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

Crime and Culture in the Much Bigger Picture: HBO’s ‘Exterminate All the Brutes’

I just read a review of a new docu-series on HBO, Exterminate All the Brutes, which seems fitting for the discussion of this blog. The series takes a long and broad look at the ways "whiteness" has been shaped and enforced around the globe and in the modern age. More explicitly, the four-part series is … Continue reading Crime and Culture in the Much Bigger Picture: HBO’s ‘Exterminate All the Brutes’

What I’m Reading: March Update

I did pretty well with getting through my handful of books I was trying to read earlier this month.  I think posting my reading list actually helped me get through reading more efficiently. So here is another mini reading list for books I'm working on: The Evidence of Things Unseen, by James Baldwin I've recently … Continue reading What I’m Reading: March Update

Nose-splitting, Buttocks-stabbing, Pregnant-belly-kicking, and Other “Ritual” Gendered Violence in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Pieter Speierenburg is a historian of criminology who describes his own work as being “at the crossroads of history, sociology, anthropology and criminology.” He has an affiliation with the Erasmus University of Rotterdam and has had visiting professorships at Carnegie Mellon and UC Berkeley. In 2008, he published a history of personal violence in Europe, … Continue reading Nose-splitting, Buttocks-stabbing, Pregnant-belly-kicking, and Other “Ritual” Gendered Violence in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Disclosure: Why am I writing about this topic?

Why am I writing about this topic? I recently completed a PhD in literary studies, and nearing the end of that long research and writing project, I came across what I have come to call “tropes of white womanhood” that were circulated within and between European and North American societies (my focus was mainly on … Continue reading Disclosure: Why am I writing about this topic?

Our relationship to True Crime is an enduring one

Our relationship to true crime is an enduring one. We know this for a fact because culture gets recorded in various media, and it is the work of some professionals to examine media from the past for what it tells us about us, our pasts, and -- importantly -- sometimes about our present.* I brought … Continue reading Our relationship to True Crime is an enduring one

What is “true crime”?

This blog is going to explore “true / crime / discourse” by getting at all of the words in that sequence. Like any cultural (humanities) investigation, the very terms are always under interrogation. We’ll* need to define “discourse” separately to better understand what we’re even engaging with, but let’s first lay out some basic frameworks … Continue reading What is “true crime”?