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Embodying Black Madness, Embodying White Femininity: Populist representations and public policy responses - the case of Christopher Clunis and Jayne Zito

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Disciplines
  • Medicine
  • Psychology

Abstract

This paper examines the representation of racialised and gendered bodies in relation to both the media and public policy responses to Christopher Clunis' killing of Jonathan Zito in London in 1992. Analysing written and visual media text the first section of the paper argues that dichotomous constructions between the dangerous black masculine body of Christopher Clunis and the vulnerable idealised white feminine body of Jayne Zito were drawn on to help make sense of the tragedy in a period in which public anxieties around mental health care were increasingly evident. The effectiveness of these representations can be seen in the setting up of the NHS Enquiry whose remit was to investigate the care and treatment given to Clunis by psychiatric professionals. The second section of the paper focuses on the ways in which the issue of race and the racialised body played a complex and contradictory role in both the findings of the Report and in determining the (inadequate) service that Clunis received once within the mental health care system.

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