The Mann Act, ‘White Slave Trade,’ and Cultural Construction of Race Through Criminal Codes

Often the work of cultural -- or other kinds of -- analysis involves juxtaposing different phenomena or discourses that haven’t been compared in that way before. Sometimes just placing two things together will help illuminate something new about one or the other. This is because analysis relies on perspective, and perspective is impacted by context: … Continue reading The Mann Act, ‘White Slave Trade,’ and Cultural Construction of Race Through Criminal Codes

Criminalizing Race and Sex With Conspiracy Theories: Turn of the Century New York City and the so-called White Slave Trade

I’ve written about the importance of analyzing recent popular and fringe rhetoric about sex trafficking from a longer historical perspective, as well as from a cultural studies perspective, elsewhere. I’ve been contending here and elsewhere that the current cultural attention to organized sex trafficking,* along with the more absurd theories about Hillary Clinton’s “Pizzagate” ring, … Continue reading Criminalizing Race and Sex With Conspiracy Theories: Turn of the Century New York City and the so-called White Slave Trade

American Neo-Noir and the Postcolonial Unconscious

I’m taking a turn down some adjacent Crime Fiction “noir” paths right now. I’ve been watching some “neo noir” American films, and reading some cultural theory around the noir genre. Last month, I watched a 1981 film that can be considered part of the American neo-noir trend of that period: Sharky’s Machine, directed by and … Continue reading American Neo-Noir and the Postcolonial Unconscious

The ‘gateway body’ and crime narratives: trafficking in white feminism

When reading Tanya Horeck’s Justice on Demand earlier this year, a reference to something called “the gateway body” caught my interest. Horeck’s book, which I reviewed here, is a media-studies look at true crime in the current post-tv, serialized and digitally-networked era. One chapter in that book focuses on the way popular true crime series, … Continue reading The ‘gateway body’ and crime narratives: trafficking in white feminism

How important is DNA collection after all? A look at Sameena Mulla’s ‘Violence of Care’

Earlier this month I posted a reading list that I’ve been working on, which included Sameena Mulla’s The Violence of Care. I want to focus on one particular chapter from that book that really resonated with some other things I’ve been reading and re-watching, namely the Netflix mini-series Unbelievable and the nonfiction reporting the series … Continue reading How important is DNA collection after all? A look at Sameena Mulla’s ‘Violence of Care’

Why is the spy trade so white and male? (and RIP John Le Carre)

Why is the spy genre -- in nonfiction history and journalism as well as in fiction -- so male and so white? I found myself wondering this recently while reading Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage (2010, Harper Collins), by Eamon Javers. It’s a good book: generally well researched and well … Continue reading Why is the spy trade so white and male? (and RIP John Le Carre)

Netflix’s “The Ripper” and Joan Smith’s ‘Gender-Critical’ Influence

When I set out to write about the new "Yorkshire Ripper" documentary series, I didn't expect to end up writing about TERFs. And yet, here we are. Netflix released The Ripper at the end of 2020, a limited true crime docu-series about the so-called “Yorkshire Ripper” who terrorized the West Yorkshire community, committing at least … Continue reading Netflix’s “The Ripper” and Joan Smith’s ‘Gender-Critical’ Influence

Gifting Tables, White Feminism, and the Gender of Criminality in ‘Murder on Middle Beach’

HBO’s Murder on Middle Beach, a four-part mini docu-series about the unsolved murder of Barbara Beach Hamburg in Madison, Connecticut in 2010, has been critically acclaimed by many media and true crime watchers since it aired at the end of 2020. What has caught viewers’ and critics’ attention is the relationship of the filmmaker to … Continue reading Gifting Tables, White Feminism, and the Gender of Criminality in ‘Murder on Middle Beach’

Sexuality, Suspicion, and The Staircase

I want to talk about The Staircase. And I want to talk about one specific yet crucial aspect of the documentary and the case: sexuality and suspicion. In December of 2001, Michael Peterson made a 911 call from his home in Forest Hills, North Carolina. His wife was not conscious but breathing, he told the … Continue reading Sexuality, Suspicion, and The Staircase

The Valhalla Murders, My Favorite Murder Podcast, and Paranoid/Reparative Engagement with True Crime and Crime Fiction

I recently watched the Icelandic police procedural series, The Valhalla Murders (2019, 2020). It is loosely based on a national scandal from the 1940s about a state institution for troubled boys who, after being put in state care, suffered abuse at the hands of staff, according to this MEAWW article. The Nordic Noir series re-imagines … Continue reading The Valhalla Murders, My Favorite Murder Podcast, and Paranoid/Reparative Engagement with True Crime and Crime Fiction