The delinquent´s body: representations of crime and its control in the Nicaraguan national media
Julienne Weegels (University of Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
The current paper is interested in the meanings crime and crime control acquire in the context of their mediated representation in Nicaragua. How are crime and its control represented through the criminal's body, and how does police protagonism reflect on these representations?
Paper long abstract:
Images of a young street delinquent persecuted afoot by sticks and belts in the hands of angry neighbors - behind them the police - splash across the evening news. Before the crowd can pound upon the youngster the police manage to wedge him away and throw him into the back of a police truck. This is just one of many scenes of violence, death, apprehension, and police perseverance an average Nicaraguan is exposed to daily through the televised news. The current paper is interested in the meanings crime and crime control acquire in the context of their mediated representation. How does police protagonism in the media reflect on the social imagery of delinquents and prisoners? How are crime and its control represented literally through the criminal´s body? This paper attempts to answer those questions by integrating the study of the televised media´s representations of crime with extensive ethnographic research conducted among long-sentenced prisoners. Cultural criminologists note that "crime and the agencies and institutions of crime control [can be viewed] as cultural enterprises […] as richly symbolic endeavours created out of on-going human interaction and power relations [that] must be read in terms of the contested meanings they carry" (Hayward and Presdee, 2010: 3). It is on this premise that the delinquent´s body can be read as a symbolic and social site of contested representation of crime and crime control, and analyzed in terms of the cultural meanings it acquires through its mediated representation.
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