFNET (Slavery in Africa: a Dialogue between Africa and Europe).

We invite papers that look at the relation between slavery, labor and intergenerational stratification; as well as papers that focus on the emergence of subaltern identities as a result of slavery and the slave trade, both in Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, in Africa and the
Middle East.

In particular, we envisage addressing some or all of the following issues:
• Sources for the study of slavery in Ethiopia and beyond;
• Legal and normative approaches toward slavery by different groups in Ethiopia;
• Statuses related to slavery and practices akin to slavery;
• Abolitionist approaches and the trajectories of emancipation of different categories of
enslaved persons;
• Transformations of social relations rooted in historical slavery: post-slavery and
• Gender and economic dimensions of slavery and the slave trade;
• Cultural, artistic, and performative dimensions of slavery, including art forms produced
by, or on, enslaved persons;
• Connections between slavery, kinship, inheritance and succession.

The summer school is open to scholars with an interest in any of the themes above. We especially encourage early career scholars and PhD students to participate. The summer school will include visit to archives, a graduate workshop, academic presentations and discussions. An exhibition on slavery will be held in the Institute of Ethiopian Studies during the summer school.


Submission guidelines

The organizers welcome submissions of abstracts on the themes and questions above. We regret that we cannot provide funding for participants external to the SLAFNET Project.
Limited funding is available to scholars from the region thanks to the French IFRE network in East Africa (CEDEJ & CFEE).

Please send your submission before January 15th, 2019 by email to:
Dr. Serena Tolino (

Submissions should include: title, abstract of 300-500 words, presenter’s name, institutional affiliation, and contact information.
The selection committee will make a decision on the retained abstracts by early February 2019.
All presenters will be asked to hand in a preliminary draft of the proposed paper (of no more than 2000 words) one month prior to the summer school.

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