Impact of the Italian Language and Culture on the Amanda Knox Trials

Open Access
Mascelli, Andrew J
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Maria Rosa Truglio, Thesis Supervisor
  • Maria Rosa Truglio, Honors Advisor
  • Johanna Wagner, Faculty Reader
  • Italian
  • AmandaKnox
  • Trial
  • Legal
  • Culture
  • Perugia
  • Italy
On the afternoon of November 2nd, 2007 the body of Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student, was found in her residence in the central-Italian city of Perugia. Kercher shared this residence with a young American woman by the name of Amanda Knox as well as two young Italian women. Within a matter of days, authorities had detained multiple suspects on the grounds that Meredith Kercher had been the victim of a murder. Among the alleged involved parties was Knox herself. What followed for Knox was a contentious and lengthy legal battle spanning some four years. Knox and her then boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito would remain in prison with little recourse other than to abide by the legal ramifications of their position. Knox in particular found herself in a dangerous, unfamiliar and frightening situation. Her eventual exoneration and release in the fall of 2011 was an event I personally witnessed alongside several hundred onlookers outside a nondescript Italian courthouse on a chilly fall evening in the quaint hill city of Perugia. Sentiments ranged from quiet vindication of a young girl’s innocence to vocal outrage at the liberation of an accessory to murder. The purpose of this paper is to explore and analyze the circumstances of Knox’s time as a suspect in the murder trial, with special regard to the impact of a foreign language on her ability to navigate and properly respond to the demands made of her as a defendant; whether it restricted her ability to act in her own best interests; and whether it impacted the course of the legal proceedings. This paper will demonstrate how language and culture barriers can drastically alter the way in which an event (i.e. a trial) is both conducted and viewed by the world at large.