Master of Arts (MA)
First Advisor's Name
Steven R. Blevins
First Advisor's Committee Title
Second Advisor's Name
Heather D. Russell
Third Advisor's Name
Alpesh K. Patel
Miami, Miami Graffiti, Penit, Biopolitics, Wynwood, Reefa, street art, cultural studies, Michel Foucault, graffiti, delinquency, carceral archipelago, heterotopia, penitentiary
Date of Defense
In the tradition of the Birmingham School of cultural studies, this thesis focuses on Miami’s graffiti subculture and the conflicts between market economies and economies of social meaning. As a reference point, I consider Miami’s “Penits”: the name given to the seemingly abandoned buildings where graffiti is performed. Short for penitentiary, the term derives from the 1980s after a large building rumored to be a prison was defunded midway through its construction. After this first reclamation, every other graffiti heterotopia in Miami has been similarly recoded as spaces that mock structures of discipline and industry.
Through Michel Foucault’s biopolitical framework I argue that the sovereign state and marketplace conspire to dually criminalize and commoditize the subculture’s performative defiance. I conclude by illustrating how the market itself reinforces the carceral archipelago by framing the subculture’s vandal aesthetic through the normalized, self-interested boundaries of conduct that the market itself deems il/legal.
Merida, Victor M., "Life in the Penit: Framing and Performing Miami's Graffiti Subculture" (2014). FIU Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1184.
American Popular Culture Commons, Other Arts and Humanities Commons, Other History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology Commons, Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures Commons, Regional Sociology Commons, Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance Commons, Sociology of Culture Commons, Theory and Criticism Commons
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