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Habilitation à diriger des recherches

L'esprit criminel sous l'oeil de la science. (19e-20e siècles)

Abstract : The present dissertation puts in a critical perspective the research carried out since 1997. A preliminary note raises some epistemological issues related to the history of human sciences (What is its purpose ? How can the historian address it ? What specificity for the history of sciences ?). The first part of the synthesis provides some items for an answer while dealing with the stakes of medicine which are divided into three sections : a “cultural” approach of the phrenological movement in France, addressing and practising hygiene (the evolution of the medical approach on suicide, the activity of the “hygienist party” within the AFAS, from 1883 to 1902) and the institutionalisation of mental reports in the 19th century. The second part proceeds with this reflexive assessment starting from “criminal sciences”, arranged according to three dimensions of present criminological knowledge : the criminal body, the criminal feeling and the criminal law, which draws up the normative framework of criminological knowledge. What is the plausible genealogy as these entangled histories ? What is the status of emergent knowledge ? What status for history in front of disciplinary memories and Michel Foucault's work ? Which possible dialogue with the contemporary actors in these fields ? The third part of this synthetic dissertation presents the actions carried out on one's own responsibility (administrative and scientific), in particular the collective setting up of the “criminocorpus” website, as well as current or future research (mental assessment and psychiatry in the 20th century, a case of parricide in 1932, phrenology in “literature”). Research on medico-legal reports will have to centre its analysis on the making of expert diagnosis, on the bringing to light the possible specificity of the semiology of the medico-legal field, the evolution of its stakes and clinical forms starting from a corpus of reports to be analysed. Spreading over the 1935-1975 period, this corpus should make it possible to test the assumption of an increasing accountability of the perpetrators of sexual offences. Beyond this type of offence, one will check whether it is possible to bring to light a change of the clinic in its relation with the concept of responsibility/irresponsibility, a typology of the cases of penal irresponsibility and a chronology of its transformations. This dynamics of research is stirred by new crucial issues, pinpointed in fine of this dissertation : the traces of the past, the fair restitution, the methods and stakes of popularisation.
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Habilitation à diriger des recherches
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Contributor : Marc Renneville <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, April 25, 2007 - 9:49:48 PM
Last modification on : Friday, October 23, 2020 - 4:48:23 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - 3:27:54 AM


  • HAL Id : tel-00143557, version 1


Marc Renneville. L'esprit criminel sous l'oeil de la science. (19e-20e siècles). Histoire. Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), 2007. ⟨tel-00143557⟩



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