Corcoran, MS (2020) Spectacular Suffering: the imprisoned body as an artefact of resistance. Theoretical Criminology, 24 (4). pp. 651-668. ISSN 1362-4806

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The spectacle of the body in pain has long functioned heuristically in crime and justice. Within this phenomenon sits a counter-cultural tradition of re-enacting outrages in public view to rally against injustices. This article starts from the established claim that bodily suffering comprises a core matter of humanitarian campaigning. However, if ‘spectacular suffering’ has predominantly been discussed as a visual experience, this article examines its performative aspects. Transgressive performance is evident in demonstrations of forced-feeding, hunger strikes, self-immolation and lip-sewing carried out by prisoners or by their intermediaries with a view to publicizing their cause. During such exhibitions, the body in pain becomes a heuristic device for converting suffering into a medium for public consumption. However, tropes of corporal suffering are susceptible to cultural contestation and resistance from spectators. These possibilities call the publicity of suffering into question as an inherently progressive strategy.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this article is available online at
Uncontrolled Keywords: cultural criminology, performance, prisoners, public sphere, resistance, the body
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV1 Criminology
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Science and Public Policy
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2019 08:26
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2020 08:41

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