Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Adam and friends on crime and forensic objectivity

Alison Adam (Sheffield Hallam University, UK) has edited Crime and the Construction of Forensic Objectivity from 1850, now out with Palgrave Macmillan (2020). From the press:
coverThis book charts the historical development of "forensic objectivity" through an analysis of the ways in which objective knowledge of crimes, crime scenes, crime materials and criminals is achieved. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, with authors drawn from law, history, sociology and science and technology studies, this work shows how forensic objectivity is constructed through detailed crime history case studies, mainly in relation to murder, set in Scotland, England, Germany, Sweden, USA and Ireland. Starting from the mid-nineteenth century and continuing to the present day, the book argues that a number of developments were crucial. These include: the beginning of crime photography, the use of diagrams and models specially constructed for the courtroom so jurors could be "virtual witnesses," probabilistic models of certainty, the professionalization of medical and scientific expert witnesses and their networks, ways of measuring, recording and developing criminal records and the role of the media, particularly newspapers in reporting on crime, criminals and legal proceedings and their part in the shaping of public opinion on crime. This essential title demonstrates the ways in which forensic objectivity has become a central concept in relation to criminal justice over a period spanning 170 years.
Chapter line-up after the break:

  • Alison Adam, "Crime and the Construction of Forensic Objectivity from 1850: Introduction"
  • Amy Helen Bell, "Bodies in the Bed: English Crime Scene Photographs as Documentary Images"
  • Alexa Neale, "Murder in Miniature: Reconstructing the Crime Scene in the English Courtroom"
  • Alison Adam, "The Biggar Murder: 'A Triumph for Forensic Odontology'"
  • Corinna Kruse, "Making Forensic Evaluations: Forensic Objectivity in the Swedish Criminal Justice System"
  • Kelly-Ann Couzens, "The Police Surgeon, Medico-Legal Networks and Criminal Investigation in Victorian Scotland"
  • Clare Sanford-Couch et al., " '13 Yards Off the Big Gate and 37 Yards Up the West Walls.' Crime Scene Investigation in Mid-nineteenth Century Newcastle upon Tyne"
  • Laura M. Sellers et al., "The Construction of Forensic Knowledge in Victorian Yorkshire: Dr. Thomas Scattergood and His Casebooks, 1856-1897"
  • Nicholas Duvall, "Reporting Violent Death: Networks of Expertise and the Scottish Post-mortem"
  • Rian Sutton et al., "Detecting the Murderess: Newspaper Representations of Women Convicted of Murder in New York City, London, and Ireland, 1880-1914"
  • Heather Wolffram, " 'Children's Lies': The Weimar Press as Psychological Expert in Child Sex Abuse Trials"
  • Angela Sutton-Vane, "Murder Cases, Trunks and the Entanglement of Ethics: The Preservation and Display of Scenes of Crime Material"

Further information is available here.

--Mitra Sharafi