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The Social Life of Forensic Evidence

Corinna Kruse (Author)

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In The Social Life of Forensic Evidence, Corinna Kruse provides a major contribution to understanding forensic evidence and its role in the criminal justice system. Arguing that forensic evidence can be understood as a form of knowledge, she reveals that each piece of evidence has a social life and biography. Kruse shows how the crime scene examination is as crucial to the creation of forensic evidence as laboratory analyses, the plaintiff, witness, and suspect statements elicited by police investigators, and the interpretations that prosecutors and defense lawyers bring to the evidence. Drawing on ethnographic data from Sweden and on theory from both anthropology and science and technology studies, she examines how forensic evidence is produced and how it creates social relationships as cases move from crime scene to courtroom. She demonstrates that forensic evidence is neither a fixed entity nor solely material, but is inseparably part of and made through particular legal, social, and technological practices.
Corinna Kruse is a lecturer in the Department of Thematic Studies—Technology and Social Change at Linköping University.
"The Social Life of Forensic Evidence is a sharp and focused ethnographic exploration of the production and circulation of forensic evidence through the adjoining sites of the court, the police investigation unit, the crime lab and the crime scene."—Theoretical Criminology
"The Social Life of Forensic Evidence traces evidence backward from its end point as a piece of evidence in the courtroom to its origin as a piece of dust at a crime scene. It's a book I would have liked to have written, and it's some of the best new science and technology studies work on forensic science. The Social Life of Forensic Evidence combines broad accessibility with sophisticated anthropological theory."—Simon A. Cole, author of Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification 
"Corinna Kruse has written a theoretically acute and empirically rich account of the technical, organizational, legal, and interactional efforts that together shape the production, reception, and utilization of forensic science evidence in contemporary criminal justice systems. The scope and reach of her analysis contribute substantially to scholarship on the relationship between material and social factors in knowledge-making."—Robin Williams, Professor of Forensic Science Studies, Northumbria University
"Kruse argues convincingly that the credibility of DNA evidence is inseparable from the human practices and judgments involved in associating traces of bodily material with criminal acts, motives, and testimony. She effectively deploys the well-established ‘story model’ for analyzing legal testimony and shows that the seemingly self-evident testimony of the ‘genetic witness’ is bound up in discursive narratives that make sense of how such evidence was or was not associated with a criminal act."— Michael Lynch, Professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University
"The Social Life of Forensic Evidence takes us, calmly and with a keen eye for specificities, on a journey from courtrooms to crime scenes and back, opening widows onto various epistemic cultures and professional practices and unraveling the multiplicity of forensic evidence. Kruse provides the context for a deep understanding of forensic evidence. This multi-sited ethnography is a unique study of the stakes that police officers and investigators, forensic scientists, and legal actors have in forensic evidence."—Amade M'charek, Professor of Anthropology of Science, University of Amsterdam

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