Archivi tag: Convict Labour

Social History of Punishment and Labour Coercion – Amsterdam University Press

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Social History of Punishment and Labour Coercion

This book series is a platform for expansive understandings of practices of punishment and labour coercion. The books published in this series concern all forms of punishment which were meted out by any type of State apparatus, by individuals such as slave holders, fathers and husbands, and by social institutions such as kin and elderly councils. At the same time, labour is understood here as comprising not only wage labourers, but also enslaved, indentured, tributary and convicted workers, together with unemployed and unpaid individuals.

The series addresses the ways in which workers were punished; it deals with the role of punishment in mobilizing and immobilizing workers; and it highlights the punitive aspects of key dynamics of labour coercion, such as debt, tribute, war and anti-vagrancy laws. Punishment and labour coercion are seen here as open-ended processes: the focus lies on their practices, and how they are entangled in distinctive ways in relation to different social groups, vis-à-vis gender, age and ethnicity/race/citizenship, and across time and space.


WORCK Conference 3: Historicising Coercive Social Processes

5–7 September 2023: Prague, Czech Republic

Local Host: Jakub Štofaník, Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague

Call for Papers

You are invited to submit your paper to the conference “Historicising Coercive Social Processes”, the capstone event of COST action project WORCK (Worlds of Related Coercion in Work) funded by the Horizon Europe programme of the European Union. The conference will take place at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague on 5–7 September 2023.


Legal philosopher Alan Wertheimer wrote that “our understanding of coercion underlies… our view of various social practices”. The opposite also holds true: Researching social relations in a given historical context is essential for understanding how coercion underpins the organisation of production, the administration of punishment, and interpersonal relations in conditions of power asymmetry. In turn, social practices can only be understood within processes such as valorisation, im/mobilisation, and punishment that converge to create the historical dimension within which we understand those practices.

Moving on beyond a research agenda that seeks to posit a dichotomy between free and unfree labour or design a spectrum of scalar shades of coercion between the opposite poles of freedom and unfreedom, the WORCK network has attempted to understand how practices and processes of labour coercion can illuminate social practices (and vice versa) at specific historical junctures and in various geographical settings.

The final conference seeks to bring together scholars conducting empirical research on such practices and processes, as well as on the perspectives of historical actors and how they were entangled in social asymmetries. We welcome submissions from participants at any stage of their career, including doctoral students and independent scholars. Our aim is to attract researchers from the entire spectrum of social sciences and humanities who study labour coercion with historical perspectives in a variety of disciplines.

We are open to any contribution addressing the history of coercive social processes, including but not limited to:

  • Remuneration, valorisation, indebtedness
  • Violence, retribution, chastisement
  • Punishment and labour relations
  • Entangled spaces, coercive network
  • Conceptualising coercion: Methods and ontologies
  • Conflict, negotiation, autonomy
  • Paternalism in the household and on the shop floor
  • Environment, work, and coercion