Wednesday, 03 August 2016 10:40

A Peoples' History of Crime and Punishment

A new course at MML which aims to provide the historical background to the criminal law, particularly that of England and Wales, from a critical and Marxist point of view. It is hoped that some of the reasons behind some apparently irrational aspects of the law and its implementation will be made clearer, through tracing their origins.

The classes and their sequence have been designed on the assumption and hope that those who come will attend all, or at least most, of the classes.  This will allow a minimum of tedious repetition and rehearsal of material previously covered.

Some prior reading, before each class, after the first, will be suggested, in order to enable as many as possible to take an active part in discussion.  I shall try to suggest short, accessible pieces and, where possible, will try to make them available via the website, or as hard copies for those without access to electronic sources, at the preceding class.

The five classes are as follows

1. 13th September : Marx on ‘Crime’; ‘Theory’ Vs ‘Common Sense’; Where the Law comes from; Race; Class; Gender; and Machinery of Law Enforcement; Choosing and Making ‘Examples’ to deter offenders.  The criminal law before the 18th Century.
Suggested reading:
There is no preparatory reading for this session. But Albion’s Fatal Tree, (1975), Ed: Douglas Hay et al, would be a good general background to the course.  Ch. 1, by Doug Hay, would be especially useful.

2. 20th September: Class and Criminal Law: 'Patronage Chains'; Prosecution Practice; Labelling and Character; 'Negotiation by Riot', Food, Turnpike, Industrial and Political Riots; The Changing Role of Men and Women in Riots. Suggested Reading: Simon Renton 'The Moral Economy of the English Middling Sort in the Eighteenth Century: The Case of Norwich in 1766 and 1767', in Markets, Market Culture and Popular Protest in Eighteenth Century Britain and Ireland, Edited by Adrian Randall

3. 27th September: ‘Perks’ into ’Theft’, the Invention of ‘Crime’; the Rise of ‘Absolute Property’; the Criminalisation of Customary Taking in Manufacture and in the Countryside.
Suggested reading: 
1) Peter Linebaugh, The London Hanged: (2003) Chapter 11
2) Karl Marx: on the Theft of Wood;
Marxist .org/archive/marx/works/download/marx_Rheinishe_Zeitung.pdf  pp 48-81.

4. 4th October: The Bourgeois Demand for Order and the Rise of the New Police; The Irish Context of the Met Police; Class and Opposition to the New Police; ‘Moral Panic’ and the Making of an ’Under-Class’
Suggested reading:
Ruth Paley, ‘ ”An imperfect, inadequate and wretched system?”: policing London before Peel’, Criminal Justice History (1989). 

5. 11th October: Capital Punishment; the Image of the State; the Justification of Punishment; the Decline of Transportation and the Rise of the Prison.  Reform and Retribution, Detection and Deterrence. 
Suggested reading:
Harry Potter, Hanging in Judgment: Religion and the Death Penalty in England, (1993).

TUESDAYS EVENINGS FROM September 13th, 2016 7:00 PM

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