Fall Lecture Series 2013

Ending Slavery: Nineteenth-Century Emancipations in a Transatlantic World

organized by Mischa Honeck and Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, our lecture series revisits one of the major social and political upheavals of the nineteenth century: the abolition of chattel slavery and of similar forms of legalized human bondage. Rather than examining the topic through a narrow national lens, this series traces how very different societies abolished unfree labor and grappled with slavery's legacy. It compares how emancipation played out in the United States, Germany, Russia, and Latin America but also highlights transnational connections and influences. What were the global repercussions - social, economic, and political - of the prohibition of unfree labor? Why did some actors champion gradual and peaceful reform, while others resorted to revolutionary violence? How do we write a history that gives voice not just to the elites but also to the voiceless - the slaves, serfs, bondsmen, and bondswomen who left behind little if any documentation? Exploring emancipation and its difficult aftermath on both sides of the Atlantic will bring new, challenging perspectives to conventional narratives of the nineteenth century as an age of "progress" and "civilization."

All lectures begin at 6:30 pm (refreshments will be served from 6:00 to 6:30 pm) and will be held at the German Historical Institute, 1607 New Hampshire Avenue NW (Directions). Please RSVP (acceptances only) by Tel. 202.387.3355, Fax 202.387.6437 or E-mail.

  • Policy and Process: How the Slaves Became Free in America
    September 5, 2013
    Speaker: David Blight (Yale University)

  • Prussian Emancipation: The Revolution Against Serfdom in Germany and Its Atlantic Afterlives
    October 10, 2013
    Speaker: Andrew Zimmerman (George Washington University)

  • The ‘Other' Emancipation of the 1860s: Freeing Russia's Serfs
    November 7, 2013
    Speaker: Peter Kolchin (University of Delaware)

  • Emancipation through Colonization: Brazil and Cuba
    December 12, 2013
    Speaker: Ursula Prutsch (University of Munich)
  • Invitation
    Click on image to enlarge or print (pdf).