The Vigilant(e) Parent and the Paedophile: The News of the World Campaign 2000 and the Contemporary Governmentality of Child Sexual Abuse

Bell, Vikki. 2002. The Vigilant(e) Parent and the Paedophile: The News of the World Campaign 2000 and the Contemporary Governmentality of Child Sexual Abuse. Feminist Theory, 3(1), ISSN 1464-7001 [Article]


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Abstract or Description

Between 1821 and 1824 Theodore Gericault (1791-1824) attempted to capture on canvas the faces of various '��monomanias'��, including a portrait of a '�"man with the '��monomania'�� of child kidnapping"(1822-3) which was recently exhibited in London as part of the Spectacular Bodies exhibition (Hayward Gallery, 2000). The exhibition traced, inter alia, the development of the aestheticisation of insanity through technologies of knowledge production. To the modern eye there is nothing especially significant or noteworthy about this monomaniac'��s appearance beyond looking rather miserable and forlorn, but the series of portraits, instigated by Dr Etienne-Jean Georget of the asylum at Ivry, were explicitly attempting to present certain typical features. In this instance, â��the haunted, sideways glance, asymmetrical sag of the mouth and hollow cheeksâ�� were indicative of his type, the child abductor (Kemp and Wallace, 2000:126). As the exhibition illustrated, photography soon took the place of painting, and the nineteenth century saw the development of this practice of depicting madness, with Jean-Martin Charcot famously building his career on the production of such representations, establishing his photographic unit at the hospital of the Salpatriere in Paris, and writing and lecturing on the "��visual iconography of the insane"��. In Britain Francis Galton studied photographic portraits of criminals from the Home Office and, arguing that â��natural classesâ�� of individuals appeared, produced his composite photographs that purported to illustrate the typical face of each grouping - one of which were sexual offenders. In Italy, Cesaire Lombroso combined a reading of evolutionary theory with his studies of the human skull and his use of photographic portraits to present his notorious argument that criminals were atavistic, throwbacks from an earlier period, whose status as such was betrayed by their physiognomy. Presented here in London 2000 for their historical curiosity, his photographic tables showing the faces of Italian and German criminals were initially presented in 1889 under the title '��the Anthropology of the Criminal'�� with the criminalâ�'s name printed underneath each of the sixty eight portraits. (Excerpt, opening paragraph).

Item Type:



Parents; Mothers; Child sexual abuse; Feminist politics; Media; Governmentality

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Date Deposited:

22 Mar 2007

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:28

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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