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Call for Papers

Slavery Past, Present and Future

July 4-5, 2023

To be held in person in Accra, Ghana, in collaboration with Webster Ghana Campus-Webster University USA.

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 Transatlantic 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 and enslavement 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 and partially refunded).


Tentative Schedule

  • 2 July, Sunday: Experiential component: Accra city trip

  • 3 July, Monday: Experiential component: Museum visit followed by dinner at the hotel (conference venue)

  • 4-5 July, Tuesday and Wednesday: Conference proceedings

  • 6-7 July, Thursday and Friday: Experiential component: Overnight trip to Elmina castle

Please note: Due to traffic challenges, it is advisable to not book return flights on Friday evening, 7 July.

Potential Themes and Sub-Themes


The Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Arabic/Islamic Slave Trade

Indigenous African Slavery Practices

The Involvement of Africans in the Perpetration of the Slave Trades

Hidden Figures/Methods of Enslavement

The Role of African Traditions and Religions

Geographic Routes

Corporate Involvement

Root Causes

International Institutions and the US TVPA Regime

Anti-Slavery Politics and Funding

Hidden Figures of Human Trafficking

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

Oral Histories

Written First-Person Narratives

Visual Art, Music, Fiction and Poetry

Published Histories and Biographies

Racism and Tribalism

Gender Discrimination

Social and Economic Inequalities


Colonialism and Neocolonialism

The Challenges Posed by Law Enforcement





Monument Building

Sites of Resistance

Living Quarters and Burial Grounds of the Enslaved

Human Auction Artifacts

Historic Marker Campaigns

Archive Development

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 Ghana, we are keen to receive papers that speak to slavery and enslavement in Africa, both in the past and in the modern day.


Please use the form in the submission link 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 Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) format.

The following information will be asked for 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

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 italics) 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.

All abstracts will be double-blind peer reviewed and you will be notified of the Steering Committee’s decision no later than Wednesday, March 1, 2023. If a positive decision is made, you will be asked to promptly register online by March 31, 2023. You will be asked to submit a draft paper of no more than 2,000 words by Friday, June 23, 2023.


Proposals should be submitted no later than Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023.



Cost Per Participant

Description Amount
Conference fee 220 euros
Group trips* 340 euros
Total 560 euros

The conference registration fee is 220 euros (July 4 and 5, 2023), and experiential components are optional at an additional cost.

*Optional group trips cover:

  1. Sunday, July 2, city tour Accra: Sunday afternoon for 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Monday, July 3: Trip to museum (outskirts of Ghana) Nkyinkyim Museum (opens in new tab) in Ada (outskirts of Accra).
  3. Thursday, July 6 and 7: Overnight visit to Cape Coast (opens in new tab) with hotel accommodation and dinner. This is scheduled to take place at Coconut Grove Hotel Beach Resort (opens in new tab), Elmina, Central Region-Ghana.

Please note: Airport transfers and hotel stay (exception of 6 July) are at an additional cost, and not included in the calculation above.

We offer a limited number of fellowships to participants for the conference who would otherwise be prevented 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 (London South Bank University, 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)