Category Archives: UC News

New book published by Heather Wolffram

Senior Lecturer in Modern European History Heather Wolffram has just had a book published – we asked her some questions ahead of the launch next month.

Q: What is the book about?
Forensic Psychology in Germany, 1880-1939: Witnessing Crime examines the emergence and early development of forensic psychology in Germany from the late nineteenth century until the outbreak of the Second World War, highlighting the field’s interdisciplinary beginnings and contested evolution.

Initially envisaged as a psychology of all those involved in criminal proceedings, this new discipline promised to move away from an exclusive focus on the criminal to provide a holistic view of how human fallibility impacted upon criminal justice. As this book argues, however, by the inter-war period, forensic psychology had largely become a psychology of the witness.

Q: Why is this important?
A: My book looks at how and why the psychology of the witness, particularly the child witness, became important in German courtrooms in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Germany. It uses a number of sensational murder and sex crimes trials to look at how psychological expertise was applied in court and asks why forensic psychology appears to have gone into decline under the Nazis. This is the first book-length study of the history of forensic psychology in any national context and is therefore a significant contribution to the history of the field.

Q:Why is it relevant now?
A: There remains today significant concern about the reliability of witness testimony, particularly in cases where children appear as prosecution witnesses. My work shows that the kinds of debates that emerged in the 1990s around the reliability of repressed memories and juvenile witnesses, were not new and had been rehearsed in German courtrooms as early as the 1890s. My work demonstrates what some of the consequences of these earlier debates were for the treatment of juvenile witnesses and the fortunes of forensic psychologists.

Week of the geek round up

We hope you all enjoyed the festivities of Week of the geek. See the gallery of photo highlights below.  

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UC unveils sculpture, dedicates pathway on quake anniversary

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On the seventh anniversary of the 22 February earthquake, the University of Canterbury dedicated the Unicycle pathway along University Drive as a commemorative pathway to acknowledge the courage and contribution of the University community, and the losses and injuries sustained by students, staff, alumni and friends of the University in the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

As part of this dedication, a specially commissioned sculpture, Roimata, was unveiled at the Clyde Road end of the Unicycle pathway. It has been designed for UC by Māori artist Riki Manuel.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the UC Student Volunteer Army was an example of extraordinary generosity.

SVA founder Sam Johnson and former UCSA President Erin Jackson also spoke at the event. Sam said he was often asked if there would be an SVA without the earthquakes and mentioned the thousands of primary school children who took part in SVA voluntary work across New Zealand last year. He praised the ongoing momentum and strength of the current SVA and noted that the SVA is now the largest student club at the University of Canterbury.

The sculpture Roimata tells a story of remembrance, and depicts a community ritual that has emerged from a tragedy that is now an inherent part of the heritage of Christchurch. The sculpture depicts a koru facing down, as it represents a life taken before fully grown. The undulating surface is rippled, to represent the river Ōtākaro Avon, and a scattering of brass roses, cherry blossoms and daffodils on top represent the flowers that the people of Ōtautahi Christchurch throw into the river each year on 22 February, in remembrance.

After the unveiling UC staff, students and guests were invited to throw flowers onto the river to flow into the city in time for the formal remembrance service at the National Earthquake Memorial in central Christchurch.

Read Rev. Josh (Spanky) Moore’s prayer>

Be proud of this special place says Mayor>