In Crime's Archive : The Cultural Afterlife of Evidence book cover
1st Edition

In Crime's Archive
The Cultural Afterlife of Evidence

ISBN 9780367895280
Published November 28, 2019 by Routledge
217 Pages

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Book Description

This book investigates what happens to criminal evidence after the conclusion of legal proceedings. During the criminal trial, evidentiary material is tightly regulated; it is formally regarded as part of the court record, and subject to the rules of evidence and criminal procedure. However, these rules and procedures cannot govern or control this material after proceedings have ended. In its ‘afterlife’, criminal evidence continues to proliferate in cultural contexts. It might be photographic or video evidence, private diaries and correspondence, weapons, physical objects or forensic data, and it arouses the interest of journalists, scholars, curators, writers or artists. Building on a growing cultural interest in criminal archival materials, this book shows how in its afterlife, criminal evidence gives rise to new uses and interpretations, new concepts and questions, many of which are creative and transformative of crime and evidence, and some of which are transgressive, dangerous or insensitive. It takes the judicial principle of open justice – the assumption that justice must be seen to be done – and investigates instances in which we might see too much, too little or from a distorted angle. It centres upon a series of case studies, including those of Lindy Chamberlain and, more recently, Oscar Pistorius, in which criminal evidence has re-appeared outside of the criminal process. Traversing museums, libraries, galleries and other repositories, and drawing on extensive interviews with cultural practitioners and legal professionals, this book probes the legal, ethical, affective and aesthetic implications of the cultural afterlife of evidence.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents




Introduction: Afterlife, evidence, archive

Chapter 1: The afterlife of police photographs

Chapter 2: The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death: Crime scenes as doll’s houses

Chapter 3: The afterlife of criminal evidence in the news media

Chapter 4: The Oscar Pistorius Trial: An afterlife in real time
Chapter 5: The Museum: Curating evidence

Chapter 6: The Lindy Chamberlain Case: The afterlife of a miscarriage of justice

Chapter 7: International crimes: The afterlife of evidence of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity

Conclusion: Destroying the evidence


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Katherine Biber is Professor of Law at the University of Technology, Sydney.


"In the course of seven wonderfully self-contained chapters, each focused upon different evidentiary afterlives in different institutional contexts, In Crime’s Archive explores the ways in which criminal evidence continues to play formative and expansive roles in the cultural and popular life of society as well as the very real lives of those most directly implicated in it."

Michelle Brown, Department of Sociology, University of Tennessee, Law and Society Review



"One of the gifts this book offers is its capacity to open multiple windows onto the world of evidence, criminal justice, and culture ... This book offers a different way of thinking about the objects that the criminal justice process accumulates, organizes, and stores in its archives. It shines a light on the ways in which a wide variety of individuals and institutions are mining them. It calls for the reader to question and problematize the journey that the objects in law’s archive take into wider society."

Leslie J Moran, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK, Social and Legal Studies