Capturing the Criminal Image: From Mug Shot to Surveillance Society

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Overview

At the beginning of the twentieth century, criminals, both alleged and convicted, were routinely photographed and fingerprinted, and these visual representations of their criminal nature were archived for possible future use. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, a plethora of new tools-biometrics, DNA analysis, digital imagery, and computer databases-similarly provide new ways for representing the criminal.

Capturing the Criminal Image traces how the act of representing-and watching-is central to modern law enforcement. Jonathan Finn analyzes the development of police photography in the nineteenth century to foreground a critique of three identification practices fundamental to current police work: fingerprinting, DNA analysis, and surveillance programs and databases. He shows these practices at work by examining specific police and border-security programs, including several established by the U.S. government after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Contemporary law enforcement practices, he argues, position die body as something that is potentially criminal. As Finn reveals, the collection and archiving of identification data-which consist today of much more than photographs or fingerprints-reflect a reconceptualization of the body itself. And once archived, identification data can be interpreted and reinterpreted according to highly mutable and sometimes dubious conceptions of crime and criminality.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816650699
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 10/21/2009
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Finn is associate professor of communication studies at Wilfrid Laurier University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Constructing the Criminal in North America vii

1 Picturing the Criminal: Photography and Criminality in the Nineteenth Century 1

2 Photographing Fingerprints: Data, Evidence, and Latent Identification 31

3 The Control of Inscriptions: Standardizing DNA Analysis 57

4 Potential Criminality: The Body in the Digital Archive 81

5 Visible Criminality: Data Collection, Border Security, and Public Display 106

Acknowledgments 131

Notes 133

Index 153

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