Roots: The Groundbreaking Series Reimagined Recap, Episode 1

This is the first of four daily recaps by Matthew Delmont, author of Making Roots: A Nation Captivated (coming August 2016) about the remake of Alex Haley’s Roots television miniseries airing on HISTORY Channel. If you have not seen the first episode yet, you may be spoiled.

Making Roots

After nearly forty years, Roots is back and the first episode of the History Channel’s reimagined Roots was very promising. The differences between the original series and this new series were apparent almost immediately. The episode opens with a voice-over from Laurence Fishburne, who plays Alex Haley, the author of Roots. This introduction is very brief (“This is how I heard about the boy, Kinte, and this is how I will tell you his story”), but it sets the tone that viewers should see Roots first and foremost as a story that will combine elements of fact and fiction.

At the same time, the producers have made it clear in promoting the new series that this version aims to be more historically accurate than the 1977 version. This comes through clearly in the first half-hour of the episode, where were see Kunta’s birth and manhood training in Gambia. Kunta’s village, Juffure, is a busy trading hub and Kunta considers going to a university in Timbuktu. This episode portrays eighteenth century West Africa as a much more advanced society than how it was presented in the original book or television series. Alex Haley knew about this more complex history, but he chose to portray Gambia as an African Eden. “I, we, need a place called Eden,” Haley said. “My people need a Plymouth Rock.” Another way the new series troubles this vision of an African Eden is by detailing the ways Africans would capture members of different ethnic groups and use or sell them as slaves. This is the fate that befalls Kunta when he is captured, sold to English slave traders, and branded with the initials of the slave ship, the Lord Ligonier, which will carry him and 139 other Africans to America.

What is particularly interesting in this opening segment is that the series does not rush to get familiar actors on screen. In the 1977 version, producer David Wolper thought that the show needed to get established stars on screen early to keep the audience’s attention. Cicely Tyson and Maya Angelou were in the first scene and the writers created the character of the slave ship captain so Ed Asner would be on screen in the first ten minutes. In the new Roots, by contrast, there are no established film or television stars in the opening segment and no white characters in the first half-hour. This is a bold way to open the series, but it allows viewers to be reintroduced to Kunta Kinte (played by Malachi Kirby), Omoro Kinte (played by Babatunde Olusanmokun), and others, while appreciating how these excellent actors are creating new versions of the characters.

One of the challenges with any remake is how to create narrative tension when audiences already know the basic story. This was especially true with the Middle Passage scene. Viewers know that Kunta Kinte has to survive the voyage for the story to continue. Viewers also know Kunta will be a slave in America, so when the enslaved Africans plan to take over the ship, viewers know that the revolt cannot be successful. Still the scene works because of the details. Kunta holds hands with the man next to him on the ship while they discuss the plan to fight back. This is a tender and touching moment amidst the swirl of violence and inhumanity on the ship. And the scenes where the enslaved women and men pass codes to each other through songs, nicely show the cunning and resistance that led to many revolts among enslaved people. I knew they were not going to be able to overtake the ship, but as the chanting intensifies (“Oh my brothers, dance!”) I still got chills.

Parts of this episode felt rushed, which is to be expected of a story that covers over a hundred years. The scene I found especially worrisome was when an unnamed enslaved woman offers herself to Kunta. We have not been introduced to her and do not learn anything else about her other than that she is willing to have sexual relations with Kunta. The scene is an occasion for Kunta to say that he does not want his children to be born into slavery, but there must be a way to convey this without having an unnamed character throw herself at him.

The most iconic scene in the original series is the whipping scene, where Kunta Kinte is whipped until he answers to his slave name, Toby. One interesting thing about this scene is that it is not in Haley’s book; it was imagined and written by television screenwriter Bill Blinn. The whipping is the climax of the first episode of the new Roots and, four decades later, it remains a powerful and disturbing scene. Connolly, the Waller plantation overseer (played by Tony Curran), is evil and sadistic. As he beats Kunta he demands, “Say your name so you know this isn’t Africa, this is Virginia; that you are the property of Waller no different than the hogs and horses.” Television is more violent today than it was in 1977 and I was not sure how this scene would work in the era of Game of Thrones. The scene works because the violence is connected to the narrative (“Your name is your shield” is one of the taglines for the series) and because, while this scene is fictionalized, it references countless historical acts of violence against enslaved people. In short, the stakes are higher here than in an ordinary television drama.

Let me end with my favorite moment from this first episode. Kunta is singing a song that he has learned from his mother in Gambia. Fiddler (played by Forest Whitaker) says he remembers his grandmother playing a similar melody and says, “I’ve been chasing that tune for a long time.” Fiddler asks what the tune is to which Kunta replies, “the song is mine, no one in this place can have it.” Fiddler assures Kunta, “I can wait ‘til you share it with me.” The scene is only a couple of minutes long, but it is beautifully acted and speaks to the themes of culture, memory, and loss that are at play in Roots. The quiet moments are what I appreciated most about the original Roots. I am happy to see that the new Roots is creating three-dimensional black characters to reimagine this remarkable story.


Coming 8/2/16: Making Roots: A Nation Captivated; to pre-order a copy, visit your local bookstore, or order online at IndieboundAmazonBarnes & Noble, or UC Press (save 30% at; enter discount code 16M4197 at checkout).

matt delmontMatthew F. Delmont is Associate Professor of History at Arizona State University and the author of Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation and The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock ’n’ Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia.

Introducing Making Roots

By Matthew F. Delmont, author of The Nicest Kids in Town, Why Busing Failed, and Making Roots

When Alex Haley’s book Roots was published by Doubleday in 1976 it became an immediate bestseller. The television series, broadcast by ABC in 1977, became the most popular miniseries of all time, captivating over a hundred million Americans. As a scholar of popular culture and African American history I wanted to research and write this book because we know remarkably little about one of the most recognizable cultural productions of all time. One could fill a shelf with books on recent critically lauded television shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men, but Making Roots: A Nation Captivated is the first book length study of this unprecedented cultural phenomenon.

Alex Haley and his collaborators left a fascinating paper trail that shows, sometimes on a day-by-day basis, how Roots took shape from the early 1960s through the late 1970s. In researching Making Roots I examined tens of thousands of pages of Haley’s letters, notes, and manuscript drafts in the collections housed at the University of Tennessee, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and Goodwin College. At the University of Southern California, the archived papers of David Wolper and Stan Margulies offer similar insights into how these television producers adapted Haley’s story for the screen. In Making Roots, I foreground the voices and perspectives of the people who played a role in creating Roots: Haley, literary agent Paul Reynolds, Doubleday editors Ken McCormick and Lisa Drew, Haley’s editor Murray Fisher, Wolper, Margulies, screenwriter Bill Blinn, and actors like LeVar Burton, John Amos, and Leslie Uggams.

Alex Haley never published another book after Roots. He loved talking to people but found himself overwhelmed by the praise, criticism, and legal troubles Roots generated. “He made history talk,” Jesse Jackson said of Alex Haley at the author’s funeral in 1992. “He lit up the long night of slavery. He gave our grandparents personhood. He gave Roots to the rootless.” In this light, pointing out the flaws in Haley’s family history feels like telling your grandmother she is lying. Fortunately, Haley’s fabrications are only a small part of a much larger, more interesting, and more complicated story of the making of Roots. Making Roots tells that story.

Coming 8/2/16: Making Roots: A Nation Captivated; to pre-order a copy, visit your local bookstore, or order online at IndieboundAmazonBarnes & Noble, or UC Press (save 30% at; enter discount code 16M4197 at checkout).

Matthew F. Delmont is Associate Professor of History at Arizona State University and the author of Why Busing Failed: Race, Media, and the National Resistance to School Desegregation and The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock ’n’ Roll, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in 1950s Philadelphia, both published by UC Press.

Beyond the Walled City—Havana

UC Press is pleased to present Beyond the Walled City: Colonial Exclusion in Havana, the first book by Guadalupe García. Havana has recently become the center of media attention as one of the world’s most rapidly changing cities. Beyond the Walled City chronicles its growth and expansion. It begins with the colonial founding of Havana in the sixteenth century and extends through the end of the US military occupation in 1902. The multiple maps included in the book visually illustrate how local and global forces shaped the topography of the contemporary city.

Through her study of Havana, García shows us how Spanish colonialism in Cuba relied heavily on the hidden spaces of the city. It was in and through these spaces that empires clashed long before nations were ever formed, but not before city residents defined the terms of their own local belonging. What readers will discover through this book is how colonial governing practices are connected to broader and contemporary debates on urbanization, and how the regulation of public space continues to define how cities are experienced. With global eyes focused on Havana, this is a timely book for understanding the contemporary city, as well as the colonial development of cities throughout in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Guadalupe García is Assistant Professor of History at Tulane University.

50 Years Ago in New York City: Latin American Cinema at LASA 2016

By Paul A. Schroeder Rodríguez, author of Latin American Cinema: A Comparative History

2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Latin American Studies Association, the largest organization of Latin Americanists in the world. Appropriately, the meeting is taking place in New York City, site of the initial congress, with the theme “LASA at 50.” In keeping with this theme and this place, the Film Studies Group and the Visual Studies Group organized a screening of “The Life, Death and Assumption of Lupe Vélez” at The Film-Makers’ Cooperative last week.

Film still close-up of Lupe
Mario Montez in a film still from “Lupe” by José Rodríguez Soltero (1966)

Also shot in New York City exactly fifty years ago, “Lupe” is a tribute to Mexican film star Lupe Vélez. Directed by Puerto Rican filmmaker José Rodríguez Soltero, it is clearly rooted in New York City’s underground cinema movement of the 1960s: it is visually striking, with bold, saturated colors; and narratively, it is every bit as transgressive as comparable films by Andy Warhol and Jack Smith. Its soundtrack, on the other hand, and the superb acting by drag queen Mario Montez, also root it to Latin America and Spain. Some of its parts seemed to dialogue with Mexican musicals of the 1950s called cabareteras. Others seemed to dialogue with Cuban Santiago Álvarez’s agit-prop newsreels of the 1960s. And I would not be surprised to learn that Almodóvar was inspired by Lupe when he shot “High Heels“.

The experience was unforgettable, a reminder that Latin American cinema, whether made in Latin America or in New York City, is a triangulated cinema defined by the intense circulation of images, themes, and sounds between North America, Europe, and Latin America itself.

Schoeder RodríguezPaul A. Schroeder Rodríguez is Professor and Chair of the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. The author of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea: The Dialectics of a Filmmaker, he has published extensively on Latin American cinema in leading academic journals.

Únase a la reunión de la asociación de estudios latinoamericanos 2016!

University of California Press is exhibiting at the 2016 Latin American Studies Association Annual Meeting! The meeting convenes May 27-30 in New York, NY.

Please visit us our booth at the New York Hilton Midtown for the following offers:

  • 40% conference discount on all orders
  • Request exam copies to consider for course adoption
  • Enter for a chance to win $100 worth of books by subscribing to UC Press eNews

Our Latin American Studies studies list is comprised of a broad selection of titles ideal for research and courses. Our groundbreaking authors and award winning titles explore topics within history, immigration, labor, and sociology.

We’re also happy to extend our congratulations to Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos for publishing this year’s winning article for the LASA Mexico Humanities Essay Award. During the 2016 LASA conference, the award-winning article will be available as a free download: Guadalupe and the Castas: The Power of a Singular Colonial Mexican Painting by Sarah Cline (Vol. 31, No. 2, Summer 2015).

Please see our conference program ad for our latest offerings.

Follow @LASACONGRESS and #lasa2016 for current meeting news.


Press Roundup for Arlene Davila’s El Mall

If you’re attending the LASA 2016 Congress in New York this year (or even if you aren’t) you’ll want to stop by the UC Press booth and check out Arlene Dávila’s newest book, El Mall. In her book, Arlene asks what the shopping mall boom in Latin American really means on the ground, and shows how class is increasingly becoming defined by the shopping habits of normal people. In the 5 months since El Mall was published, it has received abundant praise from publicity from both academic, activist, and popular news media.



Americas Quarterly has written:

This is a substantial read for anyone who is seeking to better understand how economic development in Latin America — and Colombia in particular — can be a starting point from which to contest and reflect the fragile ground on which ideas of modernity and progress, as embodied in spaces such as the mall, reside. El Mall is a fascinating demonstration of how the most material aspects of culture are often prisms of the unseen forces of social and cultural transformation.

On March 15, Arlene questioned the unchecked growth of shopping malls NPR‘s Marketplace:

“You’re talking about a privately, public policy becoming the de facto way people are organizing cities,” Davila said. “Who has access to deciding how our communities and our cities should run when you have megadevelopments that are basically unchecked, making all the decisions?”

More recently, the podcast Intelatin, distributed by Latino Rebels, wrote:

Because our society in the Americas runs on marginalization, cities throughout the Americas are becoming mallified, and the public keeps losing more and more public space. This vicious cycle of purchasing in malls robs us of civil rights and entitlements that the private sector obfuscates in tandem with “larger policies, politics and ideologies that profit from economic inequality and of its many outcomes.” Dra. Dávila wrote her book to incite the public to claim ownership of public space.

El Mall and many other great new books on Latin America can be found at the UC Press booth at LASA 2016.

Arlene Dávila is Professor of Anthropology and Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. She is the author of numerous books, including Barrio Dreams and Latinos Inc.


The United States of Zion—Looking at Jewish American Identities

May is Jewish American Heritage Month, a celebration of the rich history of Jewish contributions to American culture in a multitude of fields. Our forthcoming book, Judaisms: A Twenty-First-Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities, publishing in June 2016, looks at what it means to be a Jew in the twenty-first century. In the below passage from the book, author Aaron Hahn Tapper weaves together his personal experiences with historical representations of Jewish identity.

Judaisms cover

I was in one of the oldest synagogues in California, Congregation Sherith Israel, with sixteen students from the University of San Francisco, the Jesuit Catholic university where I teach. Each week, the class met at a different site of importance to Bay Area Jewish communities. Today we were at one of the area’s many Reform-affiliated synagogues, originally founded by Orthodox Jews.

One of the core ideas of the course is that communal identities are performed, a phenomenon that manifests in a number of different ways. For the Jewish community—because people consider their Jewish identities to be a reflection of their culture, ethnicity, nationality, political orientation, race, religion, and more—there are, perhaps, more ways to enact their identities, their Jewishness—more ways to be a Jew—than there are for other groups.

One way that Jews have been able to exist, and even thrive, is by reconstructing itself time and again, to habitually acclimate from place to place. More nomadic than most, Jews have had a transmutable notion of the revelation at Mount Sinai. Their collective understanding of this event has shifted from one form to others, from an extraordinary, cosmic experience with God on Mount Sinai to the words found on a Torah scroll.

Another way lies in their long-standing adaptation of the idea of Zion, also known as the “Promised Land.” The mutability of this concept is exemplified in Sherith Israel by a stained glass picture on the upper wall of the synagogue’s main sanctuary. Originally unveiled in 1905, it depicts Moses and the biblical Israelites standing at the foot of a mountain. Moses has the Ten Commandments in hand, while the Israelite leaders are carrying flags, representing, one assumes, the twelve tribes of Israel.

Figure 3.1: Moses holding the Ten Commandments . . . in Yosemite. This stained glass window is found in the main sanctuary of Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco.
Figure 3.1: Moses holding the Ten Commandments . . . in Yosemite. This stained glass window is found in the main sanctuary of Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco.

But on closer inspection, one sees that the flags do not depict ancient Israelite symbols (indeed, the colors and designs were made up); perhaps the most obvious nonbiblical flag is that of the United States of America. Nor are Moses and the Israelites standing at the foot of Mount Sinai. Instead, their backdrop is the Sierra Nevada mountain range, with two of Yosemite National Park’s most iconic peaks, Half Dome and El Capitan, rising over each one of Moses’s shoulders. The people in this powerful image are not in the Middle East but Northern California; Moses is facing away from Yosemite and the physical city of Jerusalem far to the east, and toward San Francisco, a new Promised Land.

In this stained glass picture, Zion has been re-created yet again, this time in the Golden State. For the early members of this synagogue, California—not New York, not the United States, and not the Land of Israel—was the Promised Land, San Francisco the new Jerusalem.

Photo by Barbara Ries © 2013
Photo by Barbara Ries © 2013

Aaron J. Hahn Tapper is the Mae and Benjamin Swig Associate Professor in Jewish Studies and the Founder and Director of the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.

Serendipity and Sea Otters

It’s International Otter Awareness Day! In honor of our semiaquatic, aquatic, and marine friends, we’ve posted a particularly otter-centric excerpt from Serendipity: An Ecologist’s Quest to Understand Nature. The book chronicles acclaimed ecologist Jim Estes’ otterly important early research of sea otters and kelp forests off the coast of Alaska, and how that research would eventually inform his entire career. Read more below, and click here to learn about IOAD events happening today around the world.




“Not the end of the world but you can see it from here” were the first words I saw as I exited the DC 6 aircraft at Shemya and entered a small building with my colleagues and a few other travelers, most of whom were in transit back to Anchorage. After the plane and passengers had departed, a surprised-looking airman asked why we hadn’t left with them. When I told him we were the biologists from Amchitka, he went on high alert. We were taken to a small, windowless room and put under armed guard while the Air Force tried to sort out what was going on and what to do with us. My colleagues and I thought it was funny but the guards didn’t share our humor. Eventually we were taken to see the base commander, a serious-looking full-bird colonel who was clearly put out by our presence and not someone to be trifled with. The colonel glared at us from across his desk, telling us that while he had confirmed our authorization to visit Shemya, he also considered us a risk to military security and a threat to morale. But after this initial bluster he warmed and seemed to soften, expressing interest in what we were studying and offering to show us around the island.

Finally, at the end of the day, we walked to the shore for a brief look around. In the fading light I was struck by two observations—the numerous tests of beach-cast sea urchins that were much larger than anything I had ever seen dead or alive at Amchitka, and a green hue to the beach sand. These were the first hints that sea otters mattered, and that I was on the track of something exciting.

The next day we were up early. John and Charlie prepared for a visit to the rocky shore while Phil and I geared up for a dive. We had to assemble and inflate the skiff, find some gasoline for the outboard motor, fill the scuba tanks, and locate a safe place to launch. The wind and sea were calm and so on this first dive we decided to simply swim out from shore. Although the water was clear, I couldn’t see the sea floor until I slipped into the water and dropped below the surface. When I looked down at the sea floor, I was stunned by the vast numbers of urchins and absence of kelp. I looked at Phil and saw what struck me as an incredulous, impish grin. I swam out into deeper water and then a short distance up and down the shore, trying to get a sense of whether what I was seeing was unusual or typical of the area. Every place I looked was the same—large and abundant sea urchins over a seafloor of crustose coralline algae with little or no kelp. After almost a year of diving at Amchitka, I immediately understood why Shemya was so different. In the absence of sea otter predation, sea urchins had increased in size and numbers, and the larger and more abundant sea urchins had eaten the kelp. This was my “aha” moment, a profound realization that would set a path for the remainder of my life. I sat up most of the night, thinking and jotting down notes about what I had seen and what it meant.

My mind was buzzing with ideas but the immediate problem was to document what I had seen at Shemya in an objective and rigorous manner. I had 5 days left to work at Shemya and the notoriously unpredictable Aleutian Islands weather might turn for the worst at any time. My plan was to measure the density and size structure of the sea urchin population and the percent cover and species composition of fleshy macroalgae at 3 depths—10, 30 and 60 ft. I would do this at several sites, time and weather permitting.

Save 40% with UC Press during the North American Patristics Society Annual Meeting

The 2016 North American Patristics Society annual meeting convenes May 26–28 in Chicago, IL.

Please come by the UC Press booth to browse display copies of new titles and pick up a flier to save 40% online with discount code 16E8104. The discount code expires June 12, 2016.

Attendees can also learn about Christianity in Late Antiquity, the official book series of the North American Patristics Society, plus peruse a copy of the first recently-published title.

NAPS attendees may also meet the editors of our newest journal launching in 2017, Studies in Late Antiquity. Several editors and editorial board members will be at the Saturday Coffee Break (10:40am–11:00am) to answer questions about the new journal and offer information for submitting papers.

View the final conference program, and follow along using #NAPS2016.

Forensic Evidence: Reality and Fiction

By Corinna Kruse, author of The Social Life of Forensic Evidence

I have a confession to make: I find CSI (the long-running TV show Crime Scene Investigation) much less interesting than the non-fictional criminal justice system.

Kruse.SocialLifeOfForensicEvidenceI do admit, it feels a little unappreciative to write this. I’m quite sure that CSI’s popularity has helped my work find audiences, both within and without academia. But it’s no less true. Studying the (Swedish) criminal justice system from the inside – at least, from the considerable part of its insides that I was graciously given access to – has made me realize just how much more interesting non-fictional forensics are.

This difference, I think, boils down to complexity–complexity that I find fascinating and complexity that the criminal justice system has and CSI doesn’t. For example, on CSI, the same (fictional) crime scene investigators do lots of different things. They go to crime scenes and collect traces, they analyze these traces – and quite different kinds of traces, at that – in the laboratory, they talk to witnesses, and they cause suspects to confess in the face of overwhelming evidence.

In non-fictional criminal justice, these different tasks are done by different experts: in the Swedish criminal justice system, crime scenes are examined by crime scene technicians, traces are analyzed by forensic scientists – different forensic scientists for different types of evidence – and witnesses, plaintiffs, and suspects are interviewed by police investigators. What is more, work on a case is led and coordinated by an investigation leader, often a prosecutor but sometimes a police investigator. Other criminal justice systems may differ in organization and labor division – not all forensic scientists are state employees like the Swedish ones are, for example – but what they have in common is that forensic evidence (and criminal justice) is produced through the cooperation of a number of professions.

This is unavoidable. Regardless of the dismissiveness with which CSI treats crime work outside of the laboratory and crime scene, all these tasks require quite different skills and competences. Knowing where and how to find and recover relevant traces from a crime scene is a different thing entirely from analyzing them, or from persuading a witness, plaintiff, or suspect to want to talk to the police. So is producing suspects in the first place – which, on CSI, is, not surprisingly, done by means of forensic evidence.

To me, these different competences and skills are fascinating. And what I find, if possible, even more fascinating are the different perspectives that come with these competences and skills: to crime scene technicians, forensic evidence is the hoped-for end product of their examination of the crime scene – but certainly not all putative crime scenes yield decisive evidence. To forensic scientists, forensic evidence is most often a single trace, and, because forensic scientists only see cases in which forensic evidence is expected to provide essential answers, they regard it as very important for criminal justice. To police investigators, forensic evidence is a tool to be used in (mainly) interrogations. And to prosecutors as well as judges, forensic evidence is but one piece, and not necessarily the most important piece, in a large puzzle. Their different perspectives may at times cause friction, but also that makes their cooperation much more interesting than CSI’s rather one-dimensional production of forensic evidence.

Another complexity in the criminal justice system has to do with uncertainty. What forensic science does on CSI is to produce absolute certainty – in other words to eliminate any and all uncertainty – just by virtue of it being “scientific.” This scientificness seems to mainly consist of the main characters’ assertion that they are scientists and that, in consequence, evidence speaks to them.

No doubt a great arrangement. But non-fictional forensic evidence does not speak, neither to “scientists” nor to anyone else, and absolute certainty is unattainable. Instead, the criminal justice system must deal with inescapable uncertainties: there is the uncertainty whether or not the site the crime scene technicians examine has been the scene of a crime – the presumed crime may have been committed elsewhere or not at all. In addition, at the time the crime scene is being examined, there often is quite a lot of uncertainty about which crime may have been committed and which kind of questions – and thus which kind of evidence – will become salient later in the investigation. Then, there is the uncertainty whether a match between, say, a fiber from the crime scene and one from the suspect’s shirt is due to coincidence or their presence at the scene. There is the uncertainty whether a witness (or plaintiff, or suspect) is telling the truth – and which truth, at that. Even when they’re truthful about what they have seen, they may still misremember, and everyone sees the world through their frame of reference. And finally, there is always the uncertainty whether more work might produce more evidence that might change the outcome of the case. Seeing my interlocutors deal with these uncertainties and still manage to achieve certainty beyond a reasonable doubt in many cases has been much more fascinating than watching CSI achieve absolute certainty.

Of course, it would be difficult to convey all of these complexities in a TV series. And in this case, at least I certainly prefer reality over fiction.

Corinna Kruse is a lecturer in the Department of Thematic Studies—Technology and Social Change at Linköping University.