Working Group 2: Sites and Fields of Coercion

WG Leader: Christian De Vito (Bonn, Germany)

WG Co-Leaders: Amal Shahid (Geneva, Switzerland), Nicola Pizzolato (London, United Kingdom)


The working group “Sites and Fields of Coercion” explores the complexity of coercive mechanisms in specific contexts in order to analyse the fine points of coercion (or the choice not to exercise it) and the experience of compulsion or autonomy.

Studying multiple labour relations at specific sites of coercion – such as the plantation, mine, building site, artisanal workshop, cantonment or factory – enables a fine-grained analysis of the mechanisms and experiences of domination and dependence. Indeed, tracing small changes in the heterogeneous composition of labour relations at the level of sites of coercion creates much more nuanced understandings of the way larger processes influenced the lives of workers.

At the same time, the concept of fields of coercion makes it possible to view how individual sites of coercion were connected – for example, how various sites were part of a single commodity chain, how they were imbricated in the productive activities of a single company, or how they were located along the migration route of an individual or a group. Diachronic connections among sites can similarly be viewed as forming fields of coercion, for example in analyses that focus on the transformation of one or more work sites over several decades or