States of Crime: The State in Crime Fiction

full name / name of organization: 
Queen's University Belfast
contact email: 
statesofcrime2011@gmail.com

States of Crime: The State in Crime Fiction

17th-18th of June 2011, Queen's University, Belfast.

Call for papers/ Appel à contribution

Deadline/ Date limite: 28th February 2011

Keynote speaker: Professor Dominique Kalifa, Université Paris 1 Panthéon - Sorbonne

Guest Writers: Eoin McNamee, David Peace

This conference examines crime fiction through the various manifestations of its relations to the State. State institutions are unlike other protagonists in criminal affairs, due to their monopoly of legitimate violence and have hitherto received comparatively little attention in literary criticism. Yet, shadows of the state apparatus loom large over crime fiction, both within the narration and as a referential background. The emergence of the detective novel mirrors historically the advent of the modern police state. It reflects the creation of an organised network of surveillance and control. Poe’s 'The Purloined Letter' conceals a State affair. The genre has often been shown to display securitarian tendencies. The detective, either himself an agent of the State or a “private eye” objectively fulfilling the role of an auxiliary of justice, classically pursues not only the punishment of deviant individuals, but the restoration of order. At the same time, distinctions between exponents of State order and criminals have been blurred since the origins and the figure of Vidocq. In a similar fashion to Hugo’s couple Valjean/Javert and Dostoievsky’s Raskolnikov/ Porfir Petrovitch, crime readers’ sympathies have often veered towards the criminal rather than the State. Evolutions within the genre, in the wake of WWI, the Russian revolution and the American Great Depression, have introduced a more explicit critique of State corruption, and of the surrender of public bodies to private interests, lobbies, and organised crime. Post WWII, the “Noir” has accrued its counter cultural credentials with a critique of State oppression, cultural domination, silencing of minorities, and racial and sexist discrimination.
Much contemporary crime fiction continues to buttress the authority of the State but at the same time an increased political radicalisation of the genre has developed worldwide in the context of decolonisation and the Vietnam War. Marxist, Anarchist and Post-Situationist crime fiction authors have explored the genre’s subversive potential, while experiencing its constraints and contradictions. As crime fiction's geo-politics reach has expanded, the generic boundaries separating crime, thriller and espionage fiction have been called into question, along with the State's ability to control its territorial borders and the distinction between domestic and international securitization.

One of the aims of this conference is to compare different international approaches to the State in Crime Fiction within their various historical, national and political contexts. To what extent do different state traditions (i.e. Scandinavia, Italy, the US, the German Democratic Republic) find an echo in crime literature and films produced in their respective area? To what extent do these different state traditions produce distinctive crime fictions? What are the various purposes served in representing the State, and how much do they differ in a federal State, a decentralised State, or a popular democracy? In a one-party state, a Republic and a constitutional monarchy ? Do cultural transfers in the genre reflect such differences? How far is crime fiction - a genre that has developed in consort with the consolidation of the modern State - able to challenge political domination, debunk the ideologies of public discourses, uncover State secrets and revisit official history?

We invite papers in English which discuss, from a wide range of disciplines all aspects of such questions or deal with some of the following points (the list is by no means exhaustive), in any given literature and country, or in international comparison:

* Crime fiction and Democracy
* State culture and literary traditions
* The State and civil society: neutral umpire or capitalist vehicle?
* Public vs private: the State as gendered domain?
* Racism and antiracism
* Securing the city: race, ethnicity, class and the police
* Police procedurals and the police
* State crimes and State affairs
* State responsibility in war crimes, crimes against Humanity, and Genocide
* Antiterrorism and State terror/coercion
* Decolonization and postcolonial crime fiction
* Hobbes, Marx, Weber, Foucault, and Deleuze… Influence of theory on crime fiction.
* The Politicization of crime fiction
* Progressivism and Revolution
* Anarchism, leftism and reactionary politics
* Marxist and Situationist crime fiction: a contradiction ?
* The Noir as “committed” literature : roman noir and engagement
* Public utilities and general interest
* The shrinking State: privatisation and the end of the welfare State
* Dismantlement of the social state and the rise of corporate interests
* Crime Fiction in the age of advanced financial capitalism
* Private security agencies and non-elected public authorities
* Infra-State entities and regional crime fiction
* “Public Choice Theories”, “New Public Management” and “new” forms of governance
* The Europeanization of the police. Europol, trans-border police cooperation and crime fiction
* Globalisation and the State.
* The detective novel in popular democracies

N. B. Papers should be no more than twenty minutes in length.

Conference organisers: Dr. Dominique Jeannerod, French Studies, QUB, and Dr. Andrew Pepper, English Studies, QUB.

Please send 300-word abstracts of papers to statesofcrime2011@gmail.com by 28th February 2011

A publication of proceedings from the conference is planned.

cfp categories: 
american
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
ethnicity_and_national_identity
film_and_television
interdisciplinary
international_conferences
journals_and_collections_of_essays
popular_culture
postcolonial
twentieth_century_and_beyond
victorian