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The scene of the crime: inventing the serial killer

By Alexandra Warwick

Abstract

This article examines the meanings of the crime scene in serial killings, and the tensions between the real and the imagined in the circulation of those meanings. Starting with the Whitechapel Murders of 1888 it argues that they, as well as forming an origin for the construction of the identity of 'the serial killer', initiate certain ideas about the relationship of subjects to spaces and the existence of the self in the modern urban landscape. It suggests that these ideas come to play an integral part in the contemporary discourse of serial killing, both in the popular imagination and in professional analysis. Examining the Whitechapel Murders, more recent cases and modern profiling techniques, it argues that popular and professional representations of crime scenes reveal more of social anxieties about the nature of the public and the private than they do about serial killers. It suggests that 'the serial killer' is not a coherent type, but an invention produced from the confusions of persons and places. Copyright 2006 SAGE Publications. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.\u

Topics: UOW10
OAI identifier: oai:westminsterresearch.wmin.ac.uk:3478
Provided by: WestminsterResearch

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