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Racialized Culpability: Victim Blaming and State Violence

Race, Ethnicity and Law

ISBN: 978-1-78714-604-4, eISBN: 978-1-78714-603-7

Publication date: 25 May 2017



This chapter draws on feminist theorizing on rape culture and victim blaming, and proposes a concept, racialized victim blaming, as a useful tool for understanding discourse on state violence.


The concept of racialized victim blaming is applied to historically analyze the genesis of the carceral state, and deconstruct public debates on police shootings and immigration crises.


This chapter argues that racialized victim blaming is used as a discursive tool to legitimize and mystify state violence projects. Officials and the media use racialized logics and narratives to blame the victims of state violence for their own suffering, justifying continued or increased state violence.


The concept of victim blaming is most often associated with violence against women. Here I demonstrate that victim blaming is also a useful tool for understanding state violence, particularly when attention is given to the place of racializing narratives.




Many thanks to Sang Pahk for his comments and guidance in the writing of this chapter.


Chagnon, N.J. (2017), "Racialized Culpability: Victim Blaming and State Violence", Race, Ethnicity and Law (Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, Vol. 22), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 199-219.



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