By expanding the geographical scope of the history of violence and war, this volume challenges both Western and state-centric narratives of the decline of violence and its relationship to modernity. It highlights instead similarities across early modernity in terms of representations, legitimations, applications of, and motivations for violence. It seeks to integrate methodologies of the study of violence into the history of war, thereby extending the historical significance of both fields of research. Thirteen case studies outline the myriad ways in which large-scale violence was understood and used by states and non-state actors throughout the early modern period across Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Atlantic, and Europe, demonstrating that it was far more complex than would be suggested by simple narratives of conquest and resistance. Moreover, key features of imperial violence apply equally to large-scale violence within societies. As the authors argue, violence was a continuum, ranging from small-scale, local actions to full-blown war. The latter was privileged legally and increasingly associated with states during early modernity, but its legitimacy was frequently contested and many of its violent forms, such as raiding and destruction of buildings and crops, could be found in activities not officially classed as war.
Willem de Blécourt is Honorary Research Fellow at the Huizinga Institute of Cultural History, Amsterdam. He has written numerous articles on witchcraft, popular culture and irregular medicine, published in Dutch, German and English journals such as Social History, Medical History and Gender & History. His most recent book is Het Amazonenleger [The Army of Amazons] (1999) which deals with irregular female healers in the Netherlands, 1850–1930. He is currently writing a book on werewolves to be published by London and Hambledon Press. He is also working on a history of witchcraft in the Netherlands.
Owen Davies is a Lecturer in History at the University of Hertfordshire. He has published numerous articles on the history of witchcraft and magic in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England and Wales. He is also the author of Witchcraft, magic and culture 1736–1951 (Manchester University Press, 1999) and A People Bewitched (1999). His most recent book is Cunning-Folk: Popular Magic in English History (2003).
Nils Freytag is an assistant professor at the University of Munich. He is the author of Aberglauben im 19. Jahrhundert. Preußen und seine Rheinprovinz zwischen Tradition und Moderne 1815–1918 (2003), and along with Diethard Sawicki is currently editing Entzauberte Moderne?, a collection of essays on the occult in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe. His research interests include the social, cultural and environmental history of Germany in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Susan Hoyle took early retirement from British Rail in 1996 after a varied career, mainly concerned with public transport. She is now an independent scholar and writer, and amongst other projects is working on narratives about the battle of Trafalgar, as well as Victorian witches and detectives. She lives near Land’s End.
Richard Jenkins is Professor of Sociology at the University of Sheffield. He has carried out ethnographic field research in Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Denmark. Among his recent publications are Pierre Bourdieu (2nd edn, 2002), Social Identity (1996), Rethinking Ethnicity (1997), Questions of Competence (1998) and Foundations of Sociology (2002).
Sabina Magliocco is Associate Professor of Anthropology at California State University, Northridge. She is the author of The Two Madonnas: The Politics of Festival in a Sardinian Community (1993), Neo-Pagan Sacred Art and Altars: Making Things Whole (2001), and numerous articles. A recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, she has done fieldwork in Italy and the United States on ritual, festival, folk narrative and material culture.
Stephen Mitchell is Professor of Scandinavian and Folklore at Harvard University. His research in recent years has focused on witchcraft and performance in medieval Scandinavia and includes ‘Nordic Witchcraft in Transition: Impotence, Heresy, and Diabolism in 14th-century Bergen’ (Scandia), ‘Blåkulla and its Antecedents: Transvection and Conventicles in Nordic Witchcraft’ (Alvíssmál), ‘Anaphrodisiac Charms in the Nordic Middle Ages: Impotence, Infertility, and Magic’ (Norveg), ‘Folklore and Philology Revisited: Medieval Scandinavian Folklore?’ (Norden og Europa), and ‘Gender and Nordic Witchcraft in the Later Middle Ages’ (Arv).
Enrique Perdiguero is Senior Lecturer of History of Science at Miguel Hernández University, Alicante, Spain. His main research interests are the interplay between popular and academic medicine and the development of public health services. Recent publications in English include: J. Bernabeu, R. Huertas, E. Rodríguez and E. Perdiguero, ‘History of health, a valuable tool in public health’, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (2001); J. Bernabeu and E. Perdiguero, ‘At the Service of Spain and Spanish Children: Mother and Child Healthcare in Spain During the First Two Decades of Franco’s Regime (1939–1963)’, in I. Löwy and J. Krige (eds), Images of Disease: Science, Public Policy and Health in Post-war Europe (2001).
Éva Pócs has published widely on South-Eastern and Central European beliefs concerning fairies, magic and witchcraft from the medieval to the modern period. Her most recent major English-language publication is Between the Living and the Dead: A Perspective on Witches and Seers in the Early Modern Age (1999). She is also the editor of Demons, Spirits, Witches: Church Demonology and Popular Mythology (Budapest, forthcoming).
Laura Stark is a researcher at the Academy of Finland and a docent in the Department of Folklore Studies at the University of Helsinki. Her recent publications include Magic, Body and Social Order: The Construction of Gender Through Women’s Private Rituals in Traditional Finland (1998), and Peasants, Pilgrims and Sacred Promises: Ritual and the Supernatural in Orthodox Karelian Folk Religion (2002). Two current research topics include concepts of body as self represented in the magic beliefs and practices of nineteenth-century agrarian Finland, and how modernization was experienced by the Finnish rural populace between 1860 and 1960.