“I Have No Shortage of Moors”: Mission, Representation, and the Elusive Semantics of Slavery in Eighteenth-Century Moravian Sources
The Moravian Brethren–also known as the Moravian Church or the (renewed) Unitas Fratrum–were a radical pietistic community formed in Upper Lusatia in the1720s by the charismatic Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf together with adherents of the old Protestant church of the Bohemian Brethren who had fled from prosecution in their Moravian homeland. Even within the highly dynamic world of early modern Protestantism, the Moravian Church was extraordinary in many ways, not least because of its rapid growth and global expansion. As unlikely as it may seem, for a certain time this religious community emerging from the eastern fringes of the Empire formed a small but remarkable entryway into Germany for enslaved people. Thirty-seven individuals of non-European origin, mostly converts from colonial areas, are documented to have lived in or visited Moravian communal settlements in Germany. Among them were thirteen individuals who evidently or very likely came as slaves or captives, of which twelve were of African or Creole extraction and came to Europe from the West Indies or North America. Others were former slaves or appear to have been in positions of uncategorized but nevertheless significant dependency.
The first part of this article briefly introduces the eighteenth-century Moravian stance regarding slavery. The second part investigates Moravian motivations for transferring individuals from colonial slavery contexts to Europe and the representative function assigned to them within Moravian social and spiritual contexts. In the third part, the cases of two enslaved individuals in Germany document how Moravians were willing to claim proprietorial rights rooted in slavery. Analyzing the ambiguous and at times contradictory terminology of these and additional sources, I will explore what they can tell us about perceptions, meanings, and practices involving enslaved individuals in Moravian Germany.
|Keywords:||slavery; Atlantic History; German History; Slave Trade||Issue Date:||2021||Publisher:||De Gruyter Oldenbourg||Project:||The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and its Slaves||Grant number:||641110||Journal/Edited collection:||Beyond Exceptionalism||Start page:||109||End page:||136||Type:||Artikel/Aufsatz||ISBN:||9783110748833||DOI:||10.26092/elib/1473||URN:||urn:nbn:de:gbv:46-elib58500||Institution:||andere Institution|
|Appears in Collections:||Forschungsdokumente|
checked on Jul 2, 2022
checked on Jul 2, 2022
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