CFP | Due 1 May 2023 | Retrospectives on Child Slavery in Africa | Special Issue of Genealogy

CFP Genealogy Special Issue “Retrospectives on Child Slavery in Africa”

Dr. Robin P. Chapdelaine,Guest Editor

Deadline for Abstracts: May 1, 2023

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

The history of child slavery and systems of forced/coerced labor continues to be a rising topic, as is the focus on the contemporary trafficking of children (Allain 2012; Duane 2017; Pelckmans 2013; Razy and Rodet 2016; Rossi 2015). In 2009, historians Gwyn Campbell, Suzanne Miers, and Joseph C. Miller published the first comprehensive edited collection on child slavery throughout history and another in 2011 focused on modern child slavery. The former focuses on defining ‘who is a child’ and the latter on ‘what is slavery’. These are instructive texts on how ‘to do’ child slavery history and provide a basis on which scholars can move forward. Additionally, although there remains the question of whether historical slavery and modern systems of forced and coerced labor should be considered synonymous, scholars and policy makers continue to pay attention to various forms of unfree statuses throughout history (Kara 2017; Lawrance 2010; Quirk and Vigneswaran 2013).

Many nineteenth-century abolitionists and humanitarians celebrated the collapse of the transatlantic slave trade as a noteworthy success even though African domestic slavery rose exponentially in its aftermath. This “reinvention and reconfiguration” of slavery deserves scholarly consideration, especially as it relates to children (Chapdelaine 2021; Law 1995; Lawrance 2012; Shell 2018). Anna Mae Duane argues that “although children are often excluded from the calculus of who counts as a slave, they have long been central to defining slavery itself,” precisely because of the child’s vulnerability and dependency on others (2017). Examining children’s vulnerabilities and dependencies is essential to understanding their daily experiences.

This Special Issue, Retrospectives on Child Slavery in Africa, will focus on children who inhabited unfree social statuses throughout history.  As noted in the American Historical Review Exchange (2020) on children’s histories, scholars continue to debate the efficacy of doing children’s history. It has, however, been argued that “children should be historicized, in their own right, as slaves” (Chapdelaine 2021). This is true even when there is limited archival material that represents their voices (Lawrance 2014). It is within this context that Genealogy is asking authors to share their perspectives and historical research on child slaves with the following questions in mind.

Questions to consider:

  1. Who is a child? What is child slavery?
  2. Where are children’s voices in the archives?
  3. What types of tasks did child slaves perform?
  4. How did masters and guardians conceal child slavery?
  5. How do children’s experiences add to larger African histories?
  6. How can oral history contribute to the history of child slaves?
  7. How did African politics, religion, agriculture, commercial activities, etc. incorporate child slaves?

These are just some questions to consider, among many more.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400–600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to by May 1, 2023. Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editor for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer-review.


Allain, Jean, ed. The Legal Understanding of Slavery: From the Historical to the Contemporary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Campbell, Gwyn, Suzanne Miers, and Joseph C. Miller, eds. Children in Slavery through the Ages. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2009.

Child Slaves in the Modern World. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2011.

Chapdelaine, Robin Phylisia. The Persistence of Slavery: An Economic History of Child Trafficking in Nigeria. Amherst, MA: Massachusetts University Press, 2021.

_______”Little Voices: The Importance and Limitations of Children’s Histories,” The American Historical Review, Exchange: Historians and the Problem of Childhood, Vol. 125, Iss. 4, October 2020: 1296–1299.

Duane, Anna Mae, ed. Child Slavery before and after Emancipation: An Argument for Child-Centered Slavery Studies. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Kara, Siddharth. Modern Slavery: A Global Perspective. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.

Law, Robin, ed. From Slave Trade to “Legitimate” Commerce: The Commercial Transition in Nineteenth-Century West Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Lawrance, Benjamin N. Amistad’s Orphans: An Atlantic Story of Children, Slavery, and Smuggling. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014.

______“From Child Labor ‘Problem’ to Human Trafficking ‘Crises’: Child Advocacy and Anti Trafficking Legislation in Ghana.” International Labor and Working Class History, no. 78 (Fall 2010): 63–88.

Lawrance, Benjamin N., and Richard L. Roberts, eds. Trafficking in Slavery’s Wake: Law and the Experience of Women and Children in Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2012.

Razy, Elodie, and Marie Rodet, eds. Children on the Move in Africa: Past and Present Experiences of Migration. Suffolk: James Currey, 2016.

Shell, Sandra Rowoldt. Children of Hope: The Odyssey of the Oromo Slaves from Ethiopia to South Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2018.

Quirk, Joel and Darshan Vigneswaran. Slavery, Migration and Contemporary Bondage in Africa. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2013.

Dr. Robin P. Chapdelaine
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Genealogy is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Authors may use MDPI’s English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.