Narratives of Money & Crime

Neoliberalism in Film, Literature and Popular Culture

by Yasmin Temelli (Volume editor) Hans Bouchard (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection 246 Pages
Series: Romania Viva, Volume 39


What do druglords, corrupt politicians, failed states and distopias, mental disorders, scamming practices and feminism have in common? They all are actors and products of the complex intersections between money and crime that not only permeate our daily lives, but also produce worlds and narratives within their respective cultural products. From Hollywood dystopias to Netflix and TV series about Wall Street and Brazilian and Mexican politics, to fetishism and conspiracy to mental disorders in the workplace, the contributions to this volume explore the complex relations of neoliberalism and crime. The main objective of the publication is to examine such cultural and medial productions in order to differentiate the discourse about them and to enable a concrete picture of the underlying constituents.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • Über das Buch
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Contributors
  • Narratives of Money & Crime – An Introduction (Yasmin Temelli and Hans Bouchard)
  • Film
  • Neoliberalism and Crime in Hollywood Cinema (Stephen Trinder)
  • Subjetividad y poder en el entretenimiento contemporáneo: el caso de la serie Billones (Tanius Karam Cárdenas)
  • Corruptionscape in Brazil: O mecanismo (Oliver Fahle)
  • “Magnicidio en streaming”: estéticas neoliberales del escándalo de corrupción en Historia de un crimen: Colosio (Javier Ferrer Calle)
  • From Neoliberal Crime in Aguirre, the Wrath of God to Transcultural Solidarity in Queen of the Desert (Guido Rings)
  • Literature
  • Fetishism and Conspiracy: Representations of Money in Ricardo Piglia’s Plata quemada and Blanco nocturno (Lucía Feuillet, Hernán Maltz and Lina Wilhelms)
  • Pequeña polaroid dramatúrgica de la supervivencia en el neoliberalismo mexicano. Dos casos de la realidad social disfrazada de ficción (Omar Guadarrama Aguirre)
  • Murder or mercy killing? Marin Ledun’s novel Les visages écrasés (Yasmin Temelli)
  • Popular Culture
  • The Art of Scamming: Playful Performance and Shameless Exploitation (Hans Bouchard)
  • Whose Bodies Make Money? Feminist Movements Addressing the Intersections of Capital, Coloniality and Gender (Julia Roth)

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List of Contributors

Hans Bouchard

Universität Siegen

Oliver Fahle

Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Javier Ferrer Calle

Universität Siegen

Lucía Feuillet

Universidad Nacional de Córdoba

Omar Guadarrama Aguirre

Universität Bielefeld

Tanius Karam Cárdenas

Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México

Hernán Maltz

Universidad de Buenos Aires

Guido Rings

Anglia Ruskin University

Julia Roth

Universität Bielefeld

Yasmin Temelli

Universität Siegen

Stephen Trinder

Abu Dhabi Women’s College

Lina Wilhelms

Universität Paderborn

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Yasmin Temelli and Hans Bouchard

Narratives of Money & Crime – An Introduction

A man and a woman sit opposite each other on a veranda. The Mediterranean landscape in the background shines in the sunlight and the silhouettes of the two are shrouded in dark shadows. “Connie, all my life I kept trying to go up in society, where everything higher up was legal, straight, but the higher I go, the crookeder it becomes” (Coppola 1990, from 1:40′:56″). This is said by someone who needs to know: Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) – The Godfather. It is a key scene in the third part of the Mafia movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola (1990), inspired by Mario Puzo’s (1969) novel of the same name. The ageing and diabetic padrino shows frustration and resignation to his sister, as his efforts to retire from organised crime and to clear his family name through a deal with the Vatican fail with the realisation that money and crime form an all too productive alliance in all spheres. “Where the hell does it end?” (Coppola 1990, from 1:41′:08″), asks Michael Corleone. For our part, however, we will deal in this volume with the question: How does it continue? Our focus is on the numerous contemporary cinematic productions, literary works and testimonies of popular culture that now tell of a triangulation: money and crime in times of neoliberalism.

The foil of neoliberalism may not be surprising in its omnipresence. It has hardly escaped anyone’s notice that the principle of the market reigns in Western societies1 and that its expansion goes so far and is so comprehensive that it functions beyond the monetary acts of exchange of a classical liberal nature in neoliberalism as a “principle of intelligibility and a principle of decipherment of social relationships and individual behavior” (Foucault 2008 [1979], 243). This means first and foremost that in neoliberal discourse and practice we are dealing with a push-back of the state, with a←9 | 10→

claim of the superiority of the market mechanism and competition-driven processes of capitalist development over state-driven pathways of social and economic organization, the limitation of government to the protection of individual rights, especially property rights, privatization of state enterprises and the liberalization of formerly strictly regulated and government administered markets (Plehwe and Walpen 2006, 27).

After the Black Friday stock market crash of 1929 and the resulting world economic crisis, hopes in Western societies were pinned on a strong state that was capable of acting and, regarding the three dimensions of the political, polity, policy and politics, able to play a decisive role in determining the last two. But from the 1970s onwards, confidence in the potency of the state gradually declined inter alia due to rising unemployment, high inflation and promises of all-round insurance that could not be kept. Zygmunt Bauman exaggeratedly comments in this context that “the state was downgraded from the rank of the most powerful engine of universal well-being to that of a most obnoxious, perfidious and annoying obstacle to economic progress” (in Bauman and Bordoni 2014, 9).

This downgrading goes hand in hand with an upgrade of the neoliberal governmentality that is characterised by Michel Foucault as an interlocking of technologies of power and technologies of the self, which form the “homo œconomicus as entrepreneur of himself” (Foucault 2008 [1979], 226). Governance increasingly takes place through individualisation: The economically and rationally calculating individual orients his mode of existence and self-management according to cost-benefit relations and tries to optimise his potential continuously. Following the logic of the bioeconomy, as defined by Christian Marazzi, the market is the dispositive that disciplines both the body of the individual and the body of the population as a whole. In the age of neoliberalism, we are faced with a finanziarizzazione – to use Marazzi’s term – that is, a penetration of all spheres of life by financial mechanism which goes along with a simultaneous reduction of (welfare) state intervention. This penetration of different spheres of life means that the economic variables of the market, competition and entrepreneurship are successively implemented in previously non-economic relationships and processes. Value creation has become the all-encompassing target.2←10 | 11→

The neoliberal technology of government revolves around the central role of the market and its capacity for self-regulation, based on an individual micro-economy in which the values are no longer those ‘cold and abstract’ values of classical political economy, but the ‘warm and concrete’ values of the neoliberal subject. [...] It is the programme of the bio-economic turn of society, the economic subsumption of civil society, the economic appropriation of individual human life and human community by the value-creation process (Marazzi 2013, 43; translated by Y.T./H.B.).3

Accordingly, Vittoria Borsò concludes: “The life of each individual becomes capital. A precarious capital that risks at any time turning into its opposite, into a worthless, ‘naked’ life” (Borsò 2013, 21; translated by Y.T./H.B.).4 As a naked life without value, the precarious subject is then segregated from the community: “The persona oeconomica is the entity deemed worthy according to bioeconomic technologies and biopolitical Darwinism imposing itself as the natural logic of living. The torment for those who are ‘unworthy’, because they are precarious, is radical exclusion from the polis oeconomica. Letting die turns into collateral damage” (Borsò 2020, 341; translated by Y.T./H.B.).


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (October)
Scamming Hollywood Cinema Neoliberal Colonialism Crime Fiction Feminist Movements Mexican Theatre Corruption
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 246 pp., 8 fig. col., 2 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Yasmin Temelli (Volume editor) Hans Bouchard (Volume editor)

Yasmin Temelli is full professor of Romance Literatures, Cultural Studies (Spanish and French) as well as General Literature at the University of Siegen. Hans Bouchard is research assistant and lecturer at the Department of Romance Studies at the University of Siegen.


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248 pages