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Chapter 6 - Punishing the Body

Harm and the Coercive Nature of Credit

from Part III - The Debtor’s Body

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 September 2019

Tawny Paul
Affiliation:
University of California, Los Angeles
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Summary

The final section of the book turns to the debtor’s body. Experiences of insecurity were profoundly physical, borne out through the threat of confinement and the loss of liberty. Read through the lens of the prison, the life cycle of debt, from contracting credit, to insecurity, to default, was an embodied experience, and the ways in which debtors’ bodies were treated have important implications for the characterisation of economic culture during Britain’s transition to capitalism. Chapter 6 describes the body as a site for negotiated relations of power and obligation. By uncovering how creditors inflicted different forms of harm on debtors, from the denial of liberty to violent physical assault, it reveals the coercive nature of credit. Failure to abide by the rules of credit was dealt with by incarceration and physical punishment. In an era normally characterised by politeness and the decline of violence, the treatment of debtors instead reveals an economy tinged with aggression and even violence.

Type
Chapter
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The Poverty of Disaster
Debt and Insecurity in Eighteenth-Century Britain
, pp. 191 - 213
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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  • Punishing the Body
  • Tawny Paul, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Book: The Poverty of Disaster
  • Online publication: 27 September 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108690546.007
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  • Punishing the Body
  • Tawny Paul, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Book: The Poverty of Disaster
  • Online publication: 27 September 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108690546.007
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Punishing the Body
  • Tawny Paul, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Book: The Poverty of Disaster
  • Online publication: 27 September 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108690546.007
Available formats
×