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The Abolition of Slavery in the Herrnhuter Mission – Danish West India and Surinam

Researchers

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Claus Füllberg-Stolberg (Department of History)

Researcher: Jan Hüsgen, M.A. (Department of History)

Summary

This project investigates slavery in the Moravian Mission and the attitude of the missionaries towards the abolition movement. One of principal goals is to review the existing thesis that the plantations run by the missionaries were “Islands of Humanity”. The abolition of the slave trade and slave emancipation in the British Empire led to wide spread confusion among the missionaries in the Caribbean and brought the Moravian church into bitter conflict with the abolition movement in England. In consultation with the colonial powers, their own slaves were manumitted in secrecy. However as slave labour was important for the economic survival of the mission in the Caribbean the missionaries still needed their former chattel slaves after the abolition of slavery as workers for their enterprises.  

The project focuses on a micro level and tries to reconstruct the scope of action available to slaves/ex slaves. It aims at contributing  not only to the social and economic history of slavery and emancipation in the Caribbean from below but also to the history of the Moravian Church, which has hitherto been dominated by uncritical accounts of its involvement with slavery.

Contact

jan.huesgenhist.uni-hannover.de