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Copyright (c) 2009 Law Text Culture 

ARTICLE: Crime Scenes


Law Text Culture

13 LTC 5


Rebecca Scott Bray and Derek Dalton


Crime has long kept law and its public enthralled, and the heartland of crime in contemporary culture is the crime scene. This is a place where the coordinates are continually mapped and, whether a minor or lead character in our social topographies, the crime scene inevitably, repeatedly, steals our attention. Representations pepper our television screens in police and forensic procedurals; Luc Sante's (1992) collection of New York crime scene photographs inspired a fervent generation of local and international efforts to excavate archives, loosening the crime scene from relative archival obscurity to increasingly preoccupy the public; and -- as readers of contemporary crime fiction know -- the 'crime scene' has become as ubiquitous a feature in crime fiction as the haunted house in the horror genre. The crime scene is thus de rigueur a feature of any modern examination of crime.

In addition to their more popular cultural allure, crime scenes are also the proper object of law. Law treads through the aftermath, rehearsing injury and revisiting death: this stretches through police work to trials, where jurors are enlisted to make 'views' and counsel adduce evidence and arrange its features. And as the crime scene is washed over by history, law retains its records of streets and buildings, back lots and seascapes. Crime scenes are spaces that have been witness to murder, mass murder, natural disasters with an imprimatur of criminal neglect, violent offences and great suffering. As if to acknowledge the importance of crime and place ...
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