Capital domicide: home and murder in the mid-century metropolis

Neale, Alexa Hannah Leah (2016) Capital domicide: home and murder in the mid-century metropolis. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis examines experiences in domestic spaces in London 1930 to 1970 on a case-study basis, and through them explores the meanings of home more generally in the period.

This study is unique in using case files for murder trials at the Central Criminal Court, also known as the Old Bailey, as a source for this topic, archive documents that include photographs and plans alongside rich descriptions of everyday domestic and urban life and the use of home spaces. This is an area notoriously difficult to study because of the scarcity of sources that combine visual and descriptive information, particularly sources that can be described as ‘actual’ rather than ‘ideal’ or ‘aspirational’.

It focuses on the urban and suburban areas of the capital, specifically the area under the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court and Metropolitan Police, the producers of the sources used.

Informed by Social and Cultural Historical and Geographical approaches, this thesis concentrates on the ways homes were interpreted by the authors of the documents and their relationship to ideas about home in wider society. It argues that a circular relationship existed in which assumptions by police and judiciary about class, gender, ‘race’ and sexuality influenced the ways people’s homes were ‘read’ and the way evidence was collected from domestic crime scenes. These readings informed perceptions of residents’ capability for respectable domestic life, and of the culpability of victims, the guilt of defendants, and the veracity of witnesses’ evidence. Further, verdicts and sentencing were then reported on and shared in ways that had impact on later crimes, homes, and their interpretation.

By analysing the processes that created the archived documents, this thesis challenges the assumptions embedded within them. It finds that social, cultural and economic capital were used by people to negotiate privacy, comfort and domesticity in their homes.

In these ways, this thesis both makes an original contribution to studies of home, and describes and justifies a method and approach to crime sources that can be applied to a variety of other topics.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain > DA020 England > DA670 Local history and description > DA675 London
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2016 14:37
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:37

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