A place like Midsomer: Leicester criminologists on rural racism

Posted by pt91 at Mar 28, 2011 01:05 PM |
It was the first of a new series of Midsomer Murders last week and recent events may have had you closely scrutinising the ethnic diversity of the fictional village with the unprecedentedly high murder rate.

After the furore over comments that it represents the ‘last bastion of Englishness’ there have been a few questions raised about our notions of Englishness and village life, on and off the TV screen.

Yet, the rural idyll of the village as the last bastion of Englishness is in keeping with the beliefs, hopes and aspirations of many country people according to Jon Garland and Neil Chakraborti from our Department of Criminology.

They have been researching racism and hate crime for several years now, with two recent publications to their names: co-authoring Hate Crime: Impact, Causes and Responses and co-editing Rural Racism. Commenting for Leicester Exchanges, their work has shown that opinions and values which equate the countryside exclusively and unthinkingly with white Englishness were far from uncommon amongst white rural residents and were in fact echoed in many rural towns and villages.

According to the academics: 

Minority ethnic incomers were often treated with suspicion as many white rural residents felt that they belonged only in the city, with all its concomitant ‘negative’ attributes of noise, pollution, crime and, crucially for some, multiculturalism. The rural, in their eyes, was an escape from all of those things, and the presence of a minority ethnic family suggested that the city was somehow ‘invading’ the space of the tranquil rural they so treasured.”