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Mutilation as Gendered Punishment: State Violence and Sexual Transgression in Medieval Europe

Mutilation as Gendered Punishment: State Violence and Sexual Transgression in Medieval Europe

Keynote lecture by Ruth Mazo Karras

Give at the Women’s History Association of Ireland Annual Conference, University College Dublin, on March 21, 2021

Excerpt: It probably won’t come as news to anyone that mutilation was used as a judicial punishment in various societies across the globe, and it can serve several different purposes. Sometimes it’s just a punishment short of death. Sometimes it’s retributive justice – an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, or the loss of the limb – with which a crime was committed such as chopping off a hand for theft, which can also be a symbolic inscription of the crime on the body. I want to talk today particularly about the use of mutilation as punishment for sexual offenses and particularly those involving same-sex activity in medieval Europe.

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Ruth Karras is a Professor Of History at Trinity College Dublin. Her research focuses on medieval women, gender and sexuality. Click here to visit Ruth’s university web page or follow her on Twitter @rmkarras

Top Image: Mercator map of Europe in 1595 – Wikimedia Commons

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