This Is a Taboo Business: The Murderabilia Market from Sacred to Profane

  • Oriana Binik


This chapter focuses on murderabilia and is based on 10 interviews with collectors. The first question relates to commodification: can we buy evil? It emerges that collectors perceive murderabilia simply as a kind of rarer memorabilia and are interested in its investment value, viewing the objects for their symbolic and emotional qualities. Murderabilia can take on the characteristic of a commodity amongst commodities which gives people the sensation of buying and enjoying evil.

We can also ask ourselves if, in the case of murderabilia, commodification can coexist with a social bond (the two sides of the carnival of crime coin). In this case, collectors experience a kind of proximity, especially to what Bataille called the ‘sacred left’ which does not appear to be compatible with social bonds. Whilst a number of exceptions are considered and analysed, murderabilia collectors refuse ‘feeling rules’ and criticise attempts to limit their enjoyment and it is partly for this reason that attempts have been made to use the law to limit the phenomenon.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oriana Binik
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly

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