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Control, Coercion, and Constraint II

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The Role of Religion in Overcoming and Creating Structures of Dependency Public Lecture Series Tuesdays at 18:15 hrs Hörsaal XVI (Hauptgebäude Universität Bonn)

The second part of the lecture series organized by the Centre for Religion and Society (ZERG) and the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS; Research Area C) will start in the summer semester. Once again, will explore the question of the role of religion in both overcoming existing and creating new forms and types of dependencies.

On the one hand, the equality of all human beings before God is affirmed by many religions. Conversion to one or the other religion has, therefore, often led to a transformation and even abolishment of existing social structures and institutions and their corresponding dependencies.

On the other hand, while control, coercion, and constraint of individuals or groups are indeed frequently criticized in religious discourse, religious aetiologies have also famously been used to justify the subjection of individuals and whole peoples. In addition, throughout history religious institutions themselves have often mirrored the social hierarchies and inequalities of the surrounding societies. Concomitantly, they have created similarly rigid systems of dependency within their own institutional, social, legal, and spiritual structures. The realization of freedom and equality is then often postponed to a distant future, to a later life, or even to the after-life. However, not even the metaphysical world is free of dependencies: almost all major religions envisage hierarchies of gods, angels, and demons in their religious discourse.

Finally, the question of the role of religion in perpetuating and abolishing slavery is still a much debated topic within historical and social sciences. This topic is all the more pressing in light of contemporary enslavement of ethnic groups on the basis of their religion, like e.g. the Yazidis and the Rohingya.

The lectures series will take place on Tuesdays at 18:15 hrs (Hörsaal XVI in the Hauptgebäude). It is planned as a hybrid event which is to be delivered in Bonn before an audience and simultaneously streamed via youtube.


  • 05/04/2022

Vīra-Śaiva and Jaina Rivalries in Medieval South India. Creating and Overcoming Structures of Dependency
(Prof. Julia Hegewald)

  • 12/04/2022 

On Mentally Subduing Africa. The Concept of the Devil in European Writings 15th–19th Centuries
(Dr Jutta Wimmler)

  • 19/04/2022

Bartolomé de las Casas’ Cultural Turn in his Interpretation of Aristoteles for Overcoming Slavery in the West Indies
(Prof. Michael Schulz)

  • 26/04/2022

The Relationship between Rituality and New Forms of Dependency in the Late Inka State
(Prof. Karoline Noack)

  • 03/05/2022

Slavery in the Mamluk Sultanate (1250–1517)
(Prof. Stephan Conermann)

  • 10/05/2022

Christian Contributions to the Debate on Slavery in East Asia
(Prof. Reinhard Zöllner)

  • 24/05/2022

William Wilberforce and the Ambiguities of Christian Antislavery
(Prof. John Coffey, University of Leicester)

  • 31/05/2022

Santería, Palo Monte, Abakuá, Vudú, Espiritismo. Slave Religions and Industrial Revolutions at the Times of Second Slavery (19th/20th Centuries) (Prof. Michael Zeuske)

  • 07/06/2022


  • 14/06/2022

References to Religion and their Functions in US-American Slave Narratives and Neo-Slave Narratives
(Prof. Marion Gymnich)

  • 21/06/2022

The Numerus Clausus Law of 1920, Asymmetrical Dependenc(ies) and the Twisted Road of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz 
(Prof. Béla Bodó)

  • 28/06/2022

 Marks of Dependency: Religious Tattooing among Caribbean Hindu Women (Dr Sinah Kloß)

  • 05/07/2022

 Slavery and the Image of God. Theological Legitimisation and Critique from a Moral-Historical Perspective (Prof. Jochen Sautermeister)