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Criminology Seminar Series - In Crime's Archive: The Cultural Afterlife of Evidence

Venue: Birkbeck Main Building, MAL G15

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In Crime’s Archive: The Cultural Afterlife of Evidence

Speaker: Professor Katherine Biber (Faculty of Law, University of Technology, Sydney)

Abstract: In my new book In Crime’s Archive: The Cultural Afterlife of Evidence (Routledge 2019), I explore what happens to criminal evidence after the conclusion of the trial. Formally regarded as part of the court record, and subject to the rules of evidence within the trial, beyond the trial this material has aroused the interest of artists, publishers, historians, curators and journalists who wish to access and use this material for a wide range of purposes, some of which might be transgressive, dangerous or insensitive. I describe these post-evidentiary uses as crime’s ‘afterlife’, and investigate what it means for evidence to survive, and even thrive, after its legal use has expired.

The presentation will show examples of criminal evidence now experiencing a cultural afterlife, drawing examples from the criminal and coronial proceedings following the death of Azaria Chamberlain, crime exhibitions in popular museums, and a collection of forensic doll houses known as the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Exploring the utility of concepts associated with the archive – transparency, secrecy, destruction and obfuscation – this presentation asks legal, ethical and aesthetic questions about what is at stake in opening crime’s archive.

About the Speaker

Katherine Biber is a legal scholar, criminologist and historian at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Her work examines criminal evidence, documentation, visual culture and photography in law. She is author of Captive Images: Race, Crime, Photography (Routledge 2007) and In Crime’s Archive: The Cultural Afterlife of Evidence (Routledge 2019). She is co-editor of The Lindy Chamberlain Case (ASP 2009) and Evidence and the Archive: Ethics, Aesthetics and Emotion (Routledge 2017). Her new project is a legal history of the Aboriginal outlaw, Jimmy Governor.

About the Criminology Seminar Series

In line with the School of Law, Birkbeck's research and teaching ethos, the Criminology Seminar Series aims to provide a platform for critical and interdisciplinary research, showcasing prominent and path-breaking research on crime, criminal justice and related themes by scholars from within and beyond Birkbeck. The series is convened by Dr Sappho Xenakis, School of Law, Birkbeck.

Attendance to the events is free but registration is required. Talks from the 2018/19 series will be avaible for download via the website. Find out more about the series here. The hashtag for the event is #BBKCrimSeries.

This event is free however booking is required via this page.

Latecomers to the event are not guaranteed entry. Please be advised that photographs may be taken at the event. Please note that this booking is through the 3rd party service Eventbrite and by making this booking you are a customer of Eventbrite.

Please contact us if you have any access requirements. More details of accessibility at Birkbeck venues can be found here.

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