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Swiss Conservatives and the Struggle for the Abolition of Slavery at the End of the Nineteenth Century*

  • Thomas David and Janick Marina Schaufelbuehl

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This article examines the Swiss anti-slavery movement during the last third of the nineteenth century. Despite being a country without colonies, Switzerland actively participated in international anti-slavery networks, often linked to the armed conquest of Central Africa.

Through an analysis of the socio-political affiliations of the leaders of these abolitionist campaigns in Switzerland, the authors show how the Swiss conservative protestant elite, whose role in international philanthropy had become more important after the founding of the Red Cross, relied on the anti-slavery movement, not only to reinforce its position in international networks, but also to pursue political and social objectives on a domestic level, in particular the “social regeneration” of the country.

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* Previous versions of this paper have been presented at different conferences. We would like to thank the participants in these conferences as well as Bouda Etemad, Harald Fischer-Tiné, Patrick Harries, Claude Lützelschwab, Kristina Mundall, Christian Topalov, Klaus Weber, and two anonymous referees for their precious comments and Elisabeth Spilman for her very helpful research assistance.

** Thomas David and Janick Marina Schaufelbuehl both teach at the Institute for Economic and Social History at the University of Lausanne.

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Swiss Conservatives and the Struggle for the Abolition of Slavery at the End of the Nineteenth Century*

  • Thomas David and Janick Marina Schaufelbuehl

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