Defiled Trades and Social Outcasts: Honor and Ritual Pollution in Early Modern Germany

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Cambridge University Press, Nov 2, 2006 - History - 300 pages
This book presents a social and cultural history of 'dishonourable people' (unehrliche Leute), an outcast group in early modern Germany. Executioners, skinners, grave-diggers, shepherds, barber-surgeons, millers, linen-weavers, sow-gelders, latrine-cleaners, and bailiffs were among the 'dishonourable' by virtue of their trades. This dishonour was either hereditary, often through several generations, or it arose from ritual pollution whereby honourable citizens could become dishonourable by coming into casual contact with members of the outcast group. The dishonourable milieu of the city of Augsburg from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries is reconstructed to show the extent to which dishonour determined the life-chances and self-identity of dishonourable people. The book then investigates how honourable estates interacted with dishonourable people, and how the pollution anxieties of early modern Germans structured social and political relations within honourable society.

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User Review  - hsifeng - LibraryThing

REENACTMENT VIEW: 16th thru 18th C 286 pages: Covers the range of 'dirty trades' in Germany during the Early Modern period. Suprises abound - such as the fact that there were two sets of city police ... Read full review


Medieval versus early modern dishonor
Honor status and pollution
The status of executioners and skinners 15001700
Living on the periphery of dishonor
The infamous fur coat or the unintended consequences of social discipline
The executioners healing touch health and honor in early modern German medical practice
Guardians of honor artisans versus magistrates
Honor and dishonor in the eighteenth century
dishonor and the society of orders
Selected bibliography

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Page 16 - What is common in community is not shared values or common understanding so much as the fact that members of a community are engaged in the same argument, the same raisonnement, the same Rede, the same discourse, in which alternative strategies, misunderstandings, conflicting goals and values are threshed out.

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