08. September 2023

BCDSS-Fellow Workshop: Labour that Heals the Soul. The Meaning of the Prisoners' Work in the Prisons of the Early Modern Period. BCDSS-Fellow Workshop: Labour that Heals the Soul.

organised by Katja Makhotina

Katja Makhotina from the University of Bonn will organise a BCDSS-Fellow-Workshop from 12th to 13th October 2023. It's main concern will be "Labour that Heals the Soul. The Meaning of the Prisoners' Work in the Prisons of the Early Modern Period."

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In the early modern period, forced labour went hand in hand with imprisonment and had an inherent punitive logic: the publicly performed labour of prisoners was supposed to have a deterrent effect and act preventively, similar to rituals of corporal punishment. In the context of the centralisation of absolutist power for the "state of common good", a complementary view of the work of imprisoned delinquents emerged: it had to be increasingly conveyed as a means of human improvement. The police objectives were combined with the reformatory purposes. Work became the antithesis of idleness, and in the penitentiaries of Europe the convicts not only had to be made to work for fiscal purposes, but the poor also had to be (re)educated to work.

This new moral-theological conception of work developed into a transconfessional and transcultural phenomenon. This work for self-improvement existed in work-houses in the Catholic lands of the Habsburg Crown, in tucht-huizen in the Reformed Netherlands, in Protestant penitentiaries of Prussia and Brandenburg, in English work-houses and in Russian Orthodox rabotnye doma. The discursive change in the concept of labour is closely linked with the change in the logic of punishment: it is no longer about punishment, but about educating, improving and re-integrating of the offenders.

The planned workshop brings together case studies from different cultural contexts: Austrian Lombardy, Prussia, the Russian Empire, Denmark, the center part of the Habsburg Empire (Vienna), England and France. It will ask about the genealogy of the discourse of labour and the possible transfers and retransfers of the concept of penal labour as a means of correction. How much humanism and how much rationalism underlay this change?

The workshop is also intended as a contribution to a global history of confinement.

The programm can be found underneath.

12th October, Thursday

Introduction: 10:00 – 10:45

  • Katja Makhotina (Bonn)

Panel 1: 11:00 – 12:30

  • Andrea Giuliani (Rome): Preventing and Punishing Crime. Forced Labour in Austrian Lombardy between Casa di Correzione and Ergastolo
  • Teresa Petrik (Wien): Violence, Work, and Deportation: Intersecting Fields of Coercion in the Viennese Workhouse during the 18th century

Lunch Break: 12:30 – 14:00

Panel 2: 14:00 – 15:30

  • Katja Makhotina (Bonn): Work as a Prescription against Idleness: The Discourses of Labor in the First Disciplinary Institutions of Early Modern Russia
  • Emilie Luther Valentin (Kopenhagen): Caught between Poor Relief and Penal Labour: Cases from the Prison Workhouse at Christianshavn, 1769-1800

Coffee Break: 15:30 – 16:00

Lecture: 16:00 – 17:30

  • Hillary Taylor (Cambridge): New Solutions to 'perennial' Problems of Labor Discipline: the Crowley Ironworks, England, c. 1700, reconsidered

Dinner: 19:00

13th October, Friday

Panel 4: 10:00 – 11:00

  • Thomas Grunewald (Halle): Labor Discourses in Pietist Institutions in German Lands (work title)

Coffee Break: 11.00 – 11.30

Outlook and conclusions: 11:30 – 12:30

  • Alexandra Oberländer (Berlin) and Katja Makhotina (Bonn): Working Soviet? - What was Actually Soviet about Working in Late Socialism?

Lunch and Good bye!

If you want to join the workshop, you can find further information right here.

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