I was interviewed by The New York Times about a trend among some police departments and news outlets to end the practice of releasing and publicizing mug shots of people accused of crimes, absent an immediate public safety reason to do so. I discussed how these mug shots have been used historically, including being displayed to the public in “rogue’s galleries” and interpreted by social scientists and eugenicists to associate certain facial features with crime. Thus the photographs began to feed “the false notion that it’s possible to read criminality on a person’s body.”
Jennifer Tucker is a historian who studies the interrelations of art and science, photography, and mass visual culture, with a specialization in 19th to mid-20th century British, U.S., and trans-Pacific history. The common threads in her diverse research fields are the dynamics of visual media in modern history, the nature of evidence, public perceptions and practices of history, and the interrelationships of science, technology, and the law.