From 21st to 24th September this year, I was lucky enough to spend several days hearing about the work of fellow criminologists (and sociologists of deviance!), at the European Society of Criminology’s Annual Conference, held in Münster, Germany (http://www.eurocrim2016.com/). All matter of criminological subjects were covered … crime prevention, criminal justice processes and systems, victim support, offender motivation, criminal behaviour, to name a few. Typical of the ESC, there were lots of paper presentations – and inevitably this meant I was only able to attend a tiny percent of presentations. Those that I attended covered research work on extremism and terrorism, cybercrime, immigration, honour crimes and sexual violence. I was inspired by the several thought-provoking plenaries, and especially hopeful for the future of critical criminological work when I met a number of postgraduate and early-career researchers.
I was also honoured to have been able to present my own paper. Based on arguments contained in my upcoming book ‘Race and Society’ (to be released in November 2016, by Sage publications), my conference paper was titled ‘Cultural repertoires in the media’s coverage of child sexual exploitation’. In it, I discussed the media’s coverage of two child sexual exploitation (CSE) cases in Rochdale (Greater Manchester) and Rotherham (South Yorkshire), UK. These cases gained prominent media attention in the period between 2010 and 2015. The CSE involved young white female victims and male abusers of black and minority ethnic (BME) background, in particular of Pakistani heritage and of Muslim faith. The paper argued that these cases were narrated in the media entirely through a cultural repertoire, and drew on older racialised panics about the black (or in particular, brown) menace and white victims. This further presented racialized profiling methods as necessary. Apart from the obvious concern around racial profiling, I argue that there is also the problem that the crime of CSE becomes racialised – presented as a form of culturally-specific deviance, rather than one about gender and power. I concluded by emphasising how the media’s racialised (re)presentation of these CSE cases takes into account their relative power in modern society, as well as their status, along with other elites, as joint-producers of information about race and racism.
Thank you to the ESC organisers and delegates for enabling a thoroughly enjoyable, thought-provoking and inspiring conference. And, thank you to the people of Münster for your warm welcome, wonderful weather and delicious food!
Dr Tina G. Patel is a senior lecturer in Criminology. To hear more about Tina’s work, you can follow her on Twitter: @DrTinaPatel.