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Being Everybody’s Slaves. Public Slavery in Ancient and Modern World - 23-24/03/2018, Newcastle upon Tyne (England)




The conference brings some of the most prominent experts of ancient and modern slavery to discuss central methodological issues and focus on the interpretation of the concept of ‘public’ slavery. Its remit goes well beyond Roman public slavery since encourages the collaboration between experts working on different historical periods. The conference aims to provide a methodologically up-to-date discussion of the nature of the phenomenon, introducing for the first time a theoretical and comparative approach encompassing public slavery in the Roman period as well as some early modern and modern manifestations of it.


FECHA/DATE/DATA: 23-24/03/2018


LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne (England)


ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Dr Franco Luciani (Newcastle University)

INFO: web -


INSCRIPCIÓN/REGISTRATION/REGISTRAZIONE:  Aquí/here/qui    Deadline: 21/03/2018






22nd March

2.00 p.m. – Franco Luciani, Federico Santangelo (Newcastle University): 

Greetings and Introduction
Panel 1: Defining Public Slavery
Chair: Orlando Patterson (Harvard University)
2.30 p.m. – Paulin Ismard (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne): Between
Morphology and History: Public Slavery in a Comparatist Perspective
3.00 p.m. – M’hamed Oualdi (Princeton University): The Mamluk Enigma in the
Muslim States: the Tunisian Case
3.30 p.m. – Discussion
4.00 p.m. – Coffee Break
4.30 p.m. – Franco Luciani (Newcastle University): Public Slaves in the
Roman World. Notes on the Concept of Publicness
5.00 p.m. – Rebecca Shumway (College of Charleston): Public Slavery in the
Precolonial Gold Coast (Ghana)
5.30 p.m. – Discussion

23rd March
Panel 2: Law and Society
Chair: Nicholas Purcell (University of Oxford)
9.15 a.m. – Jean-Jacques Aubert (Université de Neuchâtel): The Legal
Capacity of Roman Public Slaves
9.45 a.m. – Vijaya Teelock (University of Mauritius): ‘In Defence of the
Empire’: Mauritius’ Government Slaves in the 18th Century
10.15 – Coffee Break
10.45 a.m. – Alexander Weiss (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main): Check
Your Privileges. Reconsidering the Social Position of Public Slaves in the
Roman Empire
11.15 a.m. – Discussion
12 a.m. Lunch

Panel 3: From Captivity to Slavery?
Chair: Benedetta Rossi (University of Birmingham)
2.30 p.m. – Anne Brogini (Université de Nice): Effective Management of
Public Slavery in the The Hospitallers’ Malta (16th-18th Centuries)
3.00 p.m. – Ulrike Roth (University of Edinburgh): The King’s Treasurer, the
Dey’s Secretary – Gaius Rabirius Postumus and James Leander Cathcart:
Accidental Captivity, Voluntary Service, or Public Slavery?
3.30 p.m. – Coffee Break
4.00 p.m. – Nida Nebahat Nalçacı (Bilkent University): Inherited
Institution: Ottoman State Slavery and War Captives
4.30 p.m. – Discussion
8.00 p.m. – Conference dinner

24th March
Panel 4: Public Slavery in Transition
Chair: Jane Webster (Newcastle University)
9.15 a.m. – Andrea Binsfeld (Université du Luxembourg): Public Slaves in
Late Antiquity
9.45 a.m. – Ahmadou Séhou (Université de Maroua): ‘Matchoube laamiibe’ : les
esclaves du palais dans les lamidats de l’Adamaoua (Nord-Cameroun), XIXe-XXe
10.15 a.m. – Discussion
10.45 a.m. – Coffee Break
11.15 a.m. – Round Table

Final Discussion


The conference is part of the “Servi Publici: Everybody’s Slaves (SPES)” project, which is based at Newcastle University, and has received funding from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (H2020-MSCA-IF-2015) under grant agreement No 704716.


SPES project focuses on public slavery in the Roman World and sets out to provide a full-scale reconsideration of the position of public slaves in Roman society through a multidisciplinary and comparative study. One of the main objectives of this project is to cross-fertilize the historiography of ancient and modern slavery in order to thoroughly understand the predicament and historical significance of the slaves owned by a community, across a broad chronological and geographical range.

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