Tracing the Criminal

Tracing the Criminal
The Rise of Scientific Criminology in Britain, 1860-1918
By Neil Davie

with a foreword by Bryan S. Turner

January 2006, hardback, 304pp
ISBN-13: 978-0-9548683-1-4


Tracing the Criminal recounts the history of the emergence of 'scientific' criminology in Britain during the period 1860-1918. It shows how it developed from the prevalent view that criminals constituted a sub-category of the Human Race who differed from the law-abiding majority in other ways than simply by their lawbreaking, and that those differences were accessible to scientific investigation. As a result, the criminal was increasingly seen as a genetic threat to the wider population. Neil Davie's perceptive study explores the ideas and research of this era and examines the impact of the influential theories of Lombroso, Galton, Goring and others. As Professor Davie makes clear, the new inductive science of criminology sought not merely to describe criminals, but also to explain them. What gripped the minds of a wide range of Victorians and Edwardians was thus not simply a taxonomic desire to pin a label on 'The Criminal' and place him or her under a bell jar, but the urge to explore the very springs of crime itself.

This is a mind-reader of a book. Neil Davie has identified the major puzzles facing criminological historians, providing answers in clear, lively prose. Zooming right in on the key theoretical issues, he presents persuasive arguments that are sure to change the direction of the field. This is a most welcome book, one that readers on both sides of the Atlantic will want to add to their personal libraries.
Professor Nicole Hahn Rafter, Northeastern University, author of Creating Born Criminals.


Foreword by Bryan S. Turner
Chapter One - Prologue: Bumps, Bull-terriers and Habituals
Chapter Two - “The Tyranny of Organisation”: Towards a Natural History of Crime
Chapter Three - The Triumph of Common Sense? Cesare Lombroso’s “Born Criminal-Type” and its British Critics
Chapter Four - A Criminal-Type in all but Name? British Theories of Crime and the Criminal (c. 1885–1914)
Chapter Five - The English Convict and the Challenge of Eugenics
Bibliography; Index

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