The Other Enslavement: Notes on Unthinkable Europeans in Unequal Europes

Mar 18, 2024  | 12pm - 1pm PT

Lecture at GHI Pacific Office | (201 Philosophy Hall, UC Berkeley) Speaker: Manuela Boatcă (University of Freiburg); Moderator: Fabio Heupel Santos (Tandem Fellow, German Historical Institute Washington | Pacific Office Berkeley)

Sponsor(s): German Historical Institute Washington | Pacific Office Berkeley, Institute of European Studies, Institute os Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, Center for German and European Studies, Austrian Studies Program


The inter-imperial history of the European East at the crossroads of the Habsburg, the Ottoman, and the Russian/Tsarist empires suggests that the coloniality that gradually engulfed the world after 1492 constituted a rather late moment in a larger inter-imperial configuration of power that predated the emergence of the Western Atlantic expansion and vied with it. Throughout the European East, the largely neglected process of the enslavement of the Roma started as a practice of enslaving prisoners of war. Drawing on Michel Rolph Trouillot’s analysis of the Haitian Revolution as an “unthinkable history” made by enslaved Black people, Prof. Dr. Manuela Boatcă argues that European politics of memory will remain incomplete as long as the history and the present of anti-Roma racism, the legacies of Romani enslavement, and the implications of such histories for the (im)possibility of constructing an identity as Romani Europeans are deemed unthinkable in an Occidentalist white Europe.

Manuela Boatcă is Professor of Sociology and Head of School of the Global Studies Programme at the University of Freiburg, Germany. She has a degree in English and German languages and literatures and a PhD in sociology. She was Visiting Professor at IUPERJ, Rio de Janeiro in 2007/08 and Professor of Sociology of Global Inequalities at the Latin American Institute of the Freie Universität Berlin from 2012 to 2015. She has published widely on world-systems analysis, decolonial perspectives on global inequalities, gender and citizenship in modernity/coloniality, and the geopolitics of knowledge in Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In 2018 she was awarded an ACLS collaborative fellowship alongside literary scholar Anca Parvulescu (Washington University in St. Louis, USA), for a comparative project on inter-imperiality in Transylvania. The resulting co-authored book, titled “Creolizing the Modern. Transylvania Across Empires” is forthcoming in English, German, and Romanian in 2022.

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