Monday, 30 September 2013

Research Symposium: Crime and Media in Historical and Contemporary Perspective

Date: Friday 15 November 2013
Time: 9.30-4.30

Location and Room Details: GEE 004
Clifton Campus
NG11 8NS

The symposium is a free event but if you plan to attend please email Simon Cross. Refreshments will be available but lunch is not provided. However, hot meals and sandwiches can be purchased on campus. Following the event speakers will continue discussions in a local hostelry and restaurant in the city centre about 15 minute walk to the train station. You will be welcome to join us for dinner before your onward journey but for restaurant booking purposes you must email Simon Cross no later than 1 November.

Bus details from Nottingham train station: Delegates can get the Number 4 Uni-Link Bus outside Nottingham station. The bust stop is on the main road just outside the train station and at the Starbucks on the corner. The bus stop is just a few doors down from Starbucks so find that and you are more or less at the bust stop – there are a few stops and you can’t really miss them. The bus is very regular around 8 minutes between each service and comes directly into the campus with a journey time of around 15 minutes. Link to bus timetables are here.

Arriving by car: delegates arriving by car and using ‘sat nav’ please note the postal code above. Enter through the south entrance gate and car park attendants will direct you.

Signs directing you to the symposium location will be posted from the George Eliot building reception. Please also consult the Clifton Campus map.


9.30-9.55 Welcome and registration.

10.00-11.15 Professor Yvonne Jewkes, Department of Criminology, University of Leicester.
Title: Punishment in black and white: penal ‘hell-holes’, popular media and mass incarceration.
In recent years, the prison has been analogously compared to transportation and slavery; the Jim Crow system; the urban ghetto; a new apartheid; and an embodiment ofstate power and security apparatuses in post 9/11 societies. In all these analyses imprisonment is explicitly linked to racially motivated processes of criminalization andsegregation. A further analogous framework by which prisons might be viewed and understood, and the focus of this article, is that of Hell. Drawing on images from Dante's Inferno, the cultural purchase of which remains undiminished seven hundred years after it was written, this article argues that the social exclusion and mass imprisonment of young, black men is related to broader historical and cultural practices of discrimination and to contemporary, mediated discourses of ‘othering’. Moreover, the article suggests that not only can the prison be understood through the lens of darkness and lightness, Heaven and Hell, but that such metaphors serve to justify and authorize the prison as hell-hole.

Dr Maggie Wykes, School of Law, University of Sheffield.
Title: What’s law gotta do with it? Comparing the failure to successfully prevent or prosecute sexual violence in England and South Africa.
With abysmal regularity the news in the UK and South Africa tells stories of sexual violence. In April 2013 there was a:

            Crime that shocked South Africa, 17-year-old Anene Booysen was brutally gang-raped. Her throat was slit; her fingers and legs shattered. The attackers had stuck a broken glass bottle inside her body and left her for dead on a construction site (The Daily Beast 10/02/2013).

While such extreme violence is relatively rare in South Africa it is a country where violence accompanies much crime and girls talk not of if they are raped but when. Whilst in the UK a 2013 review found institutions charged with the care of children implicated in sexual violence:
            A nursery worker who raped a toddler had a "special relationship" with her that Ofsted and a council were aware of but failed to stop (BBC news 27/08/2013).

This paper explores the role of law in relation to such sexual violence in England and South Africa to argue that rather than being part of the solution law is inevitably part of the problem. The background to this paper is a comparative and evaluative cross cultural project involving collaboration between the Centre for Criminological Research in the
School of Law, University of Sheffield, UK and the Gender, Health and Justice
Research Unit at the University of Cape Town South Africa and funded by the British Academy. Both cities and indeed both countries have on-going high levels of violence against women, both sexual and domestic, which have eluded significant efforts to contain and reduce them despite consistent efforts in the UK since the later 1970s.

South Africa and England share jurisdictional history but support criminal justice
systems in radically different cultures. By comparing and evaluating the law in relation to the crimes that typify sexual violence and the contexts in which it is occurring  it is hoped to illuminate inhibitors to change. These inhibitors meant that even as the new law was launched in South Africa it was possible to state rather pessimistically that ‘at the very minimum, the law, and in particular the new definition of rape, will aid in providing us with a slightly more accurate count of the lived experiences of sexual violence in South Africa. Of course, the ‘body count’ does very little to protect those attempting to secure justice’ (Artz and Smythe 2007:17). Whilst in England the failure of the criminal justice system to deal with ‘rape….. encapsulates the sheer inadequacy of the law in relation to gendered violence and the deeply gendered assumptions that surround legal responses to it’ (Wykes and Welsh 2009:111).

So this paper asks a deceptively simple question why is the law not working in relation to sexual violence?

11.30-1.00 Dr Judith Rowbotham, Director SOLON, London.
Title: A ‘Pressing’ Problem – Does Prison Work? Victorian Discussions on Penal Servitude and Their Modern Echoes.
The Victorian debate over whether prison worked was aired very substantially in the press of the day, because legal professionals were, in this period, the key reporters and journalists writing up issues of crime and punishment for the consumption of interested readers. The hostility of many barristers to the use of penal servitude at home (as opposed to finding a new place to transport those convicted of serious crimes) meant that issues like the length of prison sentences and the management of prison daily life were of great contemporary concern, along with the issue of repeat offending. Victorian reportage intended to put pressure on both the courts and government: and there are, today, clear echoes of a similar pressure being attempted by the modern media. This paper explores the differences between substance and representation of punishment and the role of the media in shaping the dialogue between the public and the criminal justice process.

Dr Samantha Pegg, Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University.
Title: Rationalising the Irrational – Victorian Print Presentations of Insanity Pleas.
As a defence where morality, medical opinion and substantive law meet, insanity has provoked significant press debate. The substantive legal rules governing the defence (articulated in McNaghten’s case 1843) are strict, with the core of the defence a failure to realise the nature and quality of the act or that that act was legally wrong. Despite these stringent legal rules the Victorians were accustomed to successful pleas of insanity, often based on meagre evidence. Victorian juries often allowed themselves a significant degree of latitude in allowing the defence, particularly when the defendants were women. Although the House of Lords had ascertained the legal guidelines, it was for the populous by way of the jury to administer the law and they were undoubtedly subject to the sway of the press. Of course the press were not just recounting these criminal cases but forcefully commenting upon the veracity of the defence and the character of the defendants. It is perhaps surprising the press then frequently found jury decisions wanting; believing insanity was being used as a device to unjustifiably mitigate punishment. This paper explores the ways in which the press reported upon these insanity pleas and sought to shape public understanding of the operation and availability of this defence.

Lunch: 1.00-1.55

2.00-3.30 Dr Simon Cross, Department of English and Media, Nottingham Trent University.
Grooming the nation? Media reporting of Jimmy Savile’s life, death and life-after-death.
The late broadcaster and charity fund raiser Jimmy Savile has been exposed as one of the country’s most prolific sexual offenders. This paper begins with profiles of Savile’s celebrity in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s that show his sexual predilection for girls and teenagers was an open secret. This then begs the question why in the 1990s and 2000s, when newspaper exposes of sexual offenders were nationally prominent, there was no investigation into Savile’s sexual offending. The paper illustrates how press and TV tributes to Savile’s ‘good life’ held the line on Savile’s tangible achievements after his death which is juxtaposed with press coverage detailing the extent of his sexual offending. The paper concludes by discussing inter-relations of power and culpability that enabled Savile to molest hundreds of victims with impunity.

Lieve Gies, Department of Media and Communication, University of Leicester.
Title: An anti-human rights culture? The popular press and the Human Rights Act.
One of the principal aims of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) was to bring forth a human rights culture and spread human rights values throughout society. Supporters of the HRA have blamed the paucity of positive cultural attitudes to human rights on the popular press, accusing journalists of portraying the Act as a ‘villains’ charter’ which disproportionately benefits those who are the least deserving of human rights protection. This paper examines what is behind the media hostility to the HRA. It identifies a number of factors which range from the press’s self-interest in resisting expanding privacy laws directly attributable to the HRA to a deep-seated cultural scepticism to human rights which finds its origins in a sense of national identity founded on a nostalgic longing for ancient civil liberties.

3.30-3.55 Refreshments

4.00-4.45 Closing address by Prof Graham Murdock, Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University.
Title: Fear and Loathing in Cleveland: The Prehistory of Deviancy Amplification.
In their 1973 collection, The Manufacture of News, Stan Cohen and Jock Young set out to take stock of work in what was then the emerging field of deviancy and media. Thinking around amplification and moral panics was well represented in chapters summarising their own seminal research on the media coverage of Mods and Rockers and drug takers, now often presented as the point of origin for work in this area. One of the older pieces reprinted is James Davis’s 1952 article on crime news in Colorado newspapers, which highlighted the disjunction between crime rates and coverage and argued that the press created ‘crime waves’. The footnotes to this article contain a reference to an earlier study conducted in Prohibition Cleveland three decades earlier. This paper revisits this research and the model of amplification it developed and argues for its restoration to a central place in the history of debate around the linkages between tabloidization, amplification, and popular demands for tougher ‘law and order’ policies.


Post a Comment