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Structures of violence: punishment in Africa from the colonial era to the present 
April Jackson (University of Leicester)
Stacey Hynd (University of Exeter)
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Stacey Hynd (University of Exeter)
April Jackson (University of Leicester)
History (x) Violence and Conflict Resolution (y)
Philosophikum, S82
Wednesday 31 May, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

This panel focuses on the violence of punishment in colonial Africa. Focus is placed on the power relations between imperial powers and colonised bodies that occurred during the act of punishment. The panel also explores the legacies of coloniality in post-colonial and modern African institutions.

Long Abstract:

European powers adopted a variety of approaches to punishment in African colonies. Executions, prison encampments, forced removals, incarceration, penal labour, floggings, and even amputations, are consistently found in accounts of colonial rule. This panel explores the relationship between extreme, quotidian, and structural forms of violence that were used to control African populations.

It is this panels assertion that current debates on judicial and extra-judicial violence, crime control, and penal policy in Africa can benefit from historical insights. For instance, the Covid-19 pandemic increased awareness of prison conditions, including overcrowding, poor sanitation, and restrictions on medical treatment, but many of these conditions are rooted in the colonial past. This panel also seeks to explore responses to penal violence, from prisoners' resistance to penal reform efforts and NGO action.

By tracing the violence of punishment through time, this panel engages with a number of critical questions. How did punishment in African colonies change over time? How did African people respond to, and challenge, violent punishments? What continuities exist between the penal regimes of Africa's past and present? What lessons can be learned when we examine the violence of the past? How can Africa's penal systems be truly decolonised?

The panel encourages papers from across the disciplines, thus allowing us to uncover connections between the use of violence in colonial, post-colonial and modern-day penal regimes.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Wednesday 31 May, 2023, -
Session 2 Wednesday 31 May, 2023, -