“This Place Is Death!” Precarious Lives and Places in Winter’s Bone (2010) and Ozark (2017)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


In recent literary and popular cultural texts, the pseudo-Southern region, the Ozarks, have figured prominently as a gothic site of violence and depravity. The Netflix original series _Ozark_ (2017) and the 2010 film _Winter's Bone_ (based on Daniel Woodrell's 2006 novel by the same name) portray the region as a precarious, carceral place. Many critics read these texts as hopeful, however, aside from main characters sometimes overcoming precaritization, the people inhabiting these worlds have no other opportunity than crime. These texts construct the Ozarks as a cultural space that for complex historical and social reasons has come to signify poverty, violence, substance abuse, and crime. The Ozarks is a _hyperprecarious_ place imagined popularly as a “death world” (Mbembe 2003), which produces desperate and anxious inhabitants that react to their precaritization with spite, which in turn becomes a weapon against oppression and desperation. Spite is a complex affect that cannot be deciphered easily. Inherent in the emotion is resistance, malice, and a disregard for consequences and it is an oppositional affect arising out of desperation, fear, or anxiety. The theoretical implications of spite in relation to precaritization are therefore wide-ranging and complex. Thus, building on Sianne Ngai’s archive of ugly feelings (_Ugly Feelings_ 2005), this paper explores the usage of spite as a resistance strategy and survival mechanism for the precaritized people in the indie film _Winter’s Bone_ and Netflix’s _Ozark_.
Period27 Mar 2018
Event titlePopular Culture Association/American Culture Association
Event typeConference
LocationIndianapolis, United States
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Popular Culture
  • Populærkultur
  • television drama
  • Netflix
  • Whiteness
  • Precarity
  • Precarious lives
  • death worlds
  • Violence
  • Ugly feelings
  • affect
  • Daniel Woodrell
  • Winter's Bone
  • US South
  • Ozarks
  • Appalachia