09 January 2020

BOOK: Alison ADAM, ed., Crime and the Construction of Forensic Objectivity from 1850 (London: Palgrave, 2020). ISBN 978-3-030-28836-5, 71.39 EUR

(Source: Routledge)

Routledge is publishing a new book on the history of forensic objectivity.  


This 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.


Alison Adam is Professor of Science Technology and Society in the Cultural, Communication and Computing Research Institute at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. She has worked at Lancaster University, UMIST and the University of Salford as well as spending a number of years in industry prior to her academic career. Her research has been located in science and technology studies over a period of nearly forty years. 

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