Webster Leiden Campus hosts SLAVERY PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE: 5th Global Meeting June 22-24, 2020

Webster Leiden Campus is hosting SLAVERY PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE: 5th Global Meeting in
June  22nd,23rd, 24th 2020

Slavery (the treatment of humans as chattel) and enslavement through conquest, birth, gender, race, ethnicity, kinship, and exploitation of indebtedness have been an intrinsic part of human societies.

Slavery and a variety of other forms of exploitation existed in ancient societies across the world, and in many other states and territories.  The Transatlantic Slave Trade furnished at least 10 million Africans for slavery throughout the Americas. 

 Controversial and contested estimates indicate that up to 40 million people worldwide are enslaved today.  This modern re-emergence of slavery into public view, following legal abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade over two hundred years ago, is said to be linked to the deepening interconnectedness of countries in the global economy, overpopulation, and the economic and other vulnerabilities of individual victims and communities.

But should we think of these people as enslaved? And if so, is slavery an inevitable part of the human condition? Like ‘consumers’ of past eras, such as early industrialization, are we dependent on the exploitation of others? What does the persistence and mutations of different forms of exploitation mean in the context of abolition and recognition of universal individual and collective human rights? 

The varieties of contemporary forms of exploitation appear to be endless. This interdisciplinary conference will facilitate a multidisciplinary exploration of slavery in all its dimensions. 

Submissions are sought from people from all walks of life and identities, including:

  • Academics: from all disciplines, such as art, film, anthropology, sociology, history, ethnic studies, politics, social work, economics, and any field that touches the study of exploitation
  • Civil society members: human rights activists, leaders in non-governmental organizations, and others in the NGO or social advocacy fields
  • Professionals: social workers, corporate social responsibility and business ethics professionals, business leaders, and health care professionals
  • Government actors: representatives, policymakers, lobbyists, and analysts
  • Global citizens with personal connections to slavery or exploitation: former slaves or indentured laborers, members of at-risk populations, migrant or guest workers, non-regularized immigrants, and refugees

We particularly encourage submissions from the Global South.


Potential themes and sub-themes include but are not limited to:

Defining Slavery

What do we mean when we talk about “slavery”

Using “slavery” to obscure other endemic forms of exploitation

Teaching and learning about historic slavery and contemporary forms of exploitation

Slaveries of the Past

Classical (Egyptian, Greco-Roman, etc.) slavery

Conquests and colonization – Aboriginal Australians, indigenous peoples of the New World, dividing and colonizing Africa and Asia

Slaveries in Europe pre-Industrialization, such as villeinage and serfdom

Trans-Atlantic Slavery and the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Depictions of slaves and slave traders in texts and art during the Abolition Period

Systems of slavery in tribal and traditional societies

WWII and post-WWII forced labor camps

Human Trafficking and other Forms of Contemporary Exploitation

Definitions - Is human trafficking “slavery”

Types of human trafficking (labor trafficking, sex trafficking, organ trafficking, etc.)

Civil society anti-trafficking activism: assessing contemporary initiatives and movements

The role of the nation state:

Can the nation state enslave? (prison labor, mandated military service, etc.)

Anti-trafficking policies and legislation

Systems and Structures of Enslavement and Subordination (historic and contemporary)

Role of slavery in national and global economies

Economic, political, legal structures – their role in enslavement and exploitation

Slavery’s impact on culture and the cultural impacts of historic slavery

Voices of the Enslaved

Slave narratives of the past and present

Descendants’ interpretation of their enslaved and/or slave-holding ancestors

Legacies of Slavery

Identifying and mapping contemporary legacies – economic, social, cultural, psychological (e.g., Post traumatic stress disorder and intergenerational trauma)

Assessment of slavery’s impact – economic, political, other

Commemorations and memorialization of enslavers and/or the enslaved

Legal regimes tacitly designed to perpetuate slavery (e.g., convict leasing)

Legal segregation or discrimination (in housing, education, banking, transportation, etc.)

Racial terror (e.g., lynching, forced removals)

Racial subordination and re-enslavement (e.g., voter disfranchisement, mass incarceration, medical apartheid)

Desecration of burial sites of the enslaved

Destruction of or denial of access to historical information

Lack of memorialization of sacred events/sacred persons/sacred sites

Transitional justice (e.g., reparations, memorialization, restitution)

Limited rights attribution and recognition for Afro-descended peoples

Capacities (and limitations) of domestic and international law in creating, implementing and challenging slavery’s legacies

Built environment (e.g., architecture, historic buildings, cityscapes, borders)

Anti-slavery Initiatives and Movements


Economic compensation

Restorative justice

Teaching and learning about slavery

Relationship to the global racial hierarchy

Abolitionism and law: effects and (in)effectiveness

The role of technology and multimedia


Conference Committee: 

  • Karen E. Bravo (Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, IN, USA)
  • David Bulla (Augusta University, GA, USA)
  • Ursula Doyle (Northern Kentucky University School of Law, KY, USA)
  • Judith Onwubiko (University of Kent, United Kingdom)
  • Ulrich Pallua (University of Innsbruck, Austria)
  • Sheetal Shah (Webster University, Leiden, The Netherlands)
  • Judith Spicksley (University of Hull, United Kingdom)


Submitting Your Proposal:

Proposals should be submitted no later than Friday, February 28, 2020 to:

  • Karen E. Bravo, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law: kbravo@iupui.edu
  • E-Mail Subject Line: Slavery Past Present & Future 5 Proposal Submission
  • File Format: Microsoft Word (DOC or DOCX)

 The following information must be included in the body of the email:

  • Author(s)
  • Affiliation as you would like it to appear in the conference program
  • Corresponding author email address

 The following information must be in the Microsoft Word file:

  • Title of proposal
  • Body of proposal (maximum of 300 words)
  • Keywords (maximum of ten)

Please keep the following in mind:

  • All text must be in Times New Roman 12.
  • No footnotes or special formatting (bold, underline, or italicization) must be used.


Evaluating Your Proposal

All abstracts will be double-blind peer reviewed and you will be notified of the Organizing Committee’s decision no later than Friday, March 20, 2020.  If a positive decision is made, you will be asked to promptly register online. You will be asked to submit a draft paper of no more than 2000 words by Friday, May 8, 2020.

The conference registration fee is €220.

We offer a limited number of fellowships to participants who would otherwise be foreclosed from attending.  The fellowships take the form of registration deferrals.


Monday, June 22, 2020 at 5:00pm to 8:00pm

Webster Leiden Campus
Boommarkt 1, 2311 EA Leiden, Netherlands

Event Type



Diversity, Inclusion and Equity



Webster University Leiden
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