Indian Ocean World Centre

CFP: The IOWC Network for Slavery, Bondage, and the Environment in the IOW Conference and Workshop

Call for Papers

In September 2022, the Indian Ocean World Centre (IOWC) of McGill University founded the first global network dedicated to researching the intersections of slavery, bondage, and the environment in the Indian Ocean World (IOW). The intention was, and remains, to build a global community of scholars from the social sciences and humanities who may collectively develop projects and share resources related to two of the IOW’s most pressing challenges: climate change and ‘unfree’ labour. Both historical and contemporary analyses suggest that these phenomena are highly inter-related, with labour exploitation becoming more brutal and widespread during periods of environmental stress. Thus, systematically addressing these themes is of particular urgence today, as climate breakdown accelerates, which may increase the vulnerability of the most socially marginalized to conditions of slavery and other forms of bondage.

Bearing these large themes and aims in mind, this call for papers is necessarily exploratory. Although original research papers are welcomed, we also invite scholars to present broad overviews of their ongoing or recent research (since 2018) into the ways in which the themes of the Network intersect.

Questions of relevance include, but are not limited to:

  • What methods are you using to investigate the links between slavery/bondage/the environment, and with what disciplinary training/interdisciplinary collaborations?
  • What questions are you asking of your sources, whether historical or contemporary?
  • What ethical issues are you encountering, and how are you navigating them?
  • How are you linking your research to contemporary policy as it pertains to confronting the contemporary challenges of climate change and slavery/bondage in the IOW?

We hope that by asking these questions, the conference and workshop will:

  • Introduce members of the IOWC’s Network on Slavery, Bondage, and the Environment in the IOW to each other.
  • Enable the sharing of ideas related to the intersections of slavery, bondage, and the environment across global regions, institutions, and disciplines.
  • Foster interdisciplinary collaborations for future projects.
  • Lay the foundations for an open-access working bibliography of research published since 2018 on slavery, bondage, and the environment in the IOW.
The Practicalities
  • This is an online-only conference and workshop, which will ensure accessibility to the maximum number of interested scholars from across the world.
  • It will take place across 3 mornings ET (8am-12pm) on 24-26 May 2023.
  • It will comprise of panels of accepted papers and a number of discussions and reflections in breakout rooms on the wider themes being discussed.
  • Scholars are invited to submit paper proposals to Dr Philip Gooding (philip.gooding [at] and the IOWC (iowc [at] by Tuesday 31 January 2023. Submissions should take the form of a 150-250-word abstract and a 100-word scholarly bio.
  • Scholars who are not prepared to present a paper but who would like to participate in the conference and breakout rooms should also submit a bio to the same addresses.
  • All participants are encouraged to join the IOWC’s Network on Slavery, Bondage, and the Environment in the IOW, which they can do (for free) here.

Book Launch – On the Frontiers of the Indian Ocean World: A History of Lake Tanganyika, c.1830-1890

We are pleased to invite you to the launch of Dr Philip Gooding’s first monograph: On the Frontiers of the Indian Ocean World: A History of Lake Tanganyika, c.1830-1890 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022). Philip is a postdoctoral researcher at the IOWC and continues to work on the IOWC’s Partnership project, Appraising Risk. At the event, he will introduce his book and will be joined by Prof. Elizabeth Elbourne (History and Classical Studies) and Prof. Khalid Medani (African Studies), who will act as discussants. Copies of the book will be available for sale from Paragraphe Bookstore.

The launch will be held in Morrice Hall 017 (TNC Theatre), McGill University at 14:30-15:30 ET on Friday 18 November. Full details are in the attached poster.

Philip has additionally written a short blog post on FifteenEightyFour that introduces the book and gives a flavour of what potential attendees might expect at the event.

IOWC Fall 2022 Speaker Series and Podcast Schedule

The IOWC’s Fall 2022 Speaker Series Schedule has now been released. New episodes of the Indian Ocean World Podcast will be released in conjunction with the Speaker Series.

Please see the schedule here.

Register for the Appraising Risk Summer School Workshop!

This workshop serves two core purposes. First, it is an update on some of the work being conducted as part of the SSHRC Partnership Project, ‘Appraising Risk, Past and Present: Interrogating Historical Data to Enhance Understanding of Environmental Crises in the Indian Ocean World.’ Workshop participants will learn how to standardise archival materials relating to rainfall in the Indian Ocean World, using late-nineteenth-century eastern Africa as a case study. Second, it is an introduction to some of the themes and methods to be explored in the IOWC online conference taking place on 25-27 May 2022,
entitled, ‘Adaptation and Resilience to Climatic and Environmental Changes in the Indian Ocean World, Past to Present.’ All workshop participants are invited and encouraged to attend the conference.

Register Here:

IOWC Winter 2022 Speaker Series

Find out more about the Winter 2022 Speaker Series here!