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Part VII - Representations and Constructions of Violence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2020

Robert Antony
Guangzhou University
Stuart Carroll
University of York
Caroline Dodds Pennock
University of Sheffield
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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Bibliographic Essay

Primary sources for historians of violence include lexical material via historical linguistics; see for example Vansina, Jan’s Paths in the Rainforests: Toward a History of Political Tradition in Equatorial Africa (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990) and How Societies Are Born: Governance in West Central Africa before 1600 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2004). The earliest European written descriptions of ritual violence in Africa come from traveller, military and missionary accounts. The densest descriptions from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries relate to the Angola region following the Kongo’s conversion to Christianity. Most have yet to be translated, but see, for an English exemplar, Battell, Andrew, The Strange Adventures of Andrew Battell of Leigh, in Angola and the Adjoining Regions (1625) (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010). For the Timbuktu chronicles see Hunwick, John O., Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire: Al-Sadi’s Tarikh al-sudan down to 1613 and other Contemporary Documents (Leiden: Brill, 1999).

The best secondary resource for pre-colonial African military history is Thornton, John K., Warfare in Atlantic Africa, 1500–1800 (London: University College London Press, 1999). For accounts of military history focused on specific areas of pre-colonial western Africa, not mentioned in the footnotes, see Ade Ajayi, J. F. and Smith, Robert S., Yoruba Warfare in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964); Akinjogbin, I. A., War and Peace in Yorubaland, 1793–1893 (Ibadan: Heinemann, 1998); Alpern, Stanley B., Amazons of Black Sparta: The Women Warriors of Dahomey (New York: New York University Press, 1998); Falola, Toyin and Oguntomisin, Dare, The Military in Nineteenth Century Yoruba Politics (Ile-Ife, Nigeria: University of Ife Press, 1984); Smith, Robert S., Warfare and Diplomacy in Pre-Colonial West Africa (London: Methuen, 1976); and Joseph, P. Smaldone, Warfare in the Sokoto Caliphate: Historical and Sociological Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976).

For academic studies of pre-nineteenth-century African martial-arts and combat-sports-related violence see Baker, William J. and Mangan, J. A., Sport in Africa: Essays in Social History (New York: Africana Publishing, 1987); Obi, T. J. Desch, Fighting for Honor: The History of African Martial Art Traditions in the Atlantic World (Colombia: University of South Carolina Press, 2008); Nguema Akwe, Olivier P., Sorcellerie et arts martiaux en Afrique: anthropologie des sports de combat (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2011); and Powe, Edward, Combat Games of Northern Nigeria (Madison, WI: Dan Aiki Publications, 1994). For the slavery-era African diaspora see Paz, Manuel Barcia, West African Warfare in Bahia and Cuba: Soldier Slaves in the Atlantic World, 1807–1844 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014); Bilby, Kenneth M., True-Born Maroons (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2005); Daniel Dawson, C., Dancing Between Two Worlds: Kongo-Angola Culture and the Americas (New York: Caribbean Cultural Center, 1991); Campell, Mavis, The Maroons of Jamaica 1655–1796 (Granby, MA: Bergin & Garvey, 1988); Holloway, Thomas H., Policing Rio De Janeiro: Repression and Resistance in a 19th-Century City (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1993); and Price, Richard, Alabi’s World (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990).

Bibliographic Essay

There is an abundant bibliography on the conquests of Mexico and Peru. In the first case, of particular interest are the stories written at the time of the conquest itself by Spanish soldiers, such as captain Cortés, Hernán’s Letters from Mexico, ed. Pagden, Anthony (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001) and del Castillo, Bernal Díaz’s True History of the Conquest of New Spain, trans. and ed. Burke, Janet and Humphrey, Ted (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2015). Also important are the chronicles written by indigenous authors, such as the Aztec version of the conquest compiled by Bernardino de Sahagún in his Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva España, also known as the Florentine Codex. The best recent edition of these and other Aztec chronicles is Lockhart, James (ed.), We People Here: Nahuatl Accounts of the Conquest of Mexico (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993). Also important is the Tlaxcalan history written by Camargo, Diego Muñoz, Historia de Tlaxcala (Mexico City: CIESAS-Gobierno de Tlaxcala-Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala, 1998).

We have far fewer contemporary chronicles for the Andes, although a notable exception is the history written by a native author of the early seventeenth century, de Ayala’s, Guamán Poma The First New Chronicle and Good Government: On the History of the World and the Incas up to 1615, trans. and ed. Hamilton, Roland (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009).

The best recent histories of the conquest of Mexico and Peru are Thomas, Hugh, The Conquest of Mexico (London: Simon & Schuster, 1993) and Hemming, John, The Conquest of the Incas (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970). A valuable survey of the importance of indigenous allies in the conquest of Mexico is found in Matthew, Laura and Oudijk, Michel R (eds.), Indian Conquistadors. Indigenous Allies in the Conquest of Mesoamerica (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007); see also Restall, Matthew, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).

Regarding interpretations of the cultural transformations experienced by native societies after the Spanish conquest, the most prevalent school has been that of acculturation, which argues that Western culture was dominant and gradually replaced native cultural elements. This position has been most forcefully defended in recent times by Gruzinsk, Sergei in his The Conquest of Mexico: The Incorporation of Indian Societies into the Western World, 16th–18th Centuries (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993) and Images at War: Mexico from Columbus to Blade Runner (1492–2019) (Durham, NJ: Duke University Press, 2001). The main proponents of the idea of a ‘culture of conquest’, which included both Spaniards and Indians in a shared framework of reference, are Foster, G. M., Culture and Conquest: America’s Spanish Heritage (New York: Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, 1960) and Warman, Arturo, La danza de Moros y Cristianos (Mexico City: Sep Setentas, 1972).

The idea of intercultural emblems of the conquest is developed by Federico Linares, Navarrete in ‘Beheadings and Massacres: Andean and Mesoamerican representations of the Spanish Conquest’, Res: Aesthetics and Anthropology 53.4 (2008), 5978.

The work of Taussig, Michael on images as means of intercultural mediation is relevant for understanding the workings of colonial iconography, particularly his Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987) and Mimesis and Alterity. A Particular History of the Senses (New York: Routledge, 1993).

Recent studies of the medieval iconography of Santiago include Herwaarden, Jan Van, Between Saint James and Erasmus: Studies in Late-Medieval Religious Life: Devotion and Pilgrimage in the Netherlands (Lieden: Brill, 2003) and Cabrillana, Nicolás, Santiago Matamoros, historia e imagen (Malaga: Diputación Provincial de Málaga, 1999). Regarding the reception of Santiago in Mexico, see Cardaillac, Louis, Santiago Apostol: El Santo De Los Dos Mundos (Zapopan, Mexico: El Colegio de Jalisco, 2002). In the Andes, see Gisbert, Teresa, Iconografía y mitos indígenas en el arte (La Paz: Gisbert, 1980). A recent analysis of the dances of Santiago is found in Harris, Max, Aztecs, Moors and Christians: Festivals of Reconquest in Mexico and Spain (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000).

The iconography of the conquest of Mexico-Tenochtitlán has been analysed by Magaloni-Kerpel, Diana, ‘Painting a New Era: Conquest, Prophecy, and the World to Come’, in Brienen, Rebecca P. and Jackson, Margaret A. (eds.), Invasion and Transformation: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Conquest of Mexico (Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2008). See also Málaga, Maite, Cuerpos que se encuentran y hablan. El proceso de conquista y sus relaciones de poder vistos a través del cuerpo (Mexico City: Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2002).

Regarding Tlaxcala, see Navarrete, Federico Linares, , ‘La Malinche, la Virgen y la montaña: el juego de la identidad en los códices tlaxcaltecas, Revista História (UNESP) 26.2 (2008), 288310. On the history of colonial Tlaxcala, see Gibson, Charles, Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1968).

The most comprehensive analysis of the colonial iconography of the Incas is found in Majluf, Natalia et al., Los incas, reyes del Perú (Lima: Banco de Crédito, 2005); see also Dean, Carolyn, ‘The Renewal of Old World Images and the Creation of Colonial Peruvian Visual Culture’, in Fane, D. (ed.), Converging Cultures: Art and Identity in Spanish America (New York: Abrams, 1996).

One of the best surveys of the contradictions in Andean native societies in colonial times and beyond is the articles compiled in Stern, Steve J (ed.), Resistance, Rebellion and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World, 18th to 20th Centuries (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987).

Regarding the narrative of the return of the Inca, the key works are Ossio, Juan M. (ed.), Ideología mesiánica del mundo andino (Lima: n.p., 1973) and Flores Galindo, Alberto, In Search of an Inca: Identity and Utopia in the Andes (New York : Cambridge University Press, 2010). A recent critique of this interpretation was formulated by Estenssoro, Juan Carlos in Del paganismo a la santidad: la incorporación de los indios del Perú al catolicismo, 1532–1750 (Lima: Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos-Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2003).

Bibliographic Essay

Although there are no scholarly studies dealing specifically with public spectacles of violence in early modern China, nonetheless there is an enormous amount of primary and secondary sources, mostly in Chinese, scattered in newspapers, journals and books. One insightful study and a good place to start is Haar, B. J. ter, ‘Rethinking “Violence” in Chinese Culture’, in Aijmer, Goran and Jon, Abbink (eds.), Meanings of Violence: A Cross Cultural Perspective (Oxford: Berg), pp. 123–40.

A topic that has received very little attention is the annual rock fights that were apparently common not only in south China but also in some areas of northern China, Korea and Japan up until the 1940s. There is a brief mention of Taiwan’s rock fights in DeGlopper, Donald, Lukang: Commerce and Community in a Chinese City (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), but little else is available in the literature in any language. Cockfights are dealt with in a literary study by Joe Cutter, Robert, The Brush and the Spur: Chinese Culture and the Cockfight (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1989), as well as in the seminal 1972 study by Geertz, Clifford, ‘Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight’, in his Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (New York: Basic Books, 1973), pp. 412–53.

There is a vast literature that covers bloody rituals, exorcisms and self-mortifications in traditional China. The best place to start is de Groot, Jan J. M.’s six-volume study, The Religious System of China (Leiden: Brill, 1910), particularly volumes v and vi. More recent are two studies by Boretz, Avron: ‘Martial Gods and Magic Swords: Identity, Myth, and Violence in Chinese Popular Religion’, Journal of Popular Culture 29.1 (1995), 93109, and Gods, Ghosts, and Gangsters: Ritual Violence, Martial Arts, and Masculinity on the Margins of Chinese Society (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2011). Another useful study is Sutton, Donald, ‘Rituals of Self-Mortification: Taiwanese Spirit-Mediums in Comparative Perspective’, Journal of Ritual Studies 4.1 (1990), 99125. Also see the insightful study by Jimmy, Yu, Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500–1700 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), which examines rituals of blood writing, filial body-slicing, female chastity mutilation and suicide, and self-immolation in Buddhist and Daoist practices.

On judicial violence see Ho, Virgil, ‘Butchering Fish and Executing Criminals: Public Executions and the Meanings of Violence in Late Imperial and Modern China’, in Aijmer, Goran and Abbink, Jon (eds.), Meanings of Violence: A Cross Cultural Perspective (Oxford: Berg, 2000), pp. 141–60; Katz, Paul, Divine Justice: Religion and the Development of Chinese Legal Culture (London: Routledge, 2009), especially chapter 3, and his Fowl Play: Chicken-Beheading Rituals and Dispute Resolution in Taiwan’, in Jordan, David, Morris, Andrew and Moskowitz, Marc (eds.), The Minor Arts of Daily Life: Popular Culture in Taiwan (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2004), pp. 3549; Park, Nancy, ‘Unofficial Perspectives on Torture in Ming and Qing China’, Late Imperial China 37.1 (2016), 1754; Brook, Timothy, Bourgon, Jérôme and Blue, Gregory, Death by a Thousand Cuts (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008); and Antony, Robert, Unruly People: Crime, Community, and State in Late Imperial South China (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2016), especially chapter 12.

Bibliographic Essay

Visual sources for violence can be viewed on a growing number of institutional websites, such as the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rijksmuseum, or in image databases such the ARTstor Digital Library. Significant print collections include Geisberg, Max, The German Single-Leaf Woodcut, 1500–1550, 4 vols. (New York: Hacker, 1974); Strauss, Walter, The German Single-Leaf Woodcut, 1550–1600, 3 vols. (New York: Abaris, 1975); Alexander, Dorothy and Strauss, Walter, The German Single-Leaf Woodcut, 1600–1700, 2 vols. (New York: Abaris, 1977); Kunzle, David, The Early Comic Strip: Narrative Strips and Picture Stories in the European Broadsheet from c. 1450 to 1825 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973); Paas, John Roger, The German Political Broadsheet, 1600–17009 vols. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1985–2012); and Harms, Wolfgang and Schilling, Michael, Deutsche illustrierte Flugblätter des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts, 7 vols. (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 19972005).

The most serious studies of violence in visual representation are those exploring religious suffering, such as Merback, Mitchell, The Thief, the Cross and the Wheel: Pain and the Spectacle of Punishment in Medieval and Renaissance Europe (London: Reaktion, 2001), and Decker, John R. and Kirkland-Ives, Mitzi (eds.), Death, Torture and the Broken Body in European Art, 1300–1650 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015). On the related subject of martyrdom see Dillon, Anne, The Construction of Martyrdom in the English Catholic Community, 1535–1603 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2002); Puppi, Lionello, Torment in Art: Pain, Violence, and Martyrdom (New York: Rizzoli, 1991); and Aston, Margaret and Ingram, Elizabeth, ‘The Iconography of the Acts and Monuments’, in Loades, David (ed.), John Foxe and the English Reformation (Farnham: Ashgate, 1997), pp. 66142. On Reformation propaganda see Scribner, Robert W., For the Sake of Simple Folk: Popular Propaganda for the German Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981, rev. edn 1994); and on iconoclasm see Aston, Margaret, Broken Idols of the English Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), and Freedberg, David, Iconoclasm and Painting in the Revolt of the Netherlands, 1566–1609 (New York: Garland, 1988).

Images of war are the subject of many recent studies, although violence is seldom addressed directly or theorised. For overviews see Hale, J. R., Artists and Warfare in the Renaissance (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press,1990), Kunzle, David, From Criminal to Courtier: The Soldier in Netherlandish Art 1550–1672 (Leiden: Brill, 2002), which emphasises the social meaning of art; and the many essays in Bussman, Klaus and Schilling, Heinz (eds.), 1648: War and Peace in Europe, 2 vols. (Munich: Bruckmann, 1998). Silver, Larry, Marketing Maximilian: The Visual Ideology of a Holy Roman Emperor (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008) is critical of early sixteenth-century martial ideology, while other works with important insights include Cuneo, Pia (ed.), Artful Armies, Beautiful Battles: Art and Warfare in Early Modern Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2002); Clifton, James and Scattone, Leslie M., The Plains of Mars: European war prints, 1500–1825 (New Haven, CT and Houston, TX: Yale University Press and Houston Museum of Fine Arts, 2008); and the broad survey by Roeck, Bernd, ‘The Atrocities of War in Early Modern Art’, in Canning, Joseph, Lehmann, Hartmut and Winter, Jay (eds.), Power, Violence and Mass Death in Pre-Modern and Modern Times (Farnham: Ashgate, 2004), pp. 129–40.

Broadsheets and pamphlets contain much on social violence. Important overviews are Harms, Wolfgang and Schilling, Michael, Das illustrierte Flugblatt der frühen Neuzeit: Traditionen, Wirkungen, Kontexte (Stuttgart: Hirzel, 2008), and Pettegree, Andrew (ed.), Broadsheets: Single-Sheet Publishing in the First Age of Print (Leiden: Brill, 2017). A critical study of war violence is Benedict, Philip, Graphic History: The Wars, Massacres and Troubles of Tortorel and Perrissin (Geneva: Droz, 2007). For crime and its punishment in the new media see Wiltenburg, Joy, Crime and Culture in Early Modern Germany (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012); Härter, Karl, ‘Early Modern Revolts as Political Crimes in the Popular Media of Illustrated Broadsheets’, in Griese, Malte (ed.), From Mutual Observation to Propaganda War: Premodern Revolts in Their Transnational Representations (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2014), pp. 309–50; Härter, Karl, ‘Images of Dishonoured Rebels and Infamous Revolts: Political Crime, Shaming Punishments and Defamation in the Early Modern Pictorial Media’, in Behrmann, Carolin (ed.), Images of Shame: Infamy, Defamation and the Ethics of oeconomia (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016), pp. 83–5; and Zika, Charles, The Appearance of Witchcraft: Print and Visual Culture in Sixteenth-Century Europe (London: Routledge, 2007), pp. 179209, and ‘ Violence, Anger and Dishonour in Sixteenth-Century Broadsheets from the Collection of Johann Jakob Wick’, in Broomhall, Susan and Finn, Sarah (eds.), Violence and Emotions in Early Modern Europe (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 3758. For the impact of disasters see Spinks, Jennifer and Zika, Charles (eds.), Disaster, Death and the Emotions (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016); and for ‘Turkish cruelty’ see Harper, James G., The Turk and Islam in the Western Eye, 1450–1750: Visual Imagery Before Orientalism (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), and Smith, Charlotte Colding, Images of Islam, 1453–1600: Turks in Germany and Central Europe (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2014).

Bibliographic Essay

The importance of the word ‘civilisation’ was first highlighted by Lucien Febvre in 1930 and translated as “Civilisation”: Evolution of a Word and a Group of Ideas’, in Burke, P. (ed.), A New Kind of History: From the Writings of Febvre (London: Routledge, 1973). The changing meaning of the word is discussed in Brunner, O., Conze, W. and Koselleck, R. (eds.), Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe: historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland, 8 vols. (Stuttgart: Klett Cotta, 1972–97), especially the chapters by M. Riedel, ‘Gesellschaft, Gemeinschaft’, and Fisch, Jörg, ‘Zivilisation, Kultur’. The ‘civilising process’ is better served in English, although Nobert Elias’s two-volume The Civilizing Process did not appear in translation (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992) until half a century after its publication in German. In relation to his impact on the history of violence, there are two general surveys inspired by Elias’s fusion of Freud and Weber: Muchembled, R., A History of Violence (London: Polity Press, 2012) and Pinker, S., The Better Angels of Our Nature. Why Violence Has Declined (London: Allen Lane 2011). The homicide statistics supporting their case are found in Eisner, M., ‘Long-Term Trends in Violent Crime’, Crime and Justice: A Review of Research 30 (2003), 83142.

Critiques of the civilising thesis first appeared in German in the 1990s, but only Schwerhoff, Gerd, ‘Criminalized Violence and the Process of Civilisation: A Reappraisal’, Crime, Histoire, Sociétés 6 (2002), 103–26, has been translated. From an anglophone perspective, see Goody, J., The Theft of History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), ch. 6; Carroll, S., Blood and Violence in Early Modern France (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); and Roth, R., American Homicide (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009). An important reinterpretation of the causes of interpersonal violence is Gould, R., Collision of Wills: How Ambiguity about Social Rank Breeds Conflict (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003). The most important rethinking of the early modern state, which demonstrates how state actions contributed to high rates of interpersonal violence, is Beik, W., Absolutism and Society in Seventeenth-Century France: State Power and Provincial Aristocracy in Languedoc (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). The theoretical debate is summarised by S. Carroll in ‘Thinking with Violence’, History and Theory 56 (2017), 23–43.

There is a large literature on civility. Chartier, R. (ed.), A History of Private Life: Passions of the Renaissance (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985) contains important surveys by Chartier and Revel, which rely heavily on French examples. Bryson, A., From Courtesy to Civility: Changing Codes of Conduct in Early Modern England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), Bremmer, J. and Roodenburg, H. (eds.), A Cultural History of Gesture (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991) and Peltonnen, M., The Duel in Early Modern England: Civility, Politeness and Honour (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) add nuance and complicate the claim that etiquette is necessarily a civiliser. On politeness, see Langford, P., ‘The Uses of Eighteenth-Century Politeness’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 12 (2002), 311–31. Klein, L, Shaftesbury and the Culture of Politeness: Moral Discourse and Cultural Politics in Early Eighteenth-Century England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994) overestimates the originality of English thinking. There is no history, as yet, of the emergence of civil society, though Colas, D., Civil Society and Fanaticism (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997), Kaviraj, S. and Khilnani, S. (eds.), Civil Society: History and Possibilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) and Terpstra, N. and Eckstein, N. (eds.), Sociability and Its Discontents: Civil Society, Society Capital, and Their Alternatives in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Turnhout: Brepols, 2009) contain important insights.

The revolution in our understanding of the law can be traced, in its English variant, to the seminal collection by Bossy, John (ed.), Disputes and Settlements (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), which continues to inspire imitators: see for example Cummins, S and Kounine, L. (eds.), Cultures of Conflict Resolution in Early Modern Europe (London: Routledge, 2015).

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