CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, August 19, 2011

Leong on Traffic Stops

Leong nancy Nancy Leong (University of Denver Sturm College of Law) has posted The Open Road and the Traffic Stop: Narratives and Counter-Narratives of the American Dream on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

American culture is steeped in the mythology of the open road. In our collective imagination, the road represents freedom, escape, friendship, romance, and above all, the possibility for a better life. But our shared dream of the open road comes to a halt in the mundane reality of the traffic stop - a judicially-authorized policing procedure in which an officer may pull over a vehicle if she has cause to believe the driver has committed even the most minor traffic violation. This paper examines the cultural texts - books, movies, songs - celebrating the open road and juxtaposes them against those documenting the traffic stop. The traffic stop, I conclude, interrupts the open road narrative closely associated with the American dream. Those stopped most frequently - in particular, racial minorities - are consequently denied full participation in an abiding national fantasy.

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