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Research Associate on the project ‘German Slavery’ and Doctoral Candidate

Email: a.baerwald(at)
Office: GW2, Room B1440
Tel.: +49 421 218-67226

Current project

Non-white trafficked persons in the Hamburg area in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries

The project focuses on non-white trafficked people’s presence, mobility, and forms of dependency in Hamburg and neighboring communities such as Altona, Ahrensburg, and Rellingen. It studies trafficking, potential enslavement, as well as agency displayed by none-white persons in an urban, non-monarchical environment.  
Eighteenth-century Hamburg saw an immense economic growth largely due to its overseas trade. Through merchants’ activities, Hamburg’s and Altona’s harbors were closely connected to the Atlantic slave-based economies. An elite of merchant families also dominated Hamburg’s domestic republican policies. While the conspicuously rich, representative, and cosmopolitan estates of the city’s elites may have been the reason for employing non-white personnel, this practice was awkwardly accompanied by a public discourse of “patriotism” and social welfare. The project therefore asks under which circumstances trafficked people reached Hamburg. What framework did merchant families and other urban elites establish there? In how far did dependency relations constitute forms of un-freedom, even slavery, and what other concepts might apply? Most of all, however, the project is interest in the way trafficked people navigated this environment. It thus aims at studying biographical milestones, instances of agency, resistance, limitations, and, wherever possibly, self-perception and individuation. On a broader scale, the projects connects these insights with research on contemporaneous practices and discourses of enslavement, freedom and un-freedom in the Hamburg area.


Since 2017: Research Associate and Doctoral Candidate on the ERC Consolidator Grant project ‘The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and its Slaves’, University of Bremen

20152017: Studies in history (University of Bremen), school teacher in Bremen

20132015: Teacher training and Second State Examination in Bremen

20122013: Master’s degree in American Studies (University of Amsterdam), thesis: “Coming of Age in Houston: The Libertarian Transformation of a City and Its Impact on the Formation of a New Generation of Americans”

20102011: Fulbright Foreign Language Assistant at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire

20072012: First State Examination, teacher’s training certificate in English and German (University of Duisburg-Essen), thesis: “Changing Concepts of Race and Blackness in American Culture“

Presentations and Talks

  • March 2022: “‘Exotic‘ Entertainment: Romantic Hamburg and Its Domestic Workers and Performers of non-European Descent,” Workshop Romantic Travel: Writing Germany and ‘the North’, organizer: James Vigus, Hamburg Institute for Advanced Study
  • November 2021: “Precarious Transitions: Enslaved, Formerly Enslaved, and Free-Born Domestic Servants of Color in Hamburg, 1785-1840,” PhD Seminar on Slavery & Servitude, Universiteit Leiden, Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, University of Hull Wilberforce Institute, Leiden
  • October 2021: “The Port City as Borderland: Hamburg, Its Non-European Migrants, and the Production of Difference, 1750-1840,” Fifth Annual Bucerius Young Scholars Forum, German Historical Institute Berkeley, supported by the ZEIT Foundation
  • February 2021: (with Julia Holzmann) „Mobilität und Zwang: Verschleppung, Verbannung und freiwillige Reisen zwischen Amerika, der niederländischen Republik sowie dem Alten Reich.“ (Mobility and Force: Abduction, Banishment and Voluntary Travel between America, the Dutch Republic and the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation), Early Modern History colloquium, University of Tübingen
  • October 2020: „Atlantisches Prekariat? Hamburger Zivilgesellschaft, Behörden und der Umgang mit nicht-weißen ArbeiterInnen, ca. 1750-1840,“ (Atlantic Precariat? Hamburg’s Civil Society, Institutions and the Interaction with non-White Laborers, c. 1750-1840), Early Modern History workshop, University of Jena
  • November 2019: “Transatlantische Arbeitsräume: Freiheit, Unfreiheit und nicht-weiße Mobilität zwischen Hamburg und der Karibik, ca. 1750-1840,” (Transatlantic Working Spaces? Freedom, Unfreedom and non-White Mobility between Hamburg and the Caribbean, c. 1750-1840) Early Modern History colloquium, University of Zurich
  • November 2019: „Seeleute, Händler und Versklavte: HamburgerInnen und afro-karibische Menschen zwischen St. Thomas und Europa, 1800-1840,” (Sailors, Merchants, and Enslaved People: Hamburgians and Afro-Caribbean People between St. Thomas and Europe, 1800-1840), Public Talks of the Young Historians’ Association Hamburg (Junge Hamburger Geschichtswissenschaft), Hamburg
  • August 2019: “Ports of Non-White Mobility: African, Asian, and American Workers in Hamburg and Altona, 1750-1840,” Sixth Summer Academy of Atlantic History, University of Bayreuth, Bernried
  • July 2019: “To Be Young, Employable, and Black. Expectation and Self-Presentation of People of Color Navigating a Northern European Job Market, 1790-1840,” ISECS 15th International Congress on the Enlightenment, Edinburgh
  • March 2019: „Black Hamburg: People of Color Navigating the Job Market in an Early Modern European Port City,” Graduate Workshop: European History Across Boundaries, IEG Mainz & University of Oxford
  • November 2018: “Kosmopolitinnen, Schausteller, Versklavte? Verschleppung und Facetten nichtweißer Lebenswege im frühneuzeitlichen Hamburg,“ (Cosmopolites, Showpeople, Slaves? Abduction and Facets of non-White Biographies in Early Modern Hamburg) Early Modern History colloquium, University of Bremen
  • September 2018: “(In)Voluntary Residence? Trafficked People of Color in Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Hamburg”, ESTER Research Design Course for PhD Students in Social and Economic History, Radboud University & European Research Institute Florence
  • June 2018: "Cosmopolitan Careers between Dependency and Self-Assertion. Employment of People of Color in Early Nineteenth Century Hamburg," Global History Student Conference, History Department, Istanbul Şehir Universität.
  • April 2018: "Eine gescheiterte Utopie? Bremer Kaufleute, ein koloniales Projekt und der Versuch, die 'Baumwollfrage' zu lösen," [A failed utopia? Bremen merchants, a colonial project, and the attempt to solve the 'cotton question'], presentation for the lecture series Global Cotton organized by the Institute for Ethnology and Cultural Studies, Bremen University
  • May 2017: “A Dream of Colonial Cotton: Bremen’s Economic Interests and the Quest for Resource Autarchy in Colonial Togo,” Global History Student Conference, Friedrich Meinecke Institut, Free University of Berlin.


Book chapters and scientific publications

  • “Atlantic Slavery and Its Repercussions in German-Speaking Territories, c. 1650–1850”, WORCK Cost Action Bibliographies, Aug 2021,
  • „Black Hamburg: People of Asian and African Descent Navigating a Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Job Market,” in: Josef Köstlbauer, Sarah Lentz, Rebekka von Mallinckrodt (eds.) Beyond Exceptionalism: Traces of Slavery and the Slave Trade in Early Modern Germany, 1650–1850, to be published (Aug 2021)
  • (with Rebekka von Mallinckrodt and Josef Köstlbauer): „People of African Descent in Early Modern Europe,“ Oxford Bibliographies Online, January 2020
  • „Bremer Baumwollträume. Bremer Wirtschaftsinteressen und das Streben nach Rohstoffautarkie im kolonialen Togo,“ bonjour.geschichte: bremer online journal 5 (2017), pp. 1-30
  • “Handel und Landraub. Bremer Kaufleute in Afrika“, in: Anna Mamzer, Eva Schöck-Quinteros, Mareike Witkowski (eds.). Bremen - eine Stadt der Kolonien? Szenische Lesung mit der Bremer Shakespeare Company (Aus den Akten auf die Bühne, vol. 10). Bremen 2016, pp. 17-20.


  • Section Report: „Das Alte Reich und die Schweiz in globaler Perspektive“ (The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and Switzerland in Gloabl Perspective) , HSozKult, December 2021
  • Conference Report: „Spuren des Sklavenhandels im Heiligen Römischen Reich und seinen Nachfolgestaaten. Diskurse, Praktiken und Objekte 1500–1850“ (Traces of the Slave Trade in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and its Successor States. Discourses, Practices, and Objects, 1500–1850), HSozKult, April 2019; English translation published on H-Slavery
  • Conference Report (with Christina Sachs): „Geschichte im Rampenlicht. Inszenierungen historischer Quellen im Theater“ (History in the Sportlight. Stagings of Historical Sources in Theaters), HSozKult, Januar 2018