Our environment in miniature: Dust and the early twentieth-century forensic imagination

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Abstract

This article explores the articulation of the crime scene as a distinct space of theory and practice in the early twentieth century. In particular it focuses on the evidentiary hopes invested in what would at first seem an unpromising forensic object: dust. Ubiquitous and, to the uninitiated, characterless, dust nevertheless featured as an exemplary object of cutting-edge forensic analysis in two contemporary domains: writings of criminologists and works of detective fiction. The article considers how in these texts dust came to mark the furthest reach of a new forensic capacity they were promoting, one that drew freely upon the imagination to invest crime scene traces with meaning. Representations 121. Winter 2013 © The Regents of the University of California.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-59
Number of pages28
JournalRepresentations
Volume121
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013