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Black Knowledges/Black StrugglesEssays in Critical Epistemology$
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Jason R. Ambroise and Sabine Broeck

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781781381724

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781381724.001.0001

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Ethno-Class Man and the Inscription of “the Criminal”: On the Formation of Criminology in the USA

Ethno-Class Man and the Inscription of “the Criminal”: On the Formation of Criminology in the USA

(p.68) 4 Ethno-Class Man and the Inscription of “the Criminal”: On the Formation of Criminology in the USA
Black Knowledges/Black Struggles

Jason R. Ambroise

Liverpool University Press

This chapter revisits the conception of the offender put forth by practitioners of the then novel discourse of criminology during the late nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century. Basing themselves on the definition of the human as a purely natural organism — generated from a variant of late nineteenth-century Darwinian/Spencerian biology and its adaptations — these practitioners projected the existence of a class of offenders against the law that further existed as a unique and differential category of mankind. As a result of this projection, ‘the criminal’ was invented as an object in the field of knowledge. The chapter argues that the promise of these criminology practitioners to emancipate mankind from the phenomenon of ‘crime’ should be understood as the emancipation of the genre of ‘being’ human of ethno-class Man — and thereby its referent population — around which the post-Civil War, post-Reconstruction, US variant of the societal order of the Western bourgeoisie was based. In consequence, the disproportionate representation of the Black American population within the criminal justice system of the late nineteenth- and turn-of-the-century functioned as the sacrificial price paid for securing the ‘being’/well-being of ethno-class Man, of its conception of ‘freedom’.

Keywords:   offenders, criminology, emancipation, ethno-class Man, criminals, social order, Black Americans, criminal justice system

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