Historicizing Extramural Convict Labour: Trajectories and Transitions in Early Modern Europe

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New global histories of punishment are steadily decentring the history of punishment and convict labour, challenging traditional conceptions of a linear path towards a single penal modernity and the penitentiary as the telos of its history. Through an exploration of three strands of extramural convict labour emerging in Copenhagen (1558), Ulm (1561), and Almadén (1566), this interpretative essay argues that this challenge can be furthered by taking a view of Europe's own penal history from which the focus is less on origins and more on how the landscape of punishment evolved through a continuous and largely contingent process of assemblage. In this process, a few key elements-labour, displacement, pain, and confinement-were combined and mixed to different effects in specific contexts. Along with that approach comes the need to historicize the process by relating it to other practices of labour coercion, both within the penal field and outside it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Social History
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)111-133
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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