Serial killing and the postmodern self
History of the Human Sciences
The self has been a consistently central theme in philosophy and the social sciences and, in the last decades of the 20th century, the fragmentation of the modern self has engendered extensive academic commentary. In order to contribute to current discussions about self, it is perhaps most effective to map the transformation of a single representation of the self in contemporary culture. As a cultural ‘flashpoint’, the serial killer could provide an apposite analytical focus. Drawing critically on Mark Seltzer's work on serial killers this article interprets serial killing as a form of commodified transgression. In contrast to the modern self, established through state-institutionalized routines, serial killers establish their identities through ecstatic intercourse. These acts of bodily and ethical transgression are facilitated by the use of commodities. In this way, the serial killer represents a self which is consistent with the colonization of interpersonal relations by multinational capital. The serial killer signifies the appearance of a postmodern self.
© 2006 by SAGE Publications
19(3), pp. 109-125