The Village in Court: Arson, Infanticide, and Poaching in the Court Records of Upper Bavaria 1848-1910

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The rural village in nineteenth-century Europe was caught in a conflict between its traditional local culture and its new integration into the grasp of state institutions and modern social structures. Local practices were turned into crimes; the social meaning of crime within the village culture was redefined by the introduction of bourgeois penal law and psychiatry. The language of the intruding agencies had created, through a wealth of written documentation, an image of village life for the outside world. Criminal investigations, however, had to be based on interrogations of the villagers themselves, and it was through this questioning process that their own views, language, and symbolic gestures went on record. Schulte provides a new and original interpretation of village power structures, gender relations, and generational rites of passage through a close reading of the trial proceedings before the penal courts of Upper Bavaria for the three most important types of rural crime: arson, infanticide, and poaching.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Schulte's discussion of infanticide goes beyond what we know of this act for earlier periods...and therefore mertis attention." Canadian Journal of History

"This innovative book establishes an intersection between structuralist analysis and psychohistory in a most readable way. The examination is well illustrated by actual testimony... It is certainly accessible to readers at all levels..." Choice

"This quick summary of Schulte's book by no means does justice to the manifold ways in which the author shows 'how peasant society worked'....a fine work."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521431866
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/29/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 197
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. The break-up of the village; 2. The peasant as seen by the middle class; 3. The literature on rural relations; 4. Crime as a medium of historical anthropology; 5. Landscape with villages; Part I. Peasant Society and the Individual: 1. Fire in the village: i. The arsonist; ii. Work; iii. The village; iv. The families; 2. The mad-doctor's gaze: i. From the social symptons to the physical; ii. Female arsonists and puberty; iii. Catharsis or disease?; Part II. The Status of Women and the Place of Children: 1. The bridal wagon; 2. Silent births: i. Infanticides; ii. Time spent as a maid; iii. Relationships between unmarried farm servants; iv. 'With the angels'; v. Gossip; Part III. The Disputed Boundaries of the Village: 1. Poaching - economics, culture and sexuality: i. 'Nothing but shoot game'; ii. A trade on the edge of the village; iii. The village goes poaching; iv. The young men; v. The reality of fantasy; 2. Domination in jeopardy: i. The provincial judge - attempts to mediate; ii. The 'good natured mountain folk' and the 'stormy times'; iii. Manhood and execution; iv. A fantasy of reconciliation; Conclusion: on the threshold between two worlds.

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