A cultural history of forensic science. In this talk Dr Willemijn Ruberg will introduce her research project ‘Forensic Culture. A Comparative Analysis of Forensic Practices in Europe, 1930-2000’, funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant (2018-2023).
The project starts from the idea that cultural ideas and practices have been major determinants in the position of scientific experts (including doctors and psychiatrists) in the courtroom. It compares forensic practices in four European countries (the Netherlands, England, Spain and Russia) with differing legal systems and ideologies and focuses on criminal cases in which gender plays an important role, such as rape, murder and infanticide. These cases often play out in the media as well as the courtroom and can demonstrate the influence of cultural images of gender on the role of European forensic science. Ruberg I will specifically address the advantages and pitfalls of the notion of ‘forensic culture’ in relation to new studies on expertise.