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Emotions and allegiance in researching four mid 20th-century cases of women accused of murder

SAGE Publications
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  • Hm0481 Theory. Method. Relations To Other Subjects
  • Hv Social Pathology. Social And Public Welfare. Criminology
  • Law
  • Philosophy


This article examines methodological issues of emotion and allegiance in relation to researching, from archival sources, gender representation in mid-20th-century cases of women accused of murder. Through a discussion of four women’s cases, I explore this as a deeply ambivalent experience because the research induced both empathic and negative feelings towards the women. This seemed to conflict with my aims as a feminist researcher to highlight derogatory constructions of gender in the criminal justice system. I argue that a reflexive approach is necessary in order to carry out sensitive archival research and conclude that negotiating the attendant ambivalence and complexity deepens ethical engagement.

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