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Punishment, Labour, Dependency

Within the Bonn Centre for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS), the Research Group “Punishment, Labour, Dependency“ addresses the ways in which the entanglements of punitive and labour regimes impact the production and reproduction of dependency. Moreover, we aim to analyse the practices and discourses of different historical (elite and non-elite) actors that have constructed and contested the legitimation of punishment and labour regimes. In archaeology and state theory, pre-modern societies such as pharaonic Egypt had no exclusive claim by the central regime towards the different uses of organised violence and coercion and for how and by whom violence can be used. Bruce Routledge defined power as a quality of networks linking human and non-human actors as mediators or intermediators in a chain of interactions. Therefore, it is necessary to define, analyse, and evaluate what physical means pharaonic rulers and their subordinates utilised to maintain social order since it is unlikely that the threat and enforcement of coercive punishment by the ‘state’ was greater than the value of coordination and reward to the individual and local kinship groups. My project will analyse the balance between the role of deliberate displays of institutional violence and how various forms of punishment acted as modes of social organisation in Pharaonic Egypt, in which state hierarchy in one context, is to be examined in relation to the degree of penetration of state power into hierarchical forms of behavior at local level, and then how this overlaps with the role of patron; client obligation, of service and handing over of production in return for physical, social, and economic protection, etc.



 Flogging of peasants

Tomb of Menna: New Kingdom scribe overseeing the flogging of peasants