Criminology and Criminal Justice
http://crj.sagepub.com

Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist
Paul Rock
Criminology ...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

28/3/07

10:51 AM

Page 117

ARTICLES
Criminology & Criminal Justice
© 2007 SAGE Publications
(Los...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

118

28/3/07

10:51 AM

Page 118

Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2)
That was not quite how it se...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

28/3/07

10:51 AM

Page 119

Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist
1894: 215) and Straha...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

120

28/3/07

10:51 AM

Page 120

Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2)
and lawyers and clergymen at...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 121

Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist
who were best placed ...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

122

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 122

Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2)
A special aesthetics was at ...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 123

Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist
Lombroso’s was not th...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

124

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 124

Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2)
There are those who argue qu...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 125

Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist
happen”’.35 Lombroso ...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

126

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 126

Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2)
Feminist insurgency worked t...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 127

Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist
8 The Times of 11 Sep...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

128

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 128

Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2)
19 The historian of British ...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 129

Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist
from the first, and t...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

130

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 130

Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2)
Bland, L. and L. Doan (eds) ...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 131

Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist
Heidensohn, F. (1996)...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

132

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 132

Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2)
Pears, E. (ed.) (1912) Priso...
117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd

28/3/07

10:52 AM

Page 133

Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist
Zedner, L. (1991) Wom...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Rock

1,149 views

Published on

Published in: Technology, Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Rock

  1. 1. Criminology and Criminal Justice http://crj.sagepub.com Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist Paul Rock Criminology and Criminal Justice 2007; 7; 117 DOI: 10.1177/1748895807075565 The online version of this article can be found at: http://crj.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/7/2/117 Published by: http://www.sagepublications.com On behalf of: British Society of Criminology Additional services and information for Criminology and Criminal Justice can be found at: Email Alerts: http://crj.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Subscriptions: http://crj.sagepub.com/subscriptions Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Permissions: http://www.sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav Citations http://crj.sagepub.com/cgi/content/refs/7/2/117 Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009
  2. 2. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 28/3/07 10:51 AM Page 117 ARTICLES Criminology & Criminal Justice © 2007 SAGE Publications (Los Angeles, London, New Delhi and Singapore) and the British Society of Criminology. www.sagepublications.com ISSN 1748–8958; Vol: 7(2): 117–133 DOI: 10.1177/1748895807075565 Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist PAUL ROCK London School of Economics, UK and University of Pennsylvania, USA Abstract This article is based on a contribution made to a panel discussion at the November 2005 meetings of the American Society of Criminology, a discussion that was triggered by a celebration of Nicole Rafter’s and Mary Gibson’s new translation of Caesare Lombroso’s Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman. It dwells on how Lombroso and his book were generally received in the United Kingdom; how his ideas were in the main soon rejected but long memorialized; and how one might attempt to understand some part of why he should have been so dismissed, on the one hand, yet so retained, on the other, by invoking the familiar idea that he has been made continually and dialectically to play a signal, rhetorical role in defining by negation the theoretical backbone of an insurgent feminist criminology. Key Words criminal woman • feminist criminology • Lombroso Introduction There is now a conventional verdict on Lombroso, a 1066 and All That judgement, which recapitulates a posthumous entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1911 and the remarks of Charles Goring in The English Convict of 1919.1 In stock phrases that pepper, say, the pages of the worldwide web,2 it has been claimed that he was a poor scientist3 but an enlightened penal reformer. 117 Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009
  3. 3. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 118 28/3/07 10:51 AM Page 118 Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2) That was not quite how it seemed to everyone at the time although the matter was anything but simple. Lombroso was not discarded tout court: he certainly had his followers in Britain but they were not numerous, and they were in the main men identified with an array of fledgling disciplines. There was W.D. Morrison, the author of Crime and Its Causes, published in 1891, and Juvenile Offenders, published in 1896, and the editor of the criminology series in which a heavily abridged English translation of The Criminal Woman appeared in 1895. Morrison was a prison chaplain and pioneering criminologist, and he was later to be dismissed by Roger Hood in an entry in The Dictionary of National Biography (2004) as one who was ‘more a controversialist than a social scientist and was accused, sometimes justifiably, of drawing inferences to suit his argument’. There was S.A. Strahan, a doctor and lawyer, a physician at the Northampton County Asylum, and author of writings on ‘instinctive criminality’, criminal insanity, suicide and morphine habituation. There was the asylum physician and superintendent, Sir Thomas Clouston, co-editor with Henry Maudsley of the Journal of Mental Science, and the first lecturer in mental disease at Edinburgh University. There was Sir John Lubbock, later Lord Avebury, a Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, Member of Parliament for the university, a polymath4 and an autodidact, who had left school at 15, and who told students at a prize-giving in 1892 that: The pauper, the criminal and the lunatic were alike … in being stragglers from the great army of civilization. It has been established beyond cavil by Lombroso and the school of criminal anthropologists that the criminal man was of a different physical organization from the normal man, and resembled the lunatic in many respects … It was certain that, if the reclamation of the criminal was to be effected, the period of his detention must be indefinite in duration and must depend on the amelioration of his character. (The Times, 4 October 1892) Above all, there was Henry Maudsley, the co-founder of the eponymous hospital, and Havelock Ellis, described by Rafter as the ‘channeller’ of Lombrosian ideas into the United States. Maudsley has been called the ‘leading alienist of his generation’, who wrote about homicidal insanity, insanity and criminal responsibility, and other themes in the first stirrings of criminology (see, for instance, Maudsley, 1888). Havelock Ellis, a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries, was one of the two Vice-Presidents of the International Congress of Criminal Anthropology held in 1901 in Amsterdam, where Lombroso spoke on degeneration and tattooing. He had written copiously on criminality (1890), genius (1927) and sex (1897, 1931), having moved perilously close to the taboo in his Studies in the Psychology of Sex (1936) (see Bland and Doan, 1998), the first volume of which, published in 1897, was banned on charges of obscenity (see Ellis, 1898). Lombroso’s proponents were thus a mix of the self-taught and people of standing who were associated with the advancement of infant and as yet insecure sciences—psychiatry, psychology,5 sexology, criminology ((Clouston, Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009
  4. 4. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 28/3/07 10:51 AM Page 119 Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist 1894: 215) and Strahan (The Times, 26 August 1891) severally complained how very little work was being done in England on the criminal) and the new and contested discipline of medico-legal science which, according to Clark and Crawford, ‘never gained more than a precarious foothold in the teaching hospitals and university medical schools’ and whose journal, Transactions of the Medico-Legal Society, and Society, founded in 1901 with 65 members, failed to ‘create a strong institutional focus for the development of … expertise’ (1994: 9). The Society was formed defensively around a marginal vocation. The inaugural address of its first president, Sir William Collins, remarked not only on how weak was the authority of the discipline (‘No great effort of memory is needed to recall lectures on forensic medicine, the audience attendant upon which was apt to be few and not particularly fit, while the special qualifications of the lecturer appeared to rest almost entirely on the fact that no place had been found for his abilities in any other department of medical study’), but also on how weak was the standing of its members as expert witnesses (they are ‘not unfrequently and often unjustly the opprobrium of his fellow-professional, the lawyer’ (1902, 1903 and 1904: 6, 1)). A number of such men had found in Lombroso a genius to be their champion, a man who would take their work forward. Clouston remarked, for instance, that ‘criminal anthropology has assumed a name and attained an importance unknown before. It fascinated Lombroso, an Italian man of genius, and through him has infected the minds of able observers in Italy and elsewhere’ (1894: 216). Their ideas on occasion may have smacked of the zeal of the crusader and the marginal man, and yet even they were not always confident about his merits. In 1894, Clouston conceded that: criminal anthropology has been in the hands of the enthusiasts, many of whom have been fascinated by its scientific and social interest, and have seen perhaps both more and less than the men of cooler judgement who will follow them. (1894: 219) By 1895, Havelock Ellis had distanced himself somewhat from the more sweeping claims made by Lombroso, opposing the notion of atavism, arguing that there was no single school of criminal anthropology, and no ‘real type’ of born criminal.6 Maudsley too came eventually to modify his allegiance to Lombroso (Mannheim represented him as standing somewhere between the evangelism of Ellis and the hostility of Goring (1965: 226)). When a letter was published simultaneously in The Times and the Lancet in June 1911 to raise funds for a ‘suitable memorial’ to Lombroso in Verona, a letter citing Havelock Ellis, W.D. Morrison and members of the Medico-Legal Society as its co-sponsors, the author was obliged to make the lukewarm concession that Lombroso’s ‘views were not accepted in their entirety by scientists, yet he did a great life’s work, and his writings on crime and criminals have had a worldwide influence’. For the most part,7 however, and despite Lombroso’s defenders, those engaged in and about the central institutions of the criminal justice system, the prison administrators and doctors, medical practitioners and researchers, Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009 119
  5. 5. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 120 28/3/07 10:51 AM Page 120 Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2) and lawyers and clergymen at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries knew little or nothing of his work,8 and those who did know something tended to be incredulous about his ideas and indifferent to his proposals for penal policy.9 Lawyers and clergymen did not care much for his seeming abandonment of doctrines of moral responsibility.10 Before 1919, and the publication of The English Convict—the statistical refutation of the claims of criminal anthropology—medical and scientific men tended to be sceptical about his methods of investigation,11 analysis and reasoning.12 After 1919, his claims to public scientific standing in the United Kingdom were threadbare.13 In what was tantamount to a death sentence for criminal anthropology, and reviewing The English Convict, The Times said in that year: Stated broadly, the conclusions arrived at are that the criminal type, marked by physical and mental stigmata as described by Lombroso, does not exist, that, as individuals, criminals possess no characteristics, physical and mental, which are not shared by all people. (The Times, 24 November 1919) Lombroso may have been credited with lending the discipline of criminology its name (but see the first recorded English use of the term in The Atheneum, 6 September 1890) and, according to David Garland, but less certainly (see the dissenting voice of Davie, 200414), its preoccupation with the born criminal man and woman. Otherwise, and except for its worked impact as a negative example, criminal anthropology and The Criminal Woman did not make a lasting impact on the substance and development of British criminology.15 It did not inform the programmes and policies underpinning the evolution of women’s prisons in the United Kingdom. Prison governors dismissed it or did not allude to it (see Size, 1957; Kelley, 1967). Successive prison commissioners may have been aware of it,16 but they either ignored it or professed a distaste for it17 (indeed, it was they who had commissioned Charles Goring’s The English Convict18). Arthur Griffiths, a distinguished prison inspector, sometime deputy governor of the prisons at Chatham, Millbank and Wormwood Scrubs, and protegé of Du Cane, claimed in the Windsor Magazine that there was no cause to believe ‘in Professor Lombroso’s theory of a special [female] criminal type’ (1896: 444). Prison medical officers were in the main unmoved.19 The historians of British women’s prisons make sparse reference to it.20 And my own research on the history and rebuilding of Holloway Prison, the principal establishment for women in England, found no trace of doctrines based on criminal anthropology in interviews with the principals or in any of the primary and secondary papers that informed decision making about the planning and management of the prison (Rock, 1996). To the contrary. What little science there was chiefly took the form of an abstracted empiricism, which fitfully counted anything that could be measured without sign of theory or coherence.21 The reasons for that rejection lay in the public effects of the critical work of Charles Goring, the practitioner of the new science of statistics, who had dedicated himself to refuting criminal anthropology, and of the more general response of scientists and medical professionals, the men acting as gatekeepers Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009
  6. 6. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 121 Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist who were best placed to validate or dismiss Lombroso’s ideas in the United Kingdom. Goring had asserted that there were no significant differences between the criminal and everyman and everywoman—that the idea of a distinct criminal type was simply misconceived. The scientists and medical men had a more diffuse reaction. The latter group would have been trained from the 1840s on, and their education was less theoretical than pragmatic, inductive rather than deductive, interested in outcomes rather than in causes, aimed at producing ‘capable practitioners’ rather than ‘capable inquirers’.22 In the universities of Dublin, Edinburgh and London where they were trained, the prime emphasis was on being instructed in situ by ‘walking the wards’ (see Peterson, 1978: 14) and visiting the dissecting room (see Loudon, 1995). Looking back on that era in 1939, Ernest Graham-Little said that ‘“walking the hospitals”, a phrase and practice which came into being on the threshold of the century … [is] the most valuable tradition of English medicine, the habit of close clinical observation’ (1939: 4). Doctors in the making came to medicine largely ill-educated in formal science (there was little enough science taught and few enough science masters in the public schools (Cardwell, 1972: 113, 115)) and they were inducted into what was a substantially empirical discipline that was ‘heavily clinical, dictated by the demands of bread-and-butter private practice; pure research independent of healing [being] somewhat suspect and attract[ing] scant state support’ (Porter, 1997: 336). They would have learned about the ‘Anatomy of Man & Animals, & Physiology, Medicine & Surgery: A little Mental Philosophy, Logic and Astronomy’.23 They would have acquired, in short, a thoroughly bourgeois professional culture wedded to the empirical and the experiential, separate and distant from what Charles Bell, appointed first Professor of Physiology and Surgery in London University in 1828, called teaching ‘delivered with dry hands which give[s] a speculative and theoretical character to the whole …’ (in Jacyna, 1995: 148–9). Such was the larger frame of medical reasoning in late Victorian Britain, and it may be imagined that it did not tend to sit comfortably with the largely top–down, mono-causal (see Mannheim, 1965: 8), triumphal grand theorizing of criminal anthropology. Quite apart from the debates centred on questions of scientific evidence, procedure and inference, it is then possible that another form of dissonance was in play, more aesthetic, symbolic or cultural than instrumental, which hastened the rejection of Lombroso and The Criminal Woman. Between the practical language and modes of reasoning that were to be found in and around late 19th-century British science and medicine and the expressive, rococo language and theorizing of Italian criminal anthropology there could have been little sympathy, fit or affinity. Theories, said Kenny, which had been disseminated so quickly amongst the younger jurists of the Latin lands, did not find equally rapid acceptance in the countries of Teutonic speech … in the cooler latitudes of Leipzig or London or Boston, there is less reluctance to test the brilliant Italian theories by the results of old experience, and to discount their sweeping generalisations by patient analysis. (1910: 220) Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009 121
  7. 7. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 122 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 122 Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2) A special aesthetics was at work, in part, perhaps, because Lombroso wrote in orotund style about extravagances of nature, monsters (Rafter, 2005: 10), freaks and aberrations. His language and the language of his followers seem somehow to have striven not only to record the scale of his accomplishments but also to match and mirror the extraordinary facts they had captured, to develop through mimesis and onomatopoeia—what The Oxford English Dictionary called ‘the use of naturalistically suggestive language for rhetorical effect’—a phenomenology equal to its grandeur and to its subject.24 How else could one account for the wording of Strahan’s observation that: ‘In the criminal, we find small, over-large and ill-shapen heads, paralyses, squints, asymmetrical faces; deformed, shrunken, ill-developed bodies, abnormal conditions of the genital organs, large, heavy jaws, outstanding ears, and a restless, animal-like, or brutal expression’;25 of the remark of an American criminal anthropologist, Boies, that criminals ‘are the imperfect, knotty, knurly, worm-eaten, half-rotten fruit of the human race’? (in Rafter, 1997: 212); or of Maudsley’s claim that criminals are ‘a degenerate or morbid variety of mankind, marked by peculiar low physical and mental characteristics … They are scrofulous, not seldom deformed, with badly-formed angular heads; are stupid, sullen, deficient in vital energy, and sometimes afflicted with epilepsy … The women are ugly in features’ (in Rafter, 2005: 17)? Lombroso’s own grandiose preamble to the first English edition of The Criminal Woman in 1895 reported that he had: regarded anthropometry as the backbone, the whole framework indeed, of the new human statue of which he was at the time attempting the creation; and only learnt the vanity of such hopes and the evils of excessive confidence when use, as is usual, had degenerated into abuse. (1895: 2) The well-worn account of his first epiphany in 1870 was even more operatic: the morning of a gloomy day in December, I found in the skull of a brigand a very long series of atavistic anomalies … At the sight of these strange anomalies, as a large plain appears under an inflamed horizon, the problem of the nature and of the origin of the criminal seemed to me resolved …26 Such a style of expression did not always appeal to those who saw themselves the heirs of a tradition of plain Anglo-Saxon and who preferred a clarity and simplicity of speech and thought (see Campbell, 1816). It was lurid, ‘fanciful’ (Thompson, 1896: 271) and barbarous, and Lombroso’s executioner, Charles Goring, could not conceal his contempt: Note how, following the custom of ancient astrologers, the time of day, the month, and state of weather are recorded. That ‘morning of the gloomy day in December’! That ‘large plain’ and its ‘inflamed horizon’!—Science knows nothing of them. Newton must work by other laws than Victor Hugo’s. (1919: 12) Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009
  8. 8. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 123 Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist Lombroso’s was not the way to write science. He wrote in the overblown manner of a popular foreign novelist, and his analysis, it was said again and again, was melodramatic, alien, confused and disorderly. The report of his death in The Times talked of his ‘exaggerated ideas’ and noted that: ‘As a lecturer Lombroso was never very successful, owing to a tendency to indulge in wide divagations and to his inability to present his ideas in an orderly sequence’ (20 October 1909). His, said Rafter and Gibson, was a ‘a magnificent tangle of brilliance and nonsense’ (in Gartner, 2004). Rational thought with its quest for dispassion, order, control and principles of clear classification baulks at such sensationalizing speech and chimaera.27 Barbara Stafford remarked how the Enlightenment had begun in a ‘revulsion against anything mixed, confused, or animalistic’, and, she continued, The eighteenth century notions of what was out or in, lacking or perfect, remain recognizable in the late twentieth century. Monsters and hybrids … dwelled at the limit of light and dark, at the boundaries of natural viability and social acceptability. Aberrations in language, body, and imagery incarnated unenlightenment in the Age of Enlightenment. (1991: 213) It is almost as if Lombroso’s exaggerated and unrestrained descriptions of extraordinary criminal types offended scientific sensibilities. They were extreme,28 grotesque, unsafe and fantastical, and Lombroso and his creations were correspondingly corrupt and deformed.29 That was a position repeatedly aired. Goring said: Nothing is more remarkable than the array of incompatibles, of false and true notions, cheek by jowl, what there is of truth dangerously marred by exaggeration and fallacy—nothing is more startling than the organised confusion masquerading to-day under the scientific name of criminology. (1919: 12) The Lancet talked about how ‘the somewhat fantastic ideas embodied in several of his works have gained but few adherents in England’ (23 October 1909). Mannheim said that: his style and his basic approach … were often highly intuitive, not to say fanciful. While imagination and inspiration are truly indispensable elements of scientific research, the flashes of insight have to be rigidly controlled to guard against the dangers that unconscious bias may lead to imaginary discoveries not borne out by the facts. (1965: 215) In short, it was not too difficult to identify an ardently phrased theory of monsters as itself a monstrous theory. The Times said that: The abnormal novelties and phantasms of his early writings, the almost grotesque exaggerations in which he indulged, the fanaticism with which he dogmatized, gained quickly for his theories a reputation which has steadily waned in the light of scientific research. (28 June 1911) Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009 123
  9. 9. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 124 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 124 Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2) There are those who argue quite plausibly that criminal anthropology even now lingers on in the writings of evolutionary psychology, socio-biology and developmental criminology (see Rafter, forthcoming and, for examples of those writings, Mealey, 1995 and Pitchford, 2001). There may be whiffs of Lombroso in the work of Cowie et al. (1968), but their review of ‘early studies of delinquency in girls’ starts in the 1920s, after Lombroso’s death, there is no explicit reference to Lombroso himself, and the authority for the criminal anthropological-like references is Bingham, the Gluecks and Burt, an avowed critic of Lombroso. Ann Smith alludes to Lombroso in her Women in Prison, but she does so only summarily to dismiss him. ‘On the whole,’ she concludes, ‘little evidence has been put forward to prove that physical size and development influence the delinquency of women’ (1962: 5). The tenor of all their work is like so much of its kind in England at the time, a form of rampant abstracted empiricism without theoretical commitment. Lombroso and the Lombrosians themselves had been effectively dispatched in Britain30 chiefly by Charles Goring,31 rather later by Cyril Burt,32 and more generally by the collective sense of established scientists, and one wonders why so much fuss should still be made of them, particularly by feminist criminologists. It is certainly the case that there were few enough studies of women in and around crime and criminal justice when, in the late 1960s and 1970s, feminist criminology sought first reflexively to raise itself up as a discrete and challenging theoretical project. The works of Caesare Lombroso,33 Otto Pollak (1950), W.I. Thomas (1924) and Cowie et al. (1968) seemed to stand out, and were useful, because they admirably condensed in their many ways what a nascent feminist criminology should not be. Carol Smart, whose Women, Crime and Criminology operated in 1977 (1977a), as her supervisor’s The New Criminology (Taylor et al., 1973), had operated four years before, on the principle of ‘immanent critique’, contended not only that there had been no significant pre-history of female criminology but that that quartet of studies also conveniently encapsulated the analytical, political and ideological demons which must be slain. She argued at the time that the criminological neglect of women ‘has produced a situation in which analyses … have met no theoretically informed body of criticism and ideologically informed studies have become “leading” works by default’ (1977b: 89). Lombroso, in particular, exemplified all that was to be condemned, his Criminal Woman being based ‘on the now discredited concepts of atavism and social Darwinism’ (Smart, 1977a: 31). In an analysis seemingly indifferent to the workings of meaning and social role, patriarchy and political economy, Lombroso typified women as inferior double deviants who were driven by a defective biological inheritance to recapitulate primitive traits, and what he said worked splendidly as an antithesis of a new criminology about to be born.34 Sarah Franklin, Professor of Social Studies of Biomedicine at the London School of Economics, and a former student of Carol Smart, observed that ‘probably Smart was right to use a broad sword to split open the issue of “the woman criminal”, and powerful retheorisations such as hers often “work” because they have effectively consolidated a position that was “waiting to Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009
  10. 10. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 125 Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist happen”’.35 Lombroso and feminism were to be locked in symbiotic opposition, and it was a result that Smart’s contentions were frozen in time, partly because of the canonical importance assumed by Women, Crime and Criminology in university courses across the world, and partly because a combination of their role as a foundational statement and a kind of intellectual inertia led to their being recited as if liturgically rather than being interrogated sceptically. They are the Credo of the ritual that narrates the origins of feminist criminology. Few, if anyone, have disputed that polemic, list and chronology, although numerous studies could have been cited in support of the proposition that there was actually a mass of early but inexplicably anathematized sociological and near-sociological studies of female offending36 that were of greater quality and interest than The Criminal Woman. That is the first problem, alluded to by Lindesmith and Levin (1937) in their tellingly named article on the Lombrosian myth in criminology. And there is the second problem that the masculine impersonal pronoun, then in use in criminology and elsewhere in the late 1960s and 1970s, and assumed to exclude women, might actually have been intended from time to time to cover women. Lyn Lofland, writing at just that time of transition, said in some confusion that, as to sex, I have attempted to avoid as much as possible the use of the term ‘man’ to stand for all human beings. I have also attempted to avoid excessive use of the pronouns, ‘he’, ‘his’ and ‘him’ when referring to both men and women. Neither attempt has been particularly successful. Stylistic convention makes ‘man’, ‘he’, ‘him’, and ‘his’ difficult words to avoid. (1973: xii) If her dilemma was commonplace, it would be wrong to presume that theories reported before the change in the gendering of linguistic style automatically omitted women, or that criminology was so heavily focused on men.37 Lombroso’s errors were so egregious that he became for didactic purposes the Erich von Stroheim of feminist criminology, the man they loved to hate, the ‘backdrop against which feminist criminologists have lobbed very different ideas’ (editors’ introduction to Lombroso, 2004: 3). It is an allegation put most trenchantly by Beverley Brown: [The] theme in feminist criminology has been, crudely, that traditional criminology is the theory, Holloway [Prison]—especially its psychiatric wing—the practice. An additionally cohesive force is added by feminist criminology’s emphasis on the monotonous repetition of criminology’s view of the female offender, a few basic themes reiterated from the opening shots fired in 1895 by Lombroso and Ferrero’s The Female Offender … To invoke this rhetoric is to invoke that powerful and epiphanous moment in which feminist criminology was announced, a moment of foundation and denunciation, indeed foundation-by-denunciation, when feminist criminology could simply constitute itself as Critique. (1986: 359–60) Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009 125
  11. 11. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 126 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 126 Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2) Feminist insurgency worked to effect in the world of criminology, and women have indeed been brought back in. Heidensohn noted in 1996 that: ‘Recognition that the topic of women and crime is interesting in its own right, that there have been important achievements in feminist criminology and the gendered understanding of crime is widespread’ (1996: xiii). Feminism and feminist criminology now thrive, while Lombroso exemplifies little of current note or interest (at least in Britain). If all that he has become is a latterday Emmanuel Goldstein, defined by his theoretical vices to service feminist virtue, then it is probably time to inter him and move on. Notes I am grateful to Sarah Franklin; Frances Heidensohn; Nicole Rafter; Nikolas Rose; and Bob Scott for their help in preparing this article. 1 ‘Lombroso’s distinctive merit lay, not in his scientific study of the criminal, but in his humanitarianism’, pronounced C. Goring (1919: 11). 2 See, for instance, encyclopedia.com: Although the scientific validity of [his concepts have] been questioned by other criminologists, Lombroso is still credited with turning attention from the legalistic study of crime to the scientific study of the criminal. Lombroso advocated humane treatment of criminals and limitations on the use of the death penalty. 3 4 5 6 The same or very similar sentiments may be seen in the entries of Wikipedia.org item; www.creativequotations.com; columbia encyclopedia on-line; Online Encyclopedia; and elsewhere. David Horn, for example, said that ‘criminal anthropology has been limited to a supporting role in a cautionary tale about deviant or spurious science’ (2003: 2). The Times recalled long after his death on the 30 April 1934 that he was a ‘pre-eminent figure … as the characteristic exponent of the scientific humanism of the Victorian age. He belonged to the last generation in which his peculiar distinction was still attainable’. ‘J.J.’ said that psychology ‘is still somewhat in the position of the young man who has just passed his twenty-first birthday … so very youthful and so very presumptuous’ (Science, 1885: 413). He wrote that: To say that there is a criminal nature which is degenerate is one thing, a true thing; but to go on to say that all criminals are degenerate and bear on them the stigmata of degeneracy is another and, I believe, quite false thing. I do not see for myself why crime should necessarily be degeneracy. (in Scott, 1956: 757) 7 Lucia Zedner remarked that: ‘Even at the height of Lombroso’s influence in Continental Europe, criminal anthropology was not without its critics, particularly in English-speaking countries. Apart from Ellis, most respected commentators were extremely critical of his claims’ (1991: 82). Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009
  12. 12. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 127 Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist 8 The Times of 11 September 1889 observed, for instance, ‘the tenets of the new school are probably known to few persons in this country, lawyers and jurists not excepted’. 9 It seems to have been different in the United States. Rafter said that: ‘Beset by European critics, Lombroso took comfort in his “almost fanatical” US following’ (1992: 541). 10 See the editors’ introduction to Lombroso (2004: 12). 11 His ideas were angrily contested in conferences of criminal anthropologists in Paris in 1889 and in Brussels in 1892. By 1893, it could be confidently claimed in Science that ‘the position of Lombroso … is no longer defensible. There is absolutely no fixed correlation between anatomical structure and crime’ (Anon, 1893: 83). 12 An otherwise laudatory article in The Times of 11 September 1889 remarked of the criminal anthropologists that: If their conclusions are paradoxical, some of their premises are truisms … the work of investigation is only in its infancy … Such are the chief principles and methods of the new school. We are more impressed by the uniformity of the method employed than that of the results obtained by it. In fact, the latter are strikingly conflicting. What one observer declares to be true of a type of criminals another fails to find. 13 Goring, it will be recalled, had concluded that Lombroso worked: not by methods of disinterested investigation, but, rather, by a leap of the imagination, the notion thus reached then forming the basis upon which he conducted his researches, and constructed his theory—the whole fabric of the Lombrosian doctrine, judged by the standards of science, is fundamentally unsound. (1919: 16) 14 I am grateful to Nicole Rafter for this point. 15 See Rose (1958: 53). Lombrosianism was, he said, ‘an approach alien to English modes of thought’. 16 Thus the Chairman of the Prison Commissioners for Scotland chaired a sitting of the 1901 Congress of Criminal Anthropology in Amsterdam given by Ferri (The Times, 12 September 1901). 17 See Bill Forsythe’s entry on Edmund Du Cane, the chairman of the convict prison directors between 1869 and 1895, in the on-line Dictionary of National Biography published by Oxford University Press, 2004. When Du Cane listed the causes of crime in an address to the 1872 International Penitentiary Congress, he omitted any allusion to degeneration, atavism or the like. See Pears (1912: 336). Sir Evelyn Ruggles-Bryce, Du Cane’s successor, also disowned Lombroso in his The English Prison System (1921). Lionel Fox, secretary to the Prison Commission between 1925 and 1934, and Chairman of the Prison Commission between 1942 and 1960, made no reference to Lombroso in his The Modern English Prison (1934) and The English Prison and Borstal Systems (1952). 18 For a reprise of the events leading to that study, see Lombroso-Ferrero (1914). Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009 127
  13. 13. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 128 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 128 Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2) 19 The historian of British prison medicine, Joe Sim, questioned ‘the conventional account of the history of criminology which put the Italian positivist Caesare Lombroso at the centre stage of the discipline’s development … Lombroso’s theories … were greeted with scepticism by the British medical establishment’ (1990: 130). There were exceptions, one being Dr Bruce Thompson, the surgeon to Perth Prison. 20 Thus Carlen’s Women’s Imprisonment (1983) makes no mention of Lombroso or Lombrosian ideas. 21 See Pailthorpe (1932), Epps (1951) and Woodside (1961). For one prisoner’s experience of procedures on reception, see Lonsdale (1943). 22 See ‘The Methods and Aims of Medical Education’, The Lancet (1867) No. 2, esp. p. 315. 23 The recollection of William Westcott, 1843–1925, a medical practitioner, trained at the University of London, in Gilbert (1997: 77). 24 I am grateful to Bob Scott for this idea. 25 Report of the meeting of the British Association—paper on Instinctive Criminality. The Times, 26 August 1891. 26 From a speech made at the Congress of Criminal Anthropology, Turin, 1906. 27 Porter observed that: ‘The cultural conventions of early modern times were highly prescriptive with respect to the comportment and performances of the body, beautiful or ugly, noble or base, sacred or profane, clean or dirty, healthy or sick’ (2001: 272). 28 The new school of criminologists treated the criminal as the complex product of inherited propensities and the atmosphere in which he had been brought up … In Italy the subjectivity of the criminal had been pushed to its extreme by Lombroso and Garafalo. (Mr Crackanthorpe KC, speaking at the annual meeting of the Society of Comparative Legislation, The Times, 28 February 1901) 29 Summing up his life in an editorial, The Times called him ‘this brilliant but erratic scientist’: Time has separated the mass of crudities, exaggerations, clever but inaccurate guesses, superficial reasoning about atavism and heredity, plausible deductions from DARWIN’S teaching, and much else, erroneous, sensational, and ephemeral, from the elements of truth in [his] books … One weakness of Lombroso’s somewhat visionary speculations is that physical conformation may go for little … [reference to] facts which LOMBROSO, with unwearied, if uncritical, industry had collected. (The Times, 21 October 1909) 30 Thus Hobhouse and Brockway said with conviction in 1922, a mere three years after the publication of The English Convict, The Italian criminologist, Lombroso, popularised the view that there is a criminal type … Hardly any competent criminologist now holds this view. Most of those with experience of prison populations denied it Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009
  14. 14. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 129 Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist from the first, and the matter was, we think, put beyond doubt by the publication of Dr. Goring’s “The English Convict”. (1922: 8) For a more recent judgement, see Gould (1981: 125). 31 He was unchallenged for 25 years, said Hermann Mannheim (1965: 227). 32 The Times, 20 November 1926, reported a lecture delivered at the LSE on the previous day by Cyril Burt in which he had said ‘inquiries into the causes of delinquency showed that we could no longer assume with Lombroso that the habitual criminal inherited a propensity to crime which could never be rooted out’. 33 The Criminal Woman, said Heidensohn, was the prototypical positivist study, ‘the best-known example of this trend and the only one generally cited’ (2002: 492). 34 To be sure, there are strands in Lombroso’s work that might lead one to claim that he recognized environmental factors and anticipated what was to be called ‘strain theory’. Beverly Brown (1990) certainly would make that argument. But Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman is such a jumble of inconsistent assertions about race, gender, nature, nurture and the political economy of crime that it cannot readily be accepted as a reasoned or coherent analysis of female criminality (I am grateful to Frances Heidensohn for this point). 35 In conversation. 36 See, for instance, Mayhew (1862); Cressey (1932); Reckless (1933); Hughes (1963); Cameron (1964); Morris (1965); Giallombardo (1966); Ward and Kassebaum (1966). À propos the neglected work of Mayhew, see Levin and Lindesmith (1937). 37 It is an issue revealed starkly in what was a seminal book of the then blossoming sociology of deviance, Matza’s Becoming Deviant, published in 1969. Matza, it will be recalled, followed convention and referred to the deviant throughout the bulk of his text as ‘he’. Yet when he gave three extended parables of criminological ontology at the end of the book, he chose women’s names for his characters. Where there is the obliteration of the female subject, and how can one suppose that it was practised universally in other texts without a very close reading indeed? It is an issue that has now been turned on its head with the new and equally arbitrary convention that the abstract actor be identified as ‘she’. Are we to assume that all the inhabitants of the criminological world—the police officers, judges, legislators, criminals and others—exclude men, and that theory extends only to women? References Anon (1893) ‘Review of A. MacDonald; Criminology’, Science 21(10 February): 523. Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009 129
  15. 15. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 130 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 130 Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2) Bland, L. and L. Doan (eds) (1998) Sexology Uncensored: The Documents of Sexual Science. Cambridge: Polity Press. Brown, B. (1986) ‘Women and Crime: The Dark Figures of Criminology’, Economy and Society 15(3): 355–402. Brown, B. (1990) ‘Reassessing the Critique of Biologism’, in L. Gelsthorpe and A. Morris (eds) Feminist Perspectives in Criminology, pp. 355–402. Buckingham: Open University Press. Cameron, M. (1964) The Booster and the Snitch. New York: Free Press of Glencoe. Campbell, G. (1816) The Philosophy of Rhetoric. Edinburgh: A. Constable & J. Fairbairn. Cardwell, D. (1972) The Organisation of Science in England. London: Heinemann. Carlen, P. (1983) Women’s Imprisonment. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Clark, M. and C. Crawford (1994) ‘Introduction’, Legal Medicine in History, pp. 1–22. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Clouston, T. (1894) ‘The Developmental Aspects of Criminal Anthropology’, Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 23: 215–25. Collins, W. (1902, 1903 and 1904) ‘Inaugural Address’, Transactions of the Medico-Legal Society (1 vol.). Cowie, J., V. Cowie and E. Slater (1968) Delinquency in Girls. London: Heinemann. Cressey, P. (1932) The Taxi-Dance Hall. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Davie, N. (2004) Les Visages de la Criminalité: Á la Recherche d’Une Théorie Scientifique du Criminel Type en Angleterre (1860–1914). Paris: Editions Kimé. Ellis, H. (1890) The Criminal. London: Walter Scott. Ellis, H. (1897) Man and Woman. London: Walter Scott. Ellis, H. (1898) A Note on the Bedborough Trial. London: University Press. Ellis, H. (1927) A Study of British Genius. London: Constable & Co. Ellis, H. (1931) On Life and Sex. London: Constable & Co. Ellis, H. (1936) Studies in the Psychology of Sex. New York: Random House. Epps, P. (1951) ‘A Preliminary Survey of 300 Female Delinquents in Borstal Institutions’, British Journal of Delinquency 1(3): 187–97. Fox, L. (1934) The Modern English Prison. London: George Routledge & Sons. Fox, L. (1952) The English Prison and Borstal Systems. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Gartner, R. (2004) ‘Review of Caesare Lombroso and G. Ferrero; Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman, translated and with a new introduction by Nicole Hahn Rafter and Mary Gibson’, Canadian Journal of Sociology Online September–October. Giallombardo, R. (1966) Society of Women. New York: Wiley. Gilbert, R. (1997) Revelations of the Golden Dawn. London: Quantum. Goring, C. (1919) The English Convict. London: HMSO. Gould, S. (1981) The Mismeasure of Man. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Graham-Little, E. (1939) The History of Medical Education in the Last Hundred Years, p. 8. Pamphlet reprinted from The Medical Press and Circular 201: 4. Griffiths, A. (1896) Windsor Magazine 14. Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009
  16. 16. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 131 Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist Heidensohn, F. (1996) Women and Crime (2nd edn). Basingstoke: Macmillan Press. Heidensohn, F. (2002) ‘Gender and Crime’, in M. Maguire, R. Morgan and R. Reiner (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology, 3rd edn, pp. 491–530. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hobhouse, S. and A. Brockway (1922) English Prisons To-Day. London: Longmans Green & Co. Horn, D. (2003) The Criminal Body: Lombroso and the Anatomy of Deviance. New York: Routledge. Hughes, H. (ed.) (1963) The Fantastic Lodge. London: Brown, Watson. Jacyna, S. (1995) ‘Theory of Medicine, Science of Life: The Place of Physiology in the Edinburgh Medical Curriculum, 1790–1870’, in V. Nutton and R. Porter (eds) The History of Medical Education in Britain, pp. 141–52. Amsterdam: Rodopi. Kelley, J. (1967) When the Gates Shut. London: Longmans. Kenny, C. (1910) ‘The Death of Lombroso’, Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation 10(2): 220–8. Levin, Y. and A. Lindesmith (1937) ‘English Ecology and Criminology of the Past Century’, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 27(6): 801–16. Lindesmith, A. and Y. Levin (1937) ‘The Lombrosian Myth in Criminology’, American Journal of Sociology 42(5): 653–71. Lofland, L. (1973) A World of Strangers. New York: Basic Books. Lombroso, C. (1895) The Female Offender. London: T. Fisher Unwin. Lombroso, C. (2004) Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Lombroso-Ferrero, G. (1914) ‘Charles Goring’s “The English Convict”: A Symposium’, Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology 5(2): 207–23. Lonsdale, K. (1943) Prison for Women. Chislehurst, Kent: Prison Medical Reform Council. Loudon, I. (1995) ‘Medical Education and Medical Reform’, in V. Nutton and R. Porter (eds) The History of Medical Education in Britain, pp. 229–49. Amsterdam: Rodopi. Mannheim, H. (1965) Comparative Criminology (Vol. 1). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Matza, D. (1969) Becoming Deviant. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. Maudsley, H. (1888) ‘Remarks on Crime and Criminals’, Journal of Mental Science 34(146): 159–67. Mayhew, H. (1862) London Labour and the London Poor (Vol. 4). London: Griffin, Bohn & Co. Mealey, L. (1995) ‘The Sociobiology of Sociopathy: An Integrated Evolutionary Model’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 18(3): 523–59. Morris, P. (1965) Prisoners and Their Families. London: Allen & Unwin. Morrison, W.D. (1891) Crime and Its Causes. London: Swan Sonnenschein. Morrison, W.D. (1897 [1896]) Juvenile Offenders. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pailthorpe, G. (1932) Studies in the Psychology of Delinquency. London: HMSO. Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009 131
  17. 17. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 132 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 132 Criminology & Criminal Justice 7(2) Pears, E. (ed.) (1912) Prisons and Reformatories at Home and Abroad, Being the Transactions of the International Penitentiary Congress, London, July 3–13, 1872. Maidstone: HM Prison. Peterson, M. (1978) The Medical Profession in Mid-Victorian London. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Pitchford, I. (2001) ‘The Origins of Violence: Is Psychopathy an Adaptation?’, Human Nature Review 1(5 November): 28–36. Pollak, O. (1950) The Criminality of Women. New York: Barnes/Perpetua. Porter, R. (1997) The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present. London: HarperCollins. Porter, R. (2001) Bodies Politic: Disease, Death and Doctors in Britain, 1650–1900. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Rafter, N. (1992) ‘Criminal Anthropology in the United States’, Criminology 30(4): 525–46. Rafter, N. (1997) Creating Born Criminals. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Rafter, N. (2005) ‘Evolutionary and Genetic Theories of Crime’, unpublished paper. Rafter, N. (forthcoming) ‘Cesare Lombroso and the Origins of Criminology’, in S. Henry and M. Lanier (eds) The Essential Criminology Reader. New York: Basic Books. Reckless, R. (1933) Vice in Chicago. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Rock, P. (1996) Reconstructing a Women’s Prison. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Rose, G. (1958) ‘Trends in the Development of Criminology in Britain’, British Journal of Sociology 9(1): 53–65. Ruggles-Bryce, E. (1921) The English Prison System. London: Macmillan & Co. Science (1885) ‘Illustrations of Recent Italian Psychology’, 6(144): 413–15. Scott, P. (1956) ‘Henry Maudsley’, Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science 46(6): 753–69. Sim, J. (1990) Medical Power in Prisons. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Size, M. (1957) Prisons I Have Known. London: George Allen & Unwin. Smart, C. (1977a) Women, Crime and Criminology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Smart, C. (1977b) ‘Criminological Theory: Its Ideology and Implications Concerning Women’, British Journal of Sociology 28(1): 89–100. Smith, A. (1962) Women in Prison. London: Stevens & Sons. Stafford, B. (1991) Body Criticism: Imaging the Unseen in Enlightenment Art and Medicine. Boston, MA: MIT Press. Taylor, I., P. Walton and J. Young (1973) The New Criminology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Thomas, W.I. (1924) The Unadjusted Girl. London: G. Routledge & Sons. Thompson, J. (1896) ‘Review of The Female Offender’, International Journal of Ethics 6(2): 270–1. Ward, D. and G. Kassebaum (1966) Women’s Prison. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Woodside, M. (1961) ‘Women Drinkers Admitted to Holloway Prison during February 1960’, British Journal of Criminology 1(3): 221–35. Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009
  18. 18. 117-134 CRJ-075565.qxd 28/3/07 10:52 AM Page 133 Rock—Caesare Lombroso as a signal criminologist Zedner, L. (1991) Women, Crime, and Custody in Victorian England. Oxford: Clarendon Press. PAUL ROCK is Professor of Social Institutions at the London School of Economics and occasional Visiting Professor at the Department of Criminology, University of Pennsylvania. He was educated at the LSE and Nuffield College, Oxford, and has written about the history of criminological theory and development of policies for victims of crime. Downloaded from http://crj.sagepub.com at SAGE Publications on December 16, 2009 133

×