1st Edition

Criminal Bodies in the West Iconography and Life after Death

Edited By Melissa Schrift Copyright 2020
    116 Pages
    by Routledge

    114 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores the cultural meanings of the criminal body in the west through historical and multidisciplinary frameworks, examining both how the criminal corpse was viewed as a repository of power and how it held significant cultural meaning as material relic.

    Authors situate the criminal body at different historical junctures to examine ways in which the criminal corpse was displayed and managed for social, political, magical and medicinal powers and purposes. They explain how this legacy persists in significant ways in the contemporary west, primarily through the commodification of criminal bodies in popular and public displays. The role of notorious criminal bodies in contemporary culture also reverberates in political and scientific realms in which criminal bodies often carry symbolic meanings related to ambivalence over interpretations of death.

    Drawing on examples from history as well as more contemporary criminal bodies, the book will be of interest to those studying death and criminology, and show how the criminal body can retain an iconic status in the collective memory of the living. This book was originally published as a special issue of Mortality.

    1. Life after death: an introduction to the criminal body in the West

    Melissa Schrift

    2. The criminal corpse in pieces

    Francesca Matteoni

    3. Curious afterlives: the enduring appeal of the criminal corpse

    Sarah Tarlow

    4. The commodification of the criminal corpse: ‘selective memory’ in posthumous representations of criminal

    Jack Denham

    5. Bodies of Evidence: Criminalising the Celebrity Corpse

    Jacque Lynn Foltyn

    6. Criminality, narrative and the expert witness in American biohistory

    William N. Duncan and Christopher M. Stojanowski

    7. Osama’s body: death of a political criminal and (Re)birth of a nation

    Melissa Schrift


    Melissa Schrift is a Professor of Anthropology at East Tennessee State University, USA. Her current research interests include cultural perceptions of the body and the social history of medicine. She is the author of two books and multiple articles, and has been awarded an American Fellowship for her work on Melugeons.