CfP "“Catholic Abolitionisms", Trier (Germany), June 15-16, 2023

Miriam Franchina Announcement
Subject Fields
Atlantic History / Studies, Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, Slavery, Spanish and Portuguese History / Studies
Damien Tricoire (Universität Trier), Miriam Franchina (Universität Trier), and Jeremy Popkin (Univ. of Kentucky) are organizing a conference entitled “Catholic Abolitionisms.” The conference will be held in Trier (Germany) on June 15-16, 2023. We invite interested scholars to send a 250-word proposal for a 20 minutes presentation to Miriam Franchina  ( by September 30, 2022.

If accepted, speakers will be asked to circulate a draft of their talk shortly before the conference.

Usually, historiography tends to associate abolitionist movements with Protestant and anglophone movements. Our central question is whether or not, and to what extent, Catholicism inspired abolitionist ideas and movements in the Atlantic world during the early modern era. We use “abolitionisms” in the plural to include instances that may not be connected because of their chronological or geographical distance and to suggest a comparative dimension. We think that a variety of actors (clergymen, indigenous populations, enslaved Africans and Afro-Creoles, members of the Roman Curia, intellectuals in Europe and the Americas, both in colonial times and after independence) may have resorted to Catholic ideas as an argument to criticize the slave trade and colonial slavery fundamentally; and to Catholic networks to concretely reform and possibly abolish the slave trade.  Topics for the conference include (but are not limited to):
  1. The attitude and actions of specific groups of clergy (notably religious orders) to the question of slavery and slave trade, for example, how the Dominicans with Las Casas (16th c.), or the Capuchins with De Jaca and Moirans (17th c.) substantially contested slavery and the slave trade.
  2. The attitude and ensuing actions taken by the Roman Curia based on reports and requests coming from missionaries across the world, both before and after officially condemning slavery in 1839 (for example, the 11 articles issued in 1686 on the enslavement of Africans; or the ad-hoc deliberations on specific “cases of conscience” submitted by missionaries from the Americas).
  3. Catholic-inspired movements of protest and rebellion by indigenous people in the Americas, for example, the rebellion led by the messianic leader Juan Santos Atahualpa in Peru (second half of the 18th c.).
  4. Catholic-inspired movements of protest and rebellion by enslaved Africans and Afro-Creoles in the Americas and West and Central Africa, for example, the messianic and reform Catholicism movement led by the Beatriz Kimpa Vita in the Kingdom of Kongo (early 18th c. ).
  5. Catholic-inspired intellectual circles and networks in Europe and the Americas in the age of abolition, for example, the Abbé Gregoire’s political action and treatises during the French Revolution.
  6. The influence of Catholic-inspired arguments against slavery on intellectuals and politicians who acted in a secular sphere or were personally Protestant, for example, Brissot’s abolitionism.
  7. Trans-confessional networks that debated abolitionism with religious arguments, for example, King Christophe of Haiti and the English abolitionist Thomas Clarkson
Please note that we do not have a precise overview of the funding available at this stage. It would be helpful if you could kindly let us know whether you had any traveling funds available. Online attendance can also be arranged. To learn more about the venue, check out this virtual tour of the Schatzkammer of the City Library of Trier. I am looking forward to hearing from you. Do not hesitate to contact me for any further queries. Miriam Franchina

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Miriam Franchina

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