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The Politics of Crime in the Black Atlantic

  • Module code: CM6011
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 6
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: Successfully complete level 5 Criminology or equivalent

Summary

The module studies the role played by race in all aspects of the criminal justice systems in the United States and United Kingdom. It takes as its point of departure Professor Paul Gilroy's 1993 concept of the ‘Black Atlantic' as a cultural-political ‘space of hybridity' involving Africa, America, Britain and the Caribbean, and we use that concept to examine the extent to which crime and the criminal justice system have been politicised.

The module concerns itself with the shifting politics of race within the criminal justice system. Among other topics, it explores historical representations of race and crime; press and media depictions of black male offenders; racial profiling and the ‘othering' of female offenders; and the commodification of prison that has led to the United States having the highest incarceration rates in the world.

Other focal areas include racial disparities within the criminal justice system, the politics of punishment and sentencing, and empirical, theoretical, practical and policy issues. The module addresses issues of representation, the production of knowledge, the historical contexualisation of minority experiences in theoretical perspectives, and the ethical duties of criminologists working within minority experiences.

The module includes a field trip to Bristol to explore the history of immigration and emigration as it relates to crime. 

Aims

  • To critically evaluate the impact of race and perceptions based on race, criminal justice and policing in both the United States and United Kingdom
  • To consider ways in which the criminal justice system and media representations of crime reflects attitudes toward racial minorities
  • To critically analyse evidence and statistics such as arrest, incarceration and recidivism rates to better understand the factual basis of criminological studies
  • To critically evaluate a range of sociological and criminological approaches to the question of race and crime

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of approaches from a variety of disciplines to issues of crime and race in the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • demonstrate a critical understanding and appreciation of the criminal justice system and ways in which media representations of minority groups can contribute to the marginalisation of racial minorities
  • employ a range of analytical skills and tools to frame and address key research questions about race, crime and gender
  • demonstrate analytical and critical writing skills that convey their understanding of race and crime.
  • think critically about issues in political, social, economic and cultural life that relate  directly to issues of race and crime.

Curriculum content

  • Historical overview of race and crime in the United States and United Kingdom
  • Immigration
  • The Black family
  • Mass incarceration
  • Women in prison
  • Riots and mass criminality
  • Policing and race
  • Reflective practice and its applicability to academic writing
  • Perceptions of the criminal justice system
  • Media representations of race and crime
  • Gender based violence
  • ‘Black on Black' crime
  • Poverty
  • Education
  • Employment

Teaching and learning strategy

This module will be taught through weekly three hour lectures and group workshops. Workshops will be interactive in nature and will provide students with the opportunity to develop their ideas about core concepts and theoretical ideas covered in lectures. Students will be expected to undertake a significant amount of independent research in order to participate effectively in lectures and workshops. Relevant learning materials will be provided on Canvas, including digitised reading materials, lecture and workshop slides, video and documentary sources and examples of comparative case studies. 

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lecture (22 x 1 hour) Workshop (22 x 2 hour) 22 44
Scheduled learning and teaching Reading, preparation for seminars and assessment 234
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

The module will be assessed using a combination of formative and summative assessments. Students will receive feedback on formative exercises so that they are able to use this constructively to contribute to the summative assessments of the module. 

Participants will produce a reflective  diary based on personal reflections of their engagement and understanding of ideas and concepts covered in the curriculum. The reflective diary will be used as a summative assessment to help students map their personal understanding, responses and thoughts on themes covered in lectures and workshops.

A1 A three minute Documentary  Video and a one page overview including references (1000) words) (summative 40%).

A2 Comparative Case Study (3,000 words) based on a theme covered in the curriculum (summative 60%).

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
demonstrate an understanding of approaches from a variety of disciplines to issues of crime and race in the United States and the United Kingdom. Production of a video diary (formative) Case Study Proposal (summative) Comparative Case Study
demonstrate the ability to employ diverse analytical resources to frame and address research questions. Formative/Summative Comparative case study
demonstrate analytical writing skills that convey their understanding of the topic. Formative/Summative Video diary Comparative Case Study
think critically about issues in political, social, economic and cultural life that bear directly on issues of race and crime. Formative/Summative Video diary Comparative Case Study
think critically about issues in political, social, economic and cultural life that relate directly to issues of race and crime. Formative/Summative Case Study Proposal Comparative case study
develop a deeper understanding of the criminal justice systems in both the United States and United Kingdom and appreciate how experiences of those systems may be heavily influence by race. Formative/Summative Comparative case study

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Alexander, M., 2012. The New Jim Crow, New York: The New Press.

Carbado, D.W. & Gulati, Mitu, 2013. Acting White? Rethinking Race in Post-Racial America, Oxford: Oxford University Press, USA.

Hill Collins, Patricia, Black Sexual Politics, Routledge.

Gabbidon, S.L., 2008. Race, ethnicity, crime and justice : an international dilemma, London: SAGE.

hooks, bell, 2015. Black looks : race and representation New., 

Pettit, B., 2012. Invisible men : mass incarceration and the myth of black progress, New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Rowe M, (2012) Race and Crime: Key approaches to Criminology Sage:London

 Schiffer, M. A. (2014). Women of color and crime: critical race theory perspective to address disparate prosecution. Arizona Law Review 56(4), 1203-1226

Bibliography recommended reading

Bhopal. K. (2001), ‘Researching South Asian Women: issues of sameness and difference in the research process', Journal of Gender Studies, 10/3: 279-286.

Bowling, B and Phillips, C. (2002), Racism, Crime and Justice. Harlow: Longman.

Bowling, B. (2005). Understanding Crime in Jamaica: New Challenges for Public Policy. By Anthony Harriott (ed.) (University of the West Indies Press, 2003, 239pp. 35.00 pb). The British Journal of Criminology, (2), 236-239.

Clear, Todd R., Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Worse (Studies in Crime and Public Policy), by Oxford University Press, 2009

Clear, Todd R., (2013) The Punishment Imperative: The Rise and Failure of Mass Incarceration in America, NYU Press

Drucker, E (2011) A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America, The New Press

Gabiddon, (2010)  New Directions in Race, Ethnicity and Crime :An International Dilemma  Sage:USA

Gilroy, P (1993) The Black Atlantic Harvard University Press

Glynn, M. (2014). Black men, invisibility and desistance from crime: Towards a critical race theory of desistance.

Kozol, J (2012) Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools, Broadway Books

Phillips and Webster, (2013) (eds), New Directions in Race, Ethnicity and Crime Routledge

Lawrence, Hall, Grieve and Savage, (2009) (eds) Policing and the Legacy of Lawrence Willan

Loewen, James W.,(2012) Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, Touchstone

Manza, J (2006) Locked Out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy (Studies in Crime and Public Policy), Oxford University Press

Petersilia, Joan, When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry (Studies in Crime and Public Policy), Oxford University Press, 2009

Hindpal Singh, Bhui, (2008) Race and Criminal Justice,  Sage: London

Phillips, C and Bowling, B (2003) Racism, ethnicity and criminology: developing minority perspectives. British journal of criminology, 43 (2). pp. 269-290.

Phillips, C and Webster, N (2013) ‘New Directions in Race Ethnicity and Crime' Routledge:London

Rice, S and White,D (2010) eds, Race, Ethnicity and Policing: New and Essential Readings, NYU Press

Rowe, M (2007) Policing Beyond MacPherson: Issues in Policing, Race and Society Willan

Stuntz, William J.(2011), The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press

Tonry, Michael H., (2004) Thinking about Crime: Sense and Sensibility in American Penal Culture (Studies in Crime and Public Policy), Oxford University Press

Whitman, James Q., (2005) Harsh Justice: Criminal Punishment and the Widening Divide between America and Europe, Oxford University Press, USA

Walker, S., Spohn C. and DeLone, M. (1996), The Color of Justice: Race, Ethnicity and Crime in America, Belmont, California: Wadsworth.

Young V. and Sulton A. T. (1996), ‘Excluded: The Current Status Of African-American Scholars In The Field Of Criminology And Criminal Justice' in A. T. Sulton, ed., African-American Perspectives On Crime Causation, Criminal Justice Administration and Crime Prevention, Newton, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann. 

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