Molly Slavin is a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow in the Writing and Communication Program, School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research interests include postcolonial literature, crime, cities, and narrative theory. She holds a PhD from Emory University’s English department.


“Crime on the Border”: Locating imperial anxiety in narratives of crime

This paper argues that contemporary imperial nations, including the United States, United Kingdom, and Israel, register imperial anxiety via cultural rhetorics of crime, and that this particular anxiety is reflective of a fear about loss of power. This paper holds that we can locate contemporary empire by looking at how these nations talk about crime, specifically crimes that take place along borders or in liminal spaces, as these are the locations where imperial hegemony is most directly threatened. By considering texts like Don Winslow’s novels about the United States/Mexico border and the anthology This is Not a Border: Reportage & Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature, as well as political rhetoric like Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration speech and British politicians’ treatment of the North of Ireland and Brexit, “Crime on the Border” contends that contemporary Empire’s anxieties, tensions, and apprehensions may be located in narratives of crime.

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