University of Hertfordshire

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‘Almost Unknown Amongst the Jews’: Jewish Women and Infanticide in London 1890–1918

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-135
JournalThe London Journal
Volume37
Issue2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012

Abstract

This paper is the first work to explore the cases of the small number of identifiable Jewish women tried for infanticide at the Central Criminal Court between 1890 and 1918. Although the Jewish population of London (and indeed Britain) was facing increasing anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the cases discussed here were treated with equivalent leniency to those of other women charged with newborn child murder and concealment of birth in this period. Despite the very different circumstances of each case, the defendants were able to fit the story of their crime into a highly recognizable script that dovetailed neatly with the dominant discourse of ‘the infanticidal’ shared by both popular and elite British society. In examining these trials, a forgotten aspect of Jewish metropolitan life is revealed, and new light is thrown on the complicated way in which ethnicity might — or might not — play out in criminal justice proceedings.

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