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Lecture 4

CRIM 3658 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Portrait Photography, Anthropometry, Rogues Gallery

Course Code
CRIM 3658
Anita Lam

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CRIM 3658 – Lecture 04 – How Technologies Shape The Representation of Criminality
1. Recap
- Technology effects how we treat criminals
- STS reminds us that both science and technology are importantly social as well as
- Taking a social constructionist; STS argues that products are not natural but are human
constructions that embody within the social and political properties (artefacts)
- Technologies are made in Heterogeneous constructions, that is they are constructed
through heterogeneous networks ranging from knowledge’s, institutions, peoples,
equipment’s – the nature of thee hybrid networks STS scholars concluded that there is no
single or dominant shaping force that determines the effects or shapes of technology
- STS provided an alternative understanding to a more conventional understanding of
technology and society – challenged technological determinism and technological
neutrality by making anti-essentialist arguments about technologies through the concept
of interpretative flexibility – inventors of technologies create certain scripts for ideal
users when actual users confront technologies in communities of practice to putting
technologies to noble purpose as we as assign them a purpose or practice
- Technologies must fit within the environment it is used in, and vice versa
- The Social order is co constructed
- Technological artefacts have political properties that are compatible with social and
political ranges
2. Production of criminals: photography and Bertillonage
- Photography impacted criminalistics (the way we investigate crime, in order to see a
criminals identity)
- Helped construct and imagine criminals in the past – today it helps us construct and
imagine suspects
3. Production of suspects: fingerprint photography, DNA fingerprinting and searchable
- Criminals and suspects are created through technologies, and produced through these
technologies and are constructed
2. Production of Criminals
Knowledge about criminals tied to ways of seeing
The camera and photography in the 19th century à 1) criminology and 2) criminalistics
- new ways of conceiving criminality (1) to view criminals as a type according to
criminology theories (2) criminalistics (forensics)
- Photography to mechanical objectivity
Photographys claim to mechanical objectivity
- so what the camera captures, is the mechanical reproduction of reality itself
Connected to modern rationalism and empiricism
- 19th century; rationalism and empiricism were invested vision with this
unquestionable capability to see the truth
Produced irrefutable visual proof and evidence
- To validate knowledge and verify by our eyes and the photograph
- Evidence to document the existence of these facts (seen only through the
photograph, which was mechanically objective)
- The human eye was seen to be fallible (your vision could fail; vision loss or not
having perfect vision – in contrast the camera was seen to be infallible; it could
empirically verify without any subjection)
- The camera is infallible compared to the fallible human eye
Inscription Device
It is a technological artefact that records and translates nature into visual and/or
written representation

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Science uses graphs as an inscriptive device that is meant to persuade the general
public to increase temperatures over time (i.e. Global warming on a scientific
These graphic devices are used because it renders phenomena into a compact,
transportable and persuasive form
Photographs are much easier to compare for analysis
STS scholars have argued that this creates scientific knowledge
Photography and Criminology
Composite portrait photography (Sir Francis Galton)
An in important technique used for visualization and documentation of human
Composite portrait of a type was a as visual generalization (‘pictorial statistics’)
Galton would take multiple pictures of multiple offenders and expose these
images for a fraction of time so they would overlap until there was a single
dominant image that appears and blur into a single face (the image of the
“average” criminal face)
Galton was providing visual proof, an equivalence to these statistics
Allowed us to directly see criminal types this constructed a photographic
impression aka an abstract empirically non existent and a statistically defined
criminal face
Photography and Criminology
- Resonated with criminal theories around the same time – aimed to document and classify
criminal types within the human species
Composite portrait and the criminal type provided visual evidence of the criminal types
that they were writing about – to document the born criminal as a dangerous type of
- Criminological theories that distinguished
Italian school of criminal anthropology and Cesare Lombroso
Theory of born criminality
Proposed a theory of criminality after working with criminal inmates – a small
portion of them were committing a disproportionate amount of crime in society,
reoffending, and continually committing serious violent crimes in society – thus
he theorized that they were born criminals
These born criminals were Atavistic anomalies (primitive throwbacks to an age
where these criminals were biologically different from non criminals, and were
considered savages and was written on their bodies [atavistic anomalies;
abnormally shaped heads, different jaws, sharp teeth, etc.] – they related to
primitive savages than normal human beings)
Photography and Criminology
- deployed against criminals by verifying their criminal identity – criminals were
physiologically different from the rest of us
Photographic representations of criminals’ bodies and faces seen as images of scientific
Vs. criminals’ own representations of their bodies (tattoos and tribes Lombroso)
The camera was seen as the legitimate producer of identities of criminals
Scientific rationalism; looked down upon the less evolved criminality
When criminologists used these photographs, they used this to conduct
themselves as an expert of criminality but this wasn’t true, scientists were the
experts because they could back up their claims through the impartial verification
via the composite portrait – these became important for identifying certain
groups of people as born criminals
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