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Wed 12 April
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Wednesday 12 April 2023 11.00 - 13.00
H-2 CRI02 Interrogating Interrogations: Knowledge and Power in Modern Criminal Justice
B32
Network: Criminal Justice Chair: Lara Bergers
Organizer: Elwin Hofman Discussant: Lara Bergers
Moderators: -
Claire Eldridge : Creating and Contesting Colonial Knowledge in the Courtroom: French Military Justice during the First World War
Between 1914 and 1918, the French military mobilised and deployed some 437,653 colonial subjects across the European fronts, where 70,800 of them died. This unprecedented diversity and the multifaceted encounters to which it gave rise profoundly shaped how different communities of combatants regarded, understood and thus treated each other. ... (Show more)
Between 1914 and 1918, the French military mobilised and deployed some 437,653 colonial subjects across the European fronts, where 70,800 of them died. This unprecedented diversity and the multifaceted encounters to which it gave rise profoundly shaped how different communities of combatants regarded, understood and thus treated each other. Chronicling the everyday events and interactions that stood behind the ‘crimes’ brought before Conseil de guerre or tribunals, military justice offers a privileged vantage point from which to see how these processes played out on the ground, especially if one focuses on units containing high proportions of colonised troops. By incorporating multiple voices - the accused, their comrades and superior officers, witnesses and courtroom personnel – these archives enable us to see how colonial knowledge was created and consolidated, but also negotiated and contested. Especially rich are the interrogations conducted at different stages of the judicial process, from initial questioning within the accused soldier’s unit all the way up to the tribunal itself. These often extensive exchanges illuminate the strategies pursued by both prosecutors and prosecuted as they sought to frame events and their key players in particular ways. Comparing the text of interrogations to the official reports produced over the course of the tribunal process, we can see whose statements were deemed more credible and thus reflect on the - frequently racialised - power dynamics at work. Critically engaging with Conseil de guerre interrogations thus allows us to better grasp the complex impact of the First World War on colonial knowledge and attitudes, not least by factoring in the perspectives and agency of the colonised to a greater extent than other types of sources allow for. (Show less)

Elwin Hofman : Experimental Interrogations: Psychology and Criminal Investigation in France and Germany, c. 1900
The period around 1900 was an exciting time for interrogators. Although criminal investigators had an increasing range of forensic tools to prove a crime, a confession often remained the highest prize. Ever since the early modern era, criminal interrogators had developed their own techniques to obtain these confessions. But around ... (Show more)
The period around 1900 was an exciting time for interrogators. Although criminal investigators had an increasing range of forensic tools to prove a crime, a confession often remained the highest prize. Ever since the early modern era, criminal interrogators had developed their own techniques to obtain these confessions. But around 1900, new players were entering the field in many European countries. Experimental psychologists and psychoanalysts proposed to accompany traditional interrogations with associational tests, hypnosis and psychodiagnostic instruments. People like Wilhelm Wundt, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung highlighted the possible applications of the scientific findings for criminal investigators.
In this paper, I will use legal advice literature and interrogation transcripts from France and Germany between 1880 and 1940 to assess to what extent interrogators brought this scientific advice into practice, and how it interacted with their own techniques and traditions. How did interrogators translate theoretical ideas into actual interrogations? How did this affect the balance of power in the interaction of an interrogation? And how did interrogators defend their own approaches? Was there any feedback from practice to theory? As such, I will study how practical psychological knowledge circulated and how it had an impact on judicial practice. (Show less)

Laura Lammasniemi : “I’m a low down dog and I hope I get what is coming to me”: Interrogating Sexual Offences in Early 20th Century England
This paper will examine written statements and confessions obtained during interrogations in sexual offences cases in the early 20th century England, and it will focus in specific on procedures, power and emotions displayed within spaces of interrogation. There was no obvious evidence of police malpractice, yet, questions remain about how ... (Show more)
This paper will examine written statements and confessions obtained during interrogations in sexual offences cases in the early 20th century England, and it will focus in specific on procedures, power and emotions displayed within spaces of interrogation. There was no obvious evidence of police malpractice, yet, questions remain about how confessions were obtained and how notions of masculinity, class and other power dynamics impacted criminal interrogation procedures and practice. The accused men in sexual offences cases were overwhelmingly of working class backgrounds and many were illiterate. Therefore, most statements and confessions were written down by the police officers, seemingly on dictation of the accused. These confessions, however, the paper will show, had often more emotional than legal effect. Despite confessions, some plead not guilty during the trial and were acquitted. Yet, these confessions were impactful. Several accused broke down in tears during the interrogation, speaking of emotions of shame, disbelief, and even a profound sense of sorrow at their own actions. These interrogations, therefore, were confessional in the broader, non-legal sense, of the word too. This paper forms part of a larger study on history of sexual offences in criminal courts and it is drawn from archival research on the depositions and statements in sexual offences cases heard in between the years of 1920 and 1950, held at the National Archives (London). (Show less)

Jennifer Sessions : Colonial Magistrates’ Tales: Interrogating Suspected Insurgés in French Algeria, 1901
The proposed paper will examine the application of French criminal procedures in colonial Algeria, with a focus on the magistrates responsible for investigating a 1901 anti-colonial revolt in the village of Margueritte. Drawing on the voluminous judicial instruction dossier and contemporary debates among jurists and policymakers about the applicability to ... (Show more)
The proposed paper will examine the application of French criminal procedures in colonial Algeria, with a focus on the magistrates responsible for investigating a 1901 anti-colonial revolt in the village of Margueritte. Drawing on the voluminous judicial instruction dossier and contemporary debates among jurists and policymakers about the applicability to Algeria of the metropolitan code of criminal procedure, I will consider the role of the juge d’instruction (investigating magistrate) and his colleagues in the parquet (court) of Blida in the unfolding of the “monster” case.
The juge d’instruction is the lynchpin of the modern French criminal justice system. “Local” officials affiliated with regional courts, the role of juges d’instruction is to gather evidence, hear witnesses, depose suspects, and determine whether to refer a case for trial. To that end, they enjoy extensive powers to search private property and to arrest and incarcerate suspects. And yet, despite extensive research on the judicial professions in nineteenth-century France and on the organization of criminal justice in the French colonies, we know almost nothing about the juges d’instruction of French Algeria. The first part of the proposed paper will, therefore, reconstruct the careers of the magistrates involved in the Margueritte case, with the goal of comparing their professional trajectories with those of their better-known metropolitan colleagues. The second part of the paper will turn to the interrogations of hundreds of suspected “insurgents” and witnesses interviewed in the months following the April 26, 1901 revolt. The official reports on these interrogations provide an invaluable window into the interrogation process and the role of language barriers, racial prejudices, and social hierarchies in shaping the operation of colonial justice. By comparing magistrates’ interactions with and attitudes towards Algerian colonial subjects and European settlers, we can begin to establish a portrait of a critical, but as-yet little understood part of the colonial judiciary and an understanding of the role of the magistrature in constituting the colonial state in French Algeria. (Show less)



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