MA course Crime, Criminalisation and Gender – Institute for European Ethnology (Germany)

Syllabus designed by Prof. Beate Binder, Dr. Friederike Faust, and Dr. Todd Sekuler through the Institute for European Ethnology and the Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies of Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany, summer 2021; Language: German and English.

Course description

The seminar starts from the observation that criminalization is increasingly demanded and/or used as a tool in contemporary politics by governmental institutions, emancipatory interventions and right-wing populist movements. Social problems, it seems, are often discussed in terms of il/legality, rights and wrongs, and un/justness; police, courts, and prisons are often invoked as appropriate institutions for responding to social problems; and emancipatory demands are increasingly tied to the expansion of criminal law and more consistent law enforcement. But what does this mean for the modalities of democratic governance and citizenship? In this course, we explore the current political dynamics of criminalization from anthropological and sociological perspectives, interrogating them for their intersectional dimensions with an emphasis on gender and gendering. The first half of the seminar deals with the construction of, and responses to, criminality, and the feminist critique of criminalisation. In the second part, the seminar will be divided into three working groups, each engaging with a distinct topic of criminalization from an intersectional perspective. Finally, the results of the group work will be presented and discussed with regards to the central question: What ambivalences arise when, on the one hand, crime control and prosecution are called upon to improve the protection of particularly vulnerable/vulnerabilized groups and, on the other hand, criminalization drastically restricts rights and opportunities for democratic participation? How does criminalization interfere with the relationship between the state, citizens, non-governmental organizations and private companies? What does this mean for democratic participation and the fundamental rights of criminalized subjects?

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