Konferenz: Enslavement and Art. Forced Labor in the History of Art

Date(s) - 17/06/2024 - 18/06/2024

Humboldt Labor im Humboldt Forum
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Enslavement and Art. Forced Labor in the History of Art

Forced labor is a broad category all too often taken to comprise a human condition whose only shared feature is broadly defined as the control over another human, especially in regards to their labor and reproductive capacities (categories of ‘slavery’, ‘forced labor’ as well as ‘unfree’, ‘enslaved’, and ‘indentured human condition’ are still poorly defined in this context). Forced labor was and continues to play a central role in the intimate entanglement of aesthetics and commerce. Art production and patronage were part of networks that unfree humans aided in financing. These networks continue to echo in the collections, libraries, and museums, many built through the profit of unfree humans, that hold premodern and modern art today.  This conference seeks to expand our current understanding of the role forced labor played in the world of art making and consumption. It challenges concepts of heritage and their corresponding attributions of identity, representation and ownership, and looks at transformations of value, from the perspective of forced labor. Hopefully, this conference will therefore prompt comparative thinking to uncover the foundations, the structures, the practices, as well as the sustained  consequences and current realities of forced labor in relations to art.


17 June 2024

Humboldt Labor at Humboldt Forum (Schloßplatz 1, 10178 Berlin)


09.00-09.30 Coffee




Eva Ehninger (Berlin) and Ittai Weinryb (New York, NY)




Valika Smeulders (Amsterdam): “… Placing a Moor Next to Young Girls”: The Colonial World Order in Dutch Art

Meredith Martin (New York, NY): Neoclassicism and Pro-Slavery Ideology in Paris and Saint-Domingue

Burcu Dogramaci (Munich): Remembering Forced Labor: DP Artist Exhibitions in Munich in 1947 and 1948

Moderation and Response: Elisaveta Dvorakk (Berlin)


12.15-14.15 Lunch Break




Anna Arabindan-Kesson (Princeton, NJ): Mobile Enclosures: Cultivating Plantation Life Across the British Empire

Carrie Pilto (Amsterdam): Someone Is Getting Rich

Moderation and Response: Johanna Függer-Vagts (Berlin)



Kino Central (Rosenthaler Str. 39, 10178 Berlin)


Other Women Stopped Work and Joined Us: Filmic Reimagination of Work in Yugantar‘s Molkarin

Film Screening and Conversation with Pallavi Paul (New Delhi) and Nicole Wolf (London)

Organization and Moderation: Aisha Allakhverdieva, Franziska Blume, Justine Ney and Hanna Steinert (Berlin)


18 June 2024

Humboldt Labor at Humboldt Forum (Schloßplatz 1, 10178 Berlin)




Jennifer Chuong (Cambridge, MA): An Unforced Production: Dox Thrash and the Invention of Carborundum Engraving

Elizabeth Dospel Williams (Washington, D.C.): Concealing/Revealing: Depictions of the Enslaved in Late Antique Furnishing Textiles

Matthew Rampley (Brno): Modern Architecture and Global Material Extraction

Moderation and Response: Juliette Calvarin (Berlin)


12.15-13.45 Lunch Break




Ana Lucia Araujo (Washington, D.C.): Iron: The World Enslaved Blacksmiths Made in the Americas

Mahalakshmi Rakesh (New Delhi) and Sneha Ganguly (New Delhi): Artisanal Production and Agency: Regulations and Control in Early India

David Joselit (Cambridge, MA): Disfiguration and Survivance

Moderation and Response: Katja Müller-Helle (Berlin)



Closing Remarks


Registration: Admission is by registration only. To participate on-site or via Zoom, please register using the following link: https://inherit.hu-berlin.de/events/enslavement-and-art-forced-labor-in-the-history-of-art

Organisation:  Prof. Dr. Eva Ehninger, Käte Hamburger Kolleg | Centre for Advanced Study inherit. heritage in transformation, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Prof. Dr. Ittai Weinryb, Bard Graduate Center, New York

Weiterführende Information: https://inherit.hu-berlin.de