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SAMKUL-Samfunnsutviklingens kulturell

A Narratology of Criminal Cases

Alternative title: Straffeprosessens narratologi

Awarded: NOK 6.7 mill.

This interdisciplinary project's principal aim is to contribute to a better understanding of the way stories work within the Norwegian legal system. Its principal approach is that of narratology, i.e. the theory, or theories, of narrative. The project is divided into four areas of research: 1. The construction of a theoretically informed overview of all the story types included in a Norwegian criminal process, and to examine how these stories interact with each other. 2. Investigation into how stories are used and understood as evidence by Norwegian courts. 3. The analysis of stories in the courts' written judgement. How are the characters presented, how are events arranged, how are doubts and uncertainties dealt with, and how do narratives about the same crime differ when told by different courts? 4. The examination of cultural and gender biases in the criminal narrative. These four areas of research have all been continuously worked on during the project period. At our international conference "Narratives in the Criminal Process" (dec 2018) 28 contributions were presented, covering all four areas of research and more. The conference was the basis of an anthology of articles (15) at Vittorio Klostermann, edited by Helmich Pedersen, Ingebrigtsen and Werner Gephart. The scope of our research is here expanded in two directions: First by employing the narratological paradigm on the court as historiographer, in particular in connection with violent international conflics, second by looking at legal narratives and artificial intelligence and various other new media. Project leader Helmich Pedersen's article in this volume presents the theoretical innovations of the project. The full scope of these theoretical innovations will be presented in his forthcoming book "Domstolens fortellinger" (The Court's Narratives) which will be published in 2021. Postdoctoral fellow Ingebrigtsen has mainly worked with speech presentation in judgments, encompassing both narratology, legal writing and the theory of evidence. His findings are presented in the article "Talepresentasjon I straffedommer" (Speech Presentation in Criminal Judgments) (Tidsskrift for rettsvitenskap, 2019). In addition to this line of research, both Ingebrigtsen and Helmich Pedersen has worked with narratives in the police investigation, in collaboration with the Police Academy in Oslo. The results of this work are presented in the volume "Etterforskning under lupen" (A Closer Look at Police Investigation), edited by Egil Olsvik and Patrick Risan. Arild Linneberg has mainly worked on theoretical perspectives posing a challenge to the narrative paradigm within legal theory. He has founded this work on the writings of Walter Benjamin and Sigfried Kracauer and presented his findings at several international conferences. Line Hjorth held a 30% position as a researcher at the project from February 2019 till the end of June 2020. She has primarily worked on courtroom stories, where she combined a gender perspective with ordinary language philosophy. Her findings are presented in the article "Underlying Narratives in Courtroom Exchanges". She has also organized a series of public events about criminal cases at the National Library in Oslo. Her book on the Orderud case is due August 2021. Helmich Pedersen has expanded his research in connection with three collaborations: He made an analysis of pandemic narratives for an anthology of articles edited by Werner Gephart in Bonn; he made an analysis of tellebilty in press stories about violence in a volume called The Aesthetics of Violence edited by Gisle Selnes, and he is working on legal narratives about the human-robot relationship in collaboration with professor Sabine Gless in Basel. Furthermore, he has worked on transferring the project's theoretical innovations for legal narratives to the analysis of Norwegian reality literature. The project disseminated some of its case work in public meetings at the House of Literature in Bergen, focusing on possible wrongful conviction cases: The Orderud case, the Baneheia case, the Jensen case. The meetings are all available as podcasts. The project period was prolonged as a result of the global pandemic in the hope that we would be able to go through with an international closing conference, planned for 2020. While the conference had to be cancelled, a replacement workshop/webinar was held in its stead, in October 2020. Key note speakers were Simon Stern (Toronto) and Flora di Donato (Naples). The project is now concluded, but several of its articles and presentations will appear in 2021.

1) Vi har innført et narratologisk informert fortellingsparadigme i rettsvitenskapen gjennom flere vitenskapelige artikler. Paradigmet er også innført i etterforskningsteorien gjennom tre artikler. 2) Vi har bidratt til teorifornyelse innen internasjonale humanistisk rettsforskning gjennom utviklingen av et begrepsapparat til bruk i analysen av domsfortellinger. 3) Vi har grunn til å tro at prosjektet på sikt kan bidra til endringer i utformingen av faktumsbeskrivelsen i dommer. 4) Rettssikkerhet: Helmich Pedersens arbeid om Baneheia-saken er blant dokumentene som er sendt inn i den siste gjenopptagelsesbegjæringen i saken. Vi har deltatt i flere mediesaker om Baneheiasaken og Orderudsaken og vist hvordan effektive og troverdige fortellinger kan bidra til urettmessig domfellelse. 5) Prosjektets teoretiske arbeid om forholdet mellom faktuelle fortellinger og fiksjonsfortellinger har stort potensial til å overføres til forskningen på virkelighetslitteratur.

The principal aim of this project is to study stories and storytelling as a basic cultural condition underlying the Norwegian criminal process. Story construction and story interpretation make up a significant part of the criminal process and must therefore be presumed to strongly influence the outcome of any criminal case. The project seeks to gain a better understanding of the way stories work within the Norwegian legal system through narratological theory and analyses. The project's main societal relevance is its potential of reducing the risk of being unfairly treated by Norwegian courts. The project places itself within the priority area «Knowledge, Welfare and Economy», and encompasses its linguistic, communicative, normative, ethical and aesthetic dimension. The project is theoretically grounded in the research field of law and literature and in narratology. It is divided into four research tasks: 1. Constructing a narratology of the Norwegian criminal process. The central goal of this task is to map the trajectory of the story of the crime from the first police involvement with the case to the final judicial opinion. 2. Stories as evidence. The central goal of this task is to challenge assumptions in existing legal evidence theory and establish the fundamentals of a narrative evidence theory within a Norwegian context. 3. Analyses of narratives in the judicial opinion. How do the Norwegian courts typically construct the story of the crime? How are the characters presented, how are events arranged, how are doubts and uncertainties dealt with, and how do narratives about the same crime differ when told by different courts? 4. Cultural and gender biases in the criminal narrative. The aim of this task is to identify the employment of cultural and gender stereotypes in the stories told within the Norwegian criminal process.

Publications from Cristin

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SAMKUL-Samfunnsutviklingens kulturell