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“


  • 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.