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Green Criminology, Culture, and Cinema  

Bill McClanahan, Avi Brisman, and Nigel South

Since first proposed by Brisman and South, green cultural criminology has sought to interrogate human-environment interactions in order to locate meaning. Within the broad framework of green cultural criminology, work has emerged that follows visual criminology in looking to the visual cultural register for insights into the intersections of crime, harm, justice, culture and the natural environment. This article turns the green cultural criminological gaze towards motion pictures, by considering how cinema can serve as a central and essential site of the cultural production and communication of knowledge and meaning(s) that inform human interactions with the natural environment. Indeed, environmental crimes, harms, and disasters are constructed and imagined and represented in cinema, and the films discussed in this article illustrate the ways in which the environment-culture connection in the contemporary cinematic mediascape has influenced public discourses concerning environmental change and harm. This article begins by examining the capacity of documentary film to raise public awareness and generate shifts in public consciousness about environmental harms. From here, it explores cinematic science fiction representations of apocalyptic climate disaster, noting the power of the medium in communicating contemporary anxieties surrounding climate change. Finally, filmic communications of a central category of interest for green cultural criminology—resistance to environmental harm—are described, in addition to the various ways that resistance by environmentalists has recently been represented in popular cinema. The films discussed throughout—including An Inconvenient Truth, Cowspiracy, The East, If A Tree Falls, Night Moves, and Snowpiercer—are not an exhaustive sampling of contemporary representations of environmental issues in cinema. Rather, they represent the most salient—and are among the most popular—moments of contemporary cinematic engagement with the nexus of environmental harm and culture. This article concludes by contending that a green cultural criminology should continue to look to the visual register because sites of cultural production often overlooked by criminology (e.g., cinema, literature) can reveal significant and essential information about the moments in which environmental harm, justice, and culture intersect and collide.

Article

Green Cultural Criminology: Foundations, Variations and New Frames  

Anita Lam, Nigel South, and Avi Brisman

Green cultural criminology (GCC) is a hybridized, interdisciplinary approach, drawing upon general propositions associated with green criminology and cultural criminology. Whereas green criminology is concerned with crimes and harms affecting the natural environment and the planet, including their associated impacts on human and nonhuman life, cultural criminology is focused on the ways and means by which crime and crime control are socially constructed, enforced, represented, and resisted. The directions of GCC are wide-ranging and can be expressed as forms of inquiry about (a) media and popular cultural representations of environmental harms, crimes, and disasters, including how difference, deviance, and resistance are constructed in regard to environments and spaces; (b) the dynamics and constructions of consumption, especially with respect to the commodification of nature; and (c) the contestation of space, transgression, and resistance in relation to environmental harms. Over time, variations in GCC have emerged to explore how the cultural production of meanings—namely meanings associated with environment, human, and nonhuman species along with the connections and linkages between them—structures and informs the various ways that we conceive and make sense of, think and feel about, as well as act toward, interact with, and make decisions regarding the environment. To enhance existing ways of thinking about GCC in a post-pandemic world, four additional “cultural frames” are suggested for investigation and analysis: ekphrasis, elite consumption, commodification of nature, and Black Sky Thinking.