Comparative Perspectives on Slavery in Nineteenth-Century Siam. A talk by Claus K. Meyer


Photo from a book published at the turn of the 20th


Thai public memory associates the history of slavery in nineteenth-century Siam first and foremost with the emancipation of the slaves by King Chulalongkorn. Emancipation and the abolition of slavery in turn form an integral part of the grand narrative of Thai national history, which focuses on the uniqueness of the country and its development. This talk will suggest a different perspective, considering slavery in nineteenth-century Siam in the context of comparative slave studies. It will outline the historiography of slavery in Siam in the nineteenth century and examine ways in which comparisons with other regions may enhance our understanding of conditions in Siam.

A native of Dortmund in Germany, Dr. Claus K. Meyer studied history, economics, and public law at the nearby University of Bochum before earning a master's degree in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a doctorate in the same field from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. Dr. Meyer specializes in comparative slave studies. His doctoral research contrasts the slave-master relationship on plantations in antebellum South Carolina with the relationship between subjects and manorial lords in Old Prussia. Dr. Meyer’s interest has now turned to slavery in Siam and to the comparison between historical slaveries and extreme forms of exploitation today. An extensive historiographical essay in which Dr. Meyer discusses slaveries in the modern period is forthcoming in the Dictionary of Ancient Slavery (2017). Dr. Meyer is a lecturer in the Social Science Division of Mahidol University International College, Thailand.

Date: Tuesday, 9 May 2017
Time: 7.30 p.m.
Place: The Siam Society, 131 Asoke Montri Rd, Sukhumvit 21

Non-members donation: B200. Siam Society members, members’ spouses and children, and all students showing valid student ID cards are admitted free of charge. For more information, please contact Khun Arunsri or

Office Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9:00am. – 5:00pm.

The Siam Society is deeply grateful to the James H.W. Thompson Foundation for its generous support of the 2016-2017 Lecture Series.