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Catherine L. Evans




Catherine.Evans [at] utoronto.ca


Catherine Evans studies the history of the British empire, with particular interests in nineteenth-century criminal law and forensic medicine. Her current project is based on her dissertation, Persons Dwelling in the Borderland: Responsibility and Criminal Law in the Late-Nineteenth-Century British Empire. She uses sensational murder cases from a variety of imperial jurisdictions – Canada, Australia, India, and England itself – to explore how lawyers, doctors and government officials assessed defendants' responsibility for their crimes. She focuses on debates about insanity, especially moral insanity, and the role that the determinism of criminal anthropology and late-Victorian evolutionary psychology played in how legal professionals and administrators thought about criminality. By placing case narratives at the centre of her work, she hopes to offer a legal history of the British empire that is both geographically ambitious and fundamentally rooted in the lived experiences of killers and their custodians.

Catherine's research interests include colonial and imperial history, the history of psychiatry, medical jurisprudence, the history of the professions, how Western legal systems encounter the supernatural, and the relationship between jurisprudence and legal practice.

Catherine holds a B.A. in History from McGill University in Montreal (2008) and a B.A. in Jurisprudence from University College, Oxford (2010). She completed her Ph.D. in History at Princeton University in 2016. From 2015 to 2017, she was a Prize Fellow in Economics, History and Politics at the Joint Center for History and Economics at Harvard and Magdalene College, Cambridge. She is currently Assistant Professor at the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto.