Special Topics & Advanced Seminars

Fall 2019

ANTD41H3 F - Topics in Emerging Scholarship in Socio-Cultural Anthropology

Wrongdoers: Socio-Cultural Representations of Crime
Instructor: Salvatore Giusto (s.giusto@mail.utoronto.ca)
WE 11-1

“I am like any other man. All I do is supply a demand.” (Al Capone)

“Just as every cop is a criminal, […] and all the sinners [are] Saints.” (The Rolling Stones)

Course Abstract

Who is the criminal? Why are criminals defined as such? Do lawbreakers constitute a real challenge to the current status quo, or they further legitimize it through their supposedly “evil” deeds? How do media representation of crime strongly influence apparently common-sense interpretation of public security? How do they influence the way in which the law is authored and enforced? This class will address public discourses on crime from a culturally relativistic point of view. As such, it will explore classic and contemporary studies in the anthropology of crime, in order to debate how public representations of “the wrongdoers” impact on current issues of political power, public violence management, and socio-economic marginalization. In the first part of the course, we will discuss about how the contemporary anthropology of crime has historically emerged, while evaluating its ongoing influence on mainstream interpretations of what is considered legit in today society (and what it is not!). We will then examine how criminal activities regularly intersect local and global political economies, while playing a crucial role in their ongoing reproduction and change. Finally, we will use the remaining classes to debate how and why specific representations of "the criminal" by most mainstream media usually rely on controversial forms of stereotype and privilege, which the current anthropologists of crime can (and should!) actively challenge through their research work.