Who Took the Outhouse: Institutionalized Racism and the Culture of Tradition

Frederick G. Ford, Prairie View A & M University

Cultural Criminology examines the criminal identities and events that are indoctrinated with the meaning, style, and symbolic production of an underprivileged group. The use of collective perceptions, situated meanings, and social control helps define culture as crime, but may also produce harmful myths and stereotypes. Unchecked it can oppress, suppress or dominate less powerful groups. This paper explores the development of a criminal subculture at the oldest university in Texas, Texas A&M, through the tradition known as "Aggie Bonfire." Here Aggies created a collective aesthetic environment of crime with symbolism and style. Poor rural white students from Texas sponsored a well-known and much loved tradition with less well-known racism and crime. Finally, this paper will examine the everyday perceptions of the community, the operations and events surrounding bonfire, and the historical effects of this cultural enterprise.

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Updated 05/20/2006