Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (Web)
Proposals by: 01.12.2023
Children in the early modern world were dependent upon caretakers in many ways: physically, socially, and emotionally. Children could also be subjected to and negotiated social and economic dependencies, including conditions of serfdom, indentured labour, servitude, slavery, and family ties. Highly mobile, children were traded and trafficked between households, across cultural boundaries, and over land and oceans. These experiences could be exacerbated through considerations of gender and (premediated) sexuality. Wedged between these intersections of power, space, and (in)visibility, children have frequently been neglected in history writing, with their limited traces in archives contributing to this marginalisation. Following recent calls for praxeological approaches, global history, and the history of material culture, their silences are beginning to break.
The organizers wish to foreground children’s representations, articulations, and their experiences in archival and visual narratives as modes of overcoming their assumed absences in the historical record. Children shaped dependent relationships, not least in their capacity as future adults. A child’s entry into strong asymmetrical dependencies may have been involuntary but they needed to adapt. Processes of adaptation, negotiation, and rejection, in turn, stabilised and destabilised dependencies. Under strong and enduring forms of asymmetrical dependency (i.e chattel plantation slavery), enslaved children were paradoxically first treated as incomplete units of labour, but upon reaching physical maturity encountered a state of permanent infantilisation through calculated deprivation by enslavers. Accounting for both the violence of strong asymmetrical dependency and its archives, while recovering children’s agency, is a challenge for historians. Read more and source … (Web)