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Speed Kills by Jeff Ferrell

Drug Wars, Crimes of the Automobile & A Cultural Criminology of Roadside Shrines

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roadside shrine of christina gonzales by jeff ferrell (

For several years now, I've been investigating the roadside shrines and crosses that friends and family members construct in memory of those killed in automobile accidents. Developing in many cases out of the Latina/Latino and Native American tradition of descansos ("resting places") in the Southwestern United States, such shrines are increasingly found throughout the United States, and in various other forms throughout the world. My interest in the shrines is both cultural and criminological (Ferrell and Sanders 1995). Each shrine creates a new sort of cultural space (Ferrell 2001a), remaking the roadside as a memorial to a life lost, salvaging something of the sacred from the profanity of noise and litter. 

As friends and family members affix toys, photographs, key chains, compact discs, work tools, and other personal memorabilia, each shrine also takes shape as a public display, a symbolic life history of each individual victimized by automotive violence. And discovered day after day, mile after mile, these shrines have coalesced for me into something more: a roadmap of sorrow and loss, a vast graveyard splayed out along the open road, a suggestion of something more insidious than individual tragedy. 

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Jeff Ferrell. Culture, Crime, and Cultural Criminology. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 3(2) (1995)

Jeff Ferrell. 9-11 and the Public Construction of Commemoration. Teaching & Understanding Sept 11. 

Ferrell and Sanders. Cultural Criminology

Ferrell and Hamm. Ethnography at the Edge

Jeff Ferrell, Tearing Down the Streets: Adventures in Urban Anarchy. Jeff's "Boredom, Crime and Criminology" (free full text .pdf) is based on his field research for this book.

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This text is excerpted from an article of the same title in Critical Criminology: An International Journal, v 11 #3 (2002). The full article (.pdf) is freely available from the 'key papers' section of Cultural Readers can also access full text via SpringerLink. 

Critical Criminology is the official journal of the American Society of Criminology's Division on Critical Criminology. The official homepage of the Critical Criminology journal is at Springer.

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