Forensic evidence: Materializing bodies, materializing crimes

European Journal of Women's Studies 17 (4):363-377 (2010)
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Abstract

Based on an ethnographic study of fingerprint and DNA evidence practices in the Swedish judicial system, this article analyses the materialization of forensic evidence. It argues that forensic evidence, while popularly understood as firmly rooted in materiality, is inseparably technoscientific and cultural. Its roots in the material world are entangled threads of matter, technoscience and culture that produce particular bodily constellations within and together with a particular sociocultural context. Forensic evidence, it argues further, is co-materialized with crimes as well as with particular bodily and social constellations. Consequently, the article suggests that an analysis of how forensic evidence is produced can contribute to feminist understandings of the inseparability of sex and gender: understanding bodies as ongoing technoscientific-material-cultural practices of materialization may be a fruitful approach to analysing their complexity, and the relationships in which they are placed, without surrendering to either cultural or biological determinism. Taking a theoretical point of departure not only in an STS-informed approach, but also in material feminist theorizations, the article also underlines that the suggested theoretical conversations across borders of feminist theory and STS should be understood as a two-way-communication where the two fields contribute mutually to each other.

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