Friday, May 3, 2019

Burney, Hamlin and friends on Global Forensic Cultures

Out now with Johns Hopkins University Press is Global Forensic Cultures: Making Fact and Justice in the Modern Era, edited by Ian Burney, University of Manchester and Christopher Hamlin, University of Notre Dame. From the publisher: 

Contemporary forensic science has achieved unprecedented visibility as a compelling example of applied expertise. But the common public view—that we are living in an era of forensic deliverance, one exemplified by DNA typing—has masked the reality: that forensic science has always been unique, problematic, and contested. Global Forensic Cultures aims to rectify this problem by recognizing the universality of forensic questions and the variety of practices and institutions constructed to answer them.
Groundbreaking essays written by leaders in the field address the complex and contentious histories of forensic techniques. Contributors also examine the co-evolution of these techniques with the professions creating and using them, with the systems of governance and jurisprudence in which they are used, and with the socioeconomic, political, racial, and gendered settings of that use. Exploring the profound effect of "location" (temporal and spatial) on the production and enactment of forms of forensic knowledge during the century before CSI became a household acronym, the book explores numerous related topics, including the notion of burden of proof, changing roles of experts and witnesses, the development and dissemination of forensic techniques and skills, the financial and practical constraints facing investigators, and cultures of forensics and of criminality within and against which forensic practitioners operate.
Covering sites of modern and historic forensic innovation in the United States, Europe, and farther-flung imperial and global settings, these essays tell stories of blood, poison, corpses; tracking persons and attesting documents; truth-making, egregious racism, and sinister surveillance. Each chapter is a finely grained case study. Collectively, Global Forensic Cultures supplies a historical foundation for the critical appraisal of contemporary forensic institutions which has begun in the wake of DNA-based exonerations.
Table of Contents after the jump:

Introduction: Forensic Facts, the Guts of Rights
Christopher Hamlin

Part I. Evidence and Epistemology

Chapter 1. The Value(s) of Methods: Method Selection in German Forensic Toxicology in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century
Marcus B. Carrier

Chapter 2. The Imperial Serologist and Punitive Self-Harm: Bloodstains and Legal Pluralism in British India
Mitra Sharafi 

Chapter 3. Handwriting Analysis as a Dynamic Artisanal Science: The Hardless Detective Dynasty and the Forensic Cultures of the British Raj
Projit Bihari Mukharji 

Chapter 4. Spatters and Lies: Contrasting Forensic Cultures in the Trials of Sam Sheppard, 1954-66
Ian Burney

Part II. Practices of Power and Policing

Chapter 5. Death and Empire: Medicolegal Investigations and Practice across the British Empire 
Jeffrey Jentzen

Chapter 6. Fingerprints and the Politics of Scientific Policing in Early Twentieth-Century Spain
José Ramón Bertomeu Sánchez

Chapter 7. From Bedouin Trackers to Doberman Pinschers: The Rise of Dog Tracking as Forensic Evidence in Palestine
Binyamin Blum 

Chapter 8. "DNA Evidence Cannot Lie": Forensic Science, Truth Regimes, and Civic Epistemology in Thai History
Quentin (Trais) Pearson 

Part III. Training and Transmitting
Chapter 9. Cleaning Out the Mortuary and the Medicolegal Text: Ambriose Tardieu's Modernizing Enterprise
Bruno Bertherat 

Chapter 10. The Strange Science: Tracking and Detection in the Late Nineteenth-Century Punjab
Gagan Preet Singh

Chapter 11. Forensic Knowledge and Forensic Networks in Britain's Empire: The Case of Sydney Smith
Heather Wolffram 

Afterword: A Tale of Two Cities? Locating the History of Forensic Science and Medicine in Contemporary Forensic Reform Discourse
Simon A. Cole 

Further information is available here.

-Mitra Sharafi