Framing a murder: crime scene photographs in mid-twentieth-century London

Neale, Alexa Hannah Leah (2016) Framing a murder: crime scene photographs in mid-twentieth-century London. In: 5th British Crime Historians Symposium, 7-9 October 2016, University of Edinburgh.

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This paper uses case files for murder trials at the Old Bailey in the mid-twentieth century to examine the ways in which police, judicial system, and press ‘read’ and represented home spaces that were also scenes of crime. I argue that contemporary imaginings of the ideal home influenced recording and interpretation of homes, creating bias against victims and defendants alike who failed to meet or maintain a domestic ideal.

Changes in police practices including development of forensics and trace analysis were developing apace in this period, pushing homicide investigations into the laboratory. However, this paper argues that these techniques were slow to overtake more established readings of home spaces in cases of domestic murder. Rather the ways that people lived in their homes and organised them remained key to police in determining a narrative that explained who killed, why, and how criminal or culpable they were.

I explore the ways in which police, court and press interpreted and explained the scenes of domestic murders, highlighting evidence of strategies for negotiating comfort, privacy, security and safety, in places inhabited by people for whom the ‘ideal’ of the suburban semi was less accessible.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain > DA020 England > DA129 By period > DA300 Modern, 1485- > DA566 20th century
Depositing User: Alexa Hannah Leah Neale
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2016 13:05
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 13:05
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