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ManhuntsA Philosophical History$
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Grégoire Chamayou

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151656

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151656.001.0001

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Hunting the Poor

Hunting the Poor

Chapter:
(p.78) Chapter 7 Hunting the Poor
Source:
Manhunts
Author(s):

Grégoire Chamayou

Steven Rendall

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691151656.003.0008

This chapter discusses the hunting of the poor. The founding act of modern policing can be traced back to the immense hunt for the poor, idle people, and vagabonds that was launched in Europe in the seventeenth century. The notion was that the way to get rid of poverty was to intern the poor. However, neither hunting the poor nor prohibiting begging made poverty disappear. And that probably did not matter, since the function of these measures lay elsewhere. As Michelet diagnosed it, “the court, the powerful, do not like to see these great troops of poor wretches wandering about, a living accusation of the administration.” Then as now, if poverty could not be eradicated, the poor had to be made invisible. Moving from the embarrassing visibility of itinerant mendicancy to the tranquil invisibility of poverty interned—that was the chief function of hunting the poor to confine them.

Keywords:   poor, poverty, policing, manhunting, manhunts, internment, begging

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