Logo for conference
Leiden logo
Call for Papers

Slavery Past, Present & Future

July 11-13, 2022

To be held in person at Webster Leiden Campus-Webster University USA, The Netherlands.

Global Meeting

slavery meeting

Slavery (the treatment of humans as chattel) and enslavement through conquest, birth, gender, race, ethnicity, kinship, and exploitation of indebtedness have been an intrinsic part of human societies.

Slavery and a variety of other forms of exploitation existed in ancient societies across the world, and in many other states and territories. The Transatlantic Slave Trade furnished at least 10 million Africans for slavery throughout the Americas. 

Controversial and contested estimates indicate that up to 40 million people worldwide are enslaved today. This modern re-emergence of slavery into public view, following legal abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade over 200 years ago, is said to be linked to the deepening interconnectedness of countries in the global economy, overpopulation, and the economic and other vulnerabilities of individual victims and communities.

But should we think of these people as enslaved? And if so, is slavery an inevitable part of the human condition? Like “consumers” of past eras, such as early industrialization, are we dependent on the exploitation of others? What does the persistence and mutations of different forms of exploitation mean in the context of abolition and recognition of universal individual and collective human rights? 

The varieties of contemporary forms of exploitation appear to be endless. This interdisciplinary conference will facilitate a multidisciplinary exploration of slavery in all its dimensions. 

Meeting Format

In keeping with previous meetings, the format of the Slavery Past, Present and Future Conference this year will be plenary. We intend to hold the meetings in person, and expect those who register to attend all the sessions in order to facilitate a genuine cross-fertilization of ideas across identities, disciplines, and subject areas.

  • Please note in case of COVID-19 restricting mobility and participation, we will pivot to online in the event that travel restrictions require it (in which case, the registration fee would be lowered/partially refunded).


Tentative Schedule

Experiential component focusing on slavery footprint of the Dutch. Museum visit and walking tour in Amsterdam.

Conference proceedings followed by a borrel (wine and cheese reception).

Conference proceedings, conference ends 3:00 p.m.


Submissions are sought from people from all walks of life and identities, including

        • Academics: from all disciplines, such as art, film, anthropology, sociology, law, history, ethnic studies, politics, social work, economics, and any field that touches the study of exploitation
        • Civil society members: human rights activists, leaders in non-governmental organizations, and others in the NGO or social advocacy fields
        • Professionals: social workers, lawyers, corporate social responsibility and business ethics professionals, business leaders, and health care professionals
        • Government actors: representatives, policymakers, lobbyists, and analysts
        • Global citizens with personal connections to slavery or exploitation: former enslaved persons or indentured laborers, members of at-risk populations, migrant or guest workers, non-regularized immigrants, and refugees. 


                    We particularly encourage submissions from the Global South.


Please note that we are open to receiving papers on a wide variety of topics related to slavery, including but not limited to those listed below. However, given that this year’s conference will be in The Netherlands, we are keen to receive papers that speak to the Transatlantic Slave Trade, especially including the role of The Netherlands in that trade.

Additionally, the conference will be hosted by Webster University (Leiden), which, through its partner TheBridge2Hope, is deeply involved in addressing the psychosocial and vocational needs of human trafficking survivors. Accordingly, we also greatly welcome papers related to human trafficking.

Potential Themes and Sub-Themes


The Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Indian Ocean Slave Trade

Corporate Involvement

Legal Frameworks for Redress

Hidden Figures of Enslavement

Geographic Routes

Corporate Involvement

Legal Frameworks for Redress

Hidden Figures of Human Trafficking

(Dis)similarities Between Historic and Contemporary Forms of Human Exploitation

The Architecture of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Architecture of the Indian Ocean Slave Trade

Reconstruction in the United States

Jim Crow Laws and Practices

New Jim Crow Laws and Practices

Oral Histories

Written First Person Narratives

Visual Art, Music, Fiction and Poetry

Published Histories and Biographies

Racism and Colorism

Housing Discrimination

Wealth Disparity

Education Disparity

The Challenges Posed by Law Enforcement

The Challenges Posed by Courts




Monument building


Sites of Resistance

Living Quarters and Burial Grounds of the Enslaved

Religious and Education Sites of the Enslaved

Human Auction Artifacts

Historic Marker Campaigns

Archive Development

Submitting Your Proposal

Please use this form to submit your proposal. The form gathers a small amount of contact information and then allows for a file upload of your proposal, which should be in a Word.doc or docx file.

The following information will be asked on the form:

      1. Affiliation as you would like it to appear in the conference program
      2. Author(s) as you would like listed in the conference program
      3. Main author/submitter's email address

Proposal Upload File 

File must be in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) format.

The following information must be in the Microsoft Word file:

  • Title of proposal
  • Body of proposal (maximum of 300 words)
  • Keywords (maximum of 10)

Please keep the following in mind:

  • All text must be in Times New Roman 12.
  • No footnotes or special formatting (bold, underline, or italicization) must be used.


  • By sending an abstract you are committing yourself to attend all the sessions in order to engage fully in the emerging debates.

Update: Call for papers extended until Thursday, 31 March, 2022

Submission Link


Evaluating Your Proposal

All abstracts will be double-blind peer reviewed, and you will be notified of the Steering Committee’s decision no later than Thursday, April 14, 2022. If a positive decision is made, you will be asked to promptly register online. You will be asked to submit a draft paper of no more than 2,000 words by Friday, July 1, 2022.

The conference registration fee is Euro 220.  

We offer a limited number of fellowships to participants who would otherwise be foreclosed from attending. The fellowships take the form of registration deferrals.

Steering Committee  

            • Karen E. Bravo (Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Indiana, USA)
            • David Bulla (Augusta University, Georgia, USA)
            • Ursula Doyle (Northern Kentucky University School of Law, Kentucky, USA)
            • Judith Onwubiko (University of Kent, United Kingdom)
            • Ulrich Pallua (University of Innsbruck, Austria)
            • Sheetal Shah (Webster Leiden Campus-Webster University USA, The Netherlands)
            • Judith Spicksley (University of Hull, United Kingdom)