Dr Diana Miranda has recently joined the Keele Criminology team as a teaching fellow. In this blog post she provides an overview her PhD thesis which, in December, she successfully defended at the University of Minho in Portugal.
My doctoral research explored the meanings attributed to criminal identification technologies and their uses. This study drew on a set of different viewpoints and knowledge of actors involved in the diverse practices of criminal identification. On one hand, the individual who is classified as criminal and the usual target of these practices, and on the other, the professionals that identify and classify him as such in criminal investigation and prison contexts. Following the experiences of these different actors, the thesis studied the way criminal identification technologies are used in practice and explored their impacts in the co-construction of the criminal body and identity.
The thesis concluded that the diverse social, technological, human and non-human elements and the interactions established between them are situated in a complex socio-technical network that highlights the multiplicity of perspectives around technologies and the heterogeneity of its effects. Considering the agency of identification technologies and the influence they have on the way social actors interact, the figure of the hybrid comes as a solution. The research posed the concept of a ‘double game’ (I/other) played by ‘double agents’ (humans and non-humans) to explore the process of co-construction of the criminal and his body.
The reflection around this process led to development of a conceptual analysis of the dynamics of dominance, submission and resistance. These dynamics endure in a strategic game played by the different actors in the course of identification rituals that are assumed as a product of specific power configurations. Finally, the thesis explored new strategies for the exercise of power emerging from the ‘biologization’ of criminality and the (re)configuration of suspicion, as a rationale for the constant targeting of the criminal as a suspect.