Speaker: Dr Ian Burney (University of Manchester)

Dr Burney uses the notorious case of the serial murderer John Christie (1953) to explore the contours of English homicide investigation at mid-century and detail the broader ‘forensic culture’ within which the case unfolded.

Crucial to the Christie story is the way that forensic pathology and forensic science operated in a relationship of mutual dependence, and how this reflected an effort on the part of participants to forge a new culture of ‘team-driven’ forensic investigation as a self-conscious corrective to a prior model based on individual ‘virtuosity’.

In particular, the Christie case enables an examination of the ways that English murder investigation was shaped by new approaches to the crime scene and by developments in lab-based analysis of crime scene objects which reconfigured the relationship between bodies, spaces, and traces.