Tracing the Invisible. The gathering and circulation of forensic knowledge in nineteenth-century Dutch cases of criminal poisoning
Geerestein, A. van
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This thesis deals with knowledge practices in nineteenth-century Dutch cases of criminal poisoning involving arsenic. Using theories from Science and Technology Studies, it examines the production and circulation of forensic knowledge. Starting off with a praxiographic approach to the chemical and medical practices involved in these cases, this thesis examines how arsenic was made visible and how it was enacted. Forensic toxicology in particular plays a part in making the invisible visible through science. Applying Mol’s concept of enactment to the forensic investigatory methods will show what arsenic is in the locality and context of a judicial investigation. Subsequently the issue of expertise is addressed; denoting the expert as a social and cultural construct. The expert and the Dutch law both play an important role in the circulation of forensic knowledge; an inhibiting as well as a beneficial one. When examining the circulation of knowledge, this thesis will make use of the STS concepts of ‘contact zones’ and travelling knowledge.