The Institute for the Study of Slavery (ISOS) — formerly known as the International Centre for the History of Slavery — was established in 1998 by the late Thomas Wiedemann. ISOS now pursues research on historical and contemporary slavery, and forced labour in all parts of the globe and through all periods.
ISOS organises annual lectures, workshops and a bi-annual international conference. Recent guest speakers have included Professor Trevor Burnard (University of Melbourne) and Professor Ana Lucia Araujo (Howard University, Washington DC).
The Institute for the Study of Slavery (ISOS) was formerly known as the 'International Centre for the History of Slavery' and was established in 1998 by the late Thomas Wiedemann.
A classicist and professor of ancient history, Prof. Wiedemann’s ideas for the centre were shaped by his formative years spent at the Warberg Institute in London, his former position at Bristol University, and his collaborative work with scholars in Germany, especially the Mainz Academy.
At Nottingham, he was able to realise his vision for the kind of international and cross-disciplinary co-operation he had for the centre, but he lived only long enough to see the first of its conferences, on ‘The Body of the Slave,’ held in September 2000.
His passing in 2001 was a great loss to the scholarship of slavery studies, but his vision for comparative slavery and collaborative scholarship continued under the leadership for of Prof. Dick Geary, and then Prof. Stephen Hodkinson. Prof. Geary, a historian of comparative twentieth-century labour history, remained committed to the now renamed ISOS, and successfully secured funding for many collaborative projects, including large grants from UK funding bodies such as Leverhulme as well as prestigious Brazilian ones such as CAPES.
This funding facilitated numerous workshops and conferences in the UK at Nottingham and in Brazil at UNICAMP, UFF, and UFMG in Brazil. Prof. Geary also established joint projects with the Gilder Lehrman Institute and the University of Virginia in the US. The ISOS conferences were especially international, with colleagues from the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Israel, China, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, Italy, and Germany participating.
The wide-ranging and comparative nature of the conferences did not dilute or diminish the standard of debate: themes were intellectually provocative and research expectations remained consistently high. On slavery in the Anglophone world alone, there were many fruitful collaborations with scholars such as Trevor Burnard, Joseph Miller, Gad Heuman, and James Walvin.
Under new leadership, the aims of ISOS remain intellectually ambitious and far-reaching, as is demonstrated by the new book series, "Histories of Slavery and its Global Legacies," which was recently launched by Cambridge University Press with ISOS support.
ISOS brings together a range of resources and cross-disciplinary research across the University.