Theses Doctoral

Ethnographies of Contentious Criminalization: Expansion, Ambivalence, Marginalization

Terwindt, Carolijn Eva

This dissertation addresses the challenge of liberal democracies to deal with fundamental conflicts in society about, for example, political representation and natural resources, and the subsequent transfer of such conflicts into the criminal justice arena when actors fail to deal with competing demands in the political arena. In an exploration of tensions between law and justice, and the competing conceptions of "crime" and "harm," this work analyzes criminalization processes in three contentious episodes: the Chilean-Mapuche territorial conflict, the Spanish-Basque separatist conflict, and the eco-conflict in the United States. Although prosecutors invariably asserted their independence and the democratic mandate to "simply" enforce the law, this dissertation describes the gradual politicization of criminal proceedings as opposing actors implicated in the political struggle move into the criminal justice arena and make it subject to and the space of claim-making. This study not only challenges the belief that criminal law can be applied in an independent and neutral manner. Taking a constructivist perspective on the prosecutorial narrative and analyzing how mobilization and discursive action of "victims" and "prisoner supporters" aim to push or challenge criminal prosecutions, it describes in detail the ways in which such conflictive and interpretive processes fundamentally alter the logic and development of criminal prosecutions.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Fagan, Jeffrey A.
J.S.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 9, 2012