Cast Out — 2008

Vagrancy and Homelessness in Global and Historical Perspective

Edited by A. L. Beier and Paul Ocobock

“This impressive collection of essays on vagrancy, homelessness, and poverty has truly global historical dimensions. It covers seven centuries and five continents, has a superb introductory overview, and is comparative social history at its best. It deserves to have a wide readership.”

Robert Tignor — author of Worlds Together, Worlds Apart

“This book will serve as an index of the multivalent nature of current work in social history, literature, and postcolonial studies in vagrancy and homelessness. At the very least, the book provides an indispensible classroom textbook on poverty and vagrancy from a historical perspective.”

Enterprise & Society

Throughout history, those arrested for vagrancy have generally been poor men and women, often young, able-bodied, unemployed, and homeless. Most histories of vagrancy have focused on the European and American experiences. Cast Out: Vagrancy and Homelessness in Global and Historical Perspective is the first book to consider the shared global heritage of vagrancy laws, homelessness, and the historical processes they accompanied.

In this ambitious collection, vagrancy and homelessness are used to examine a vast array of phenomena, from the migration of labor to social and governmental responses to poverty through charity, welfare, and prosecution. The essays in Cast Out represent the best scholarship on these subjects and include discussions of the lives of the underclass, strategies for surviving and escaping poverty, the criminalization of poverty by the state, the rise of welfare and development programs, the relationship between imperial powers and colonized peoples, and the struggle to achieve independence after colonial rule. By juxtaposing these histories, the authors explore vagrancy as a common response to poverty, labor dislocation, and changing social norms, as well as how this strategy changed over time and adapted to regional peculiarities.

Part of a growing literature on world history, Cast Out offers fresh perspectives and new research in fields that have yet to fully investigate vagrancy and homelessness. This book by leading scholars in the field is for policy makers, as well as for courses on poverty, homelessness, and world history.

Contributors:
Richard B. Allen
David Arnold
A. L. Beier
Andrew Burton
Vincent DiGirolamo
Andrew A. Gentes
Robert Gordon
Frank Tobias Higbie
Thomas H. Holloway
Abby Margolis
Paul Ocobock
Aminda M. Smith
Linda Woodbridge


A. L. Beier is a professor of history at Illinois State University. He is author of Masterless Men: The Vagrancy problem in England, 1560-1640 and co-editor of London, 1500-1700: The Making of the Metropolis.


Paul Ocobock is a Ph.D. student in the history department at Princeton University. He has earned an M.Phil. degree at Oxford University in economic and social history and is currently finishing his dissertation, which focuses on employment and delinquency among African young men during Kenya’s colonial period.

Cover of 'Cast Out'

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