Criminal Interrogation: Past & Present

CfP: Criminal Interrogation: Past & Present

Research Network for Culture, Law & the Body, Utrecht University
3512 BS
Findet statt
In Präsenz
Vom - Bis
13.09.2024 -
Elwin Hofman

In this interdisciplinary workshop, to be held at Utrecht University on 13 September 2024, we we will discuss rules, institutions and ideas about interrogation as well as concrete interrogations and methodological considerations.

CfP: Criminal Interrogation: Past & Present

Suspect interrogations remain a crucial element of criminal investigation today. Interrogations can provide information about motives and circumstances, they can lead detectives on to new evidence, and they are opportunities for criminals to begin to improve their lives. In this workshop, we aim to place the current practice of criminal interrogation in a long-term historical context. Why we interrogate in criminal justice, and why we do it the way we do, is the result of ideas and practices that date back to the middle ages. By tracing continuities and changes over the past centuries, we aim to elucidate this history, both in order to understand its historical role in criminal justice and society, and to make sense of present-day practices.

Several historical moments have had a lasting influence on criminal interrogation. In the late middle ages, the inquisition developed the suspect interrogation as a tool for investigation, which was subsequently adopted by civil criminal justice. Early modern interrogations oscillated between formalism and dialogue. In the eighteenth century, the official restriction and later abolition of torture then raised the expectations of interrogation, leading to a turn to psychology in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, new technologies such as ‘lie detectors’ promised to revolutionise interrogation while sophisticated new psychological interrogation strategies virtually guaranteed confessions. After the Second World War, a renewed attention to human rights led to concerns about undue pressure. In many countries, around 2000, ‘interrogation’ was renamed ‘interview’, in the hope of leaving behind the baggage of abuse and false confessions.

Throughout all these major developments, people tried to balance their various interests. Suspects confessed or refused to confess, spoke or remained silent, followed the rules or tried to subvert them. Interrogators stuck to traditions or ignored them, used force or charm, pushed for a confession or settled for a statement they did not believe. Judges, lawyers, lawmakers, reformers, architects, journalists and the public at large all influenced the course of these interrogations in different ways. In the workshop, we will discuss rules, institutions and ideas about interrogation as well as concrete interrogations and methodological considerations.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

Institutions and ideas of interrogation
- The development of ‘interrogation’ in the inquisition & the inquisitorial system
- Differences and tensions between police and judicial interrogation
- Interrogation and torture / the ‘third degree’
- Interrogation and the rights of the defence / human rights
- The role of lawyers in interrogation
- The place and purpose of criminal interrogation in theory and practice
- Comparisons of criminal interrogation with interrogation practices outside the criminal justice system (e.g. in civil law, psychiatry, intelligence, business,…)

Interrogation, science & knowledge
- The role of psychology & psychiatry in the theory and practice of interrogation
- The development and use of scientific tools for interrogation (e.g. lie detectors, narcoanalysis, SCAN, brain scans,…)
- Analysis of studies on interrogation (e.g. in psychology, law, criminology, linguistics, history,…)
- Popular representations of interrogation (e.g. in crime novels, tv shows,…)
- Education and training of interrogators
- Memory, suggestion and interrogation
- The means of recording interrogations (e.g. writing down in the first or third person, audio recordings, video recordings) and their consequences
- Methodological consideration for the study of interrogations, e.g. through interrogation transcripts

Interrogations in practice
- Spaces and objects of interrogation (e.g. interrogation rooms, desks, lights, clothing)
- Emotions of interrogators and the interrogated
- The embodiment of interrogations (e.g. movements, postures, embodied reactions, use of voice, hearing, sight,…)
- Attempts to moralise or ‘improve’ suspects during interrogations
- Religious elements in interrogation
- Interrogation, disability & vulnerability
- Gender, race and class in interrogation
- Tactics of interrogators and interrogated

We welcome both broad overviews and case studies of specific times and places. Although the focus of the workshop will be on the history of interrogation, we also invite scholars working on recent developments to participate. The aim of the workshop is to foster a dialogue between people from different disciplines and working on different times and places.

The workshop will take place on 13 September 2024 at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. The workshop will be free to attend and to participate in.

If you are interested in participating, please send a short proposal (title + abstract of max. 300 words) to Elwin Hofman: The deadline for submission of proposals is 15 May 2024.

The workshop is an event of the Research Network for Culture, Law and the Body and is organised as part of the InterPsy project, funded by the European Union's Horizon Europe MSCA programme (project no. 101059129).