Trial by ordeal: an interdisciplinary approach yields fresh insights. / Bell, Lindsey.

2016. Paper presented at SLSA Annual Conference 2016, Lancaster, United Kingdom.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Published

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Trial by ordeal: an interdisciplinary approach yields fresh insights. / Bell, Lindsey.

2016. Paper presented at SLSA Annual Conference 2016, Lancaster, United Kingdom.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Harvard

Bell, L 2016, 'Trial by ordeal: an interdisciplinary approach yields fresh insights', Paper presented at SLSA Annual Conference 2016, Lancaster, United Kingdom, 5/04/16 - 7/04/16.

APA

Bell, L. (2016). Trial by ordeal: an interdisciplinary approach yields fresh insights. Paper presented at SLSA Annual Conference 2016, Lancaster, United Kingdom.

Vancouver

Bell L. Trial by ordeal: an interdisciplinary approach yields fresh insights. 2016. Paper presented at SLSA Annual Conference 2016, Lancaster, United Kingdom.

Author

Bell, Lindsey. / Trial by ordeal: an interdisciplinary approach yields fresh insights. Paper presented at SLSA Annual Conference 2016, Lancaster, United Kingdom.

BibTeX

@conference{a9e2e7d0c2bc4a34a38efeef77ae803f,
title = "Trial by ordeal: an interdisciplinary approach yields fresh insights",
abstract = "At its simplest, trial by ordeal is a physical test for an accused person which invokes supernatural or magico-religious forces where there is a question as to guilt or innocence. Desperately cruel and apparently irrational, its use as a means of decision-making transcends national borders and historical periods. Adopting a novel, interdisciplinary, approach in drawing on historical and anthropological materials from the ancient Near East to medieval Europe and twentieth century Africa, this paper examines the practice of trial by ordeal to offer fresh insights into how this apparently irrational mode of proof worked.Those tried by ordeal were often – but not always – people on the margins of society. Ordeal was sometimes and someplaces a formal instrument of law, in other times and places a customary form of decision-making operating outside the legal machinery of state. Ordeal was often used as a mode of proof in relation to allegations of witchcraft or sorcery. This is paper explores these grey areas to analyse why this may be more comprehensible in, say, medieval Europe where sorcery would have been in direct contravention of Christian norms; in the African material the boundary between legitimate and illegitimate use of magic is more difficult to discern as magic was often a generally accepted part of life with a multiplicity of uses. The paper concludes by exploring accounts of trial by ordeal to consider the border between human influence and the apparent supernatural involvement in the ordeal, arguing that the apparent appeal to the supernatural to make a decision was not always entirely as it seems. ",
author = "Lindsey Bell",
year = "2016",
language = "English",
note = "SLSA Annual Conference 2016 ; Conference date: 05-04-2016 Through 07-04-2016",

}

RIS

TY - CONF

T1 - Trial by ordeal: an interdisciplinary approach yields fresh insights

AU - Bell, Lindsey

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - At its simplest, trial by ordeal is a physical test for an accused person which invokes supernatural or magico-religious forces where there is a question as to guilt or innocence. Desperately cruel and apparently irrational, its use as a means of decision-making transcends national borders and historical periods. Adopting a novel, interdisciplinary, approach in drawing on historical and anthropological materials from the ancient Near East to medieval Europe and twentieth century Africa, this paper examines the practice of trial by ordeal to offer fresh insights into how this apparently irrational mode of proof worked.Those tried by ordeal were often – but not always – people on the margins of society. Ordeal was sometimes and someplaces a formal instrument of law, in other times and places a customary form of decision-making operating outside the legal machinery of state. Ordeal was often used as a mode of proof in relation to allegations of witchcraft or sorcery. This is paper explores these grey areas to analyse why this may be more comprehensible in, say, medieval Europe where sorcery would have been in direct contravention of Christian norms; in the African material the boundary between legitimate and illegitimate use of magic is more difficult to discern as magic was often a generally accepted part of life with a multiplicity of uses. The paper concludes by exploring accounts of trial by ordeal to consider the border between human influence and the apparent supernatural involvement in the ordeal, arguing that the apparent appeal to the supernatural to make a decision was not always entirely as it seems.

AB - At its simplest, trial by ordeal is a physical test for an accused person which invokes supernatural or magico-religious forces where there is a question as to guilt or innocence. Desperately cruel and apparently irrational, its use as a means of decision-making transcends national borders and historical periods. Adopting a novel, interdisciplinary, approach in drawing on historical and anthropological materials from the ancient Near East to medieval Europe and twentieth century Africa, this paper examines the practice of trial by ordeal to offer fresh insights into how this apparently irrational mode of proof worked.Those tried by ordeal were often – but not always – people on the margins of society. Ordeal was sometimes and someplaces a formal instrument of law, in other times and places a customary form of decision-making operating outside the legal machinery of state. Ordeal was often used as a mode of proof in relation to allegations of witchcraft or sorcery. This is paper explores these grey areas to analyse why this may be more comprehensible in, say, medieval Europe where sorcery would have been in direct contravention of Christian norms; in the African material the boundary between legitimate and illegitimate use of magic is more difficult to discern as magic was often a generally accepted part of life with a multiplicity of uses. The paper concludes by exploring accounts of trial by ordeal to consider the border between human influence and the apparent supernatural involvement in the ordeal, arguing that the apparent appeal to the supernatural to make a decision was not always entirely as it seems.

M3 - Paper

T2 - SLSA Annual Conference 2016

Y2 - 5 April 2016 through 7 April 2016

ER -