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Women in Crime: Female Convicts in the Late 19th Century Habsburg Galicia
Speaker: Dr. Ivanna Cherchovych (Research Fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology of Ethnology Institute of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine; short-term Jacyk researcher)

Chair: Lynne Viola (Professor of History, University of Toronto)

Dr Cherchovych's study will address women’s criminal experience, in particular so-called female crimes - infanticide, child abandonment, abortions, which were examined by Lviv Regional Court (Sąd Krajowy Lwowa) during 1865-1905. Who the convicted women were, what life experiences they shared? How did they shape their crimes into stories and what these stories meant? How they talked about their guilt and how in such stories they found a place for their own victimity? For the majority of the accused their act was not the only way out but just one of the chosen options. Why did they choose it? Dr. Cherchovych intends to show how often women who by default were denied the opportunity to choose, according to widely spread perception about mandatory natural women crime conditionality and potential deviancy of women, were able to take advantage of that judgement. The question of Can the Subaltern Speak? (by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak) in regards to the late 19th century Eastern Galician society would have a rather positive answer. As analyzed cases confirmed, the quality of accused woman self-defence in a court had played one of the most important roles in her sentence: the scale of the judgment given by a court had been directly correlated with a woman's will or unwillingness to speak for herself, to create her own story. Not the education was the most important here (the majority of the accused were illiterate), but rather the very possibility to create her own self-narration which plot would have to go beyond personal life of the accused as vividly as possible covering her surroundings, many others whose social practices this woman had absorbed and had been reproducing.

May 19, 2022 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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