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JACK THE RIPPER: NEW CONVERSATIONS (University of Northampton, August 2022)

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  • JACK THE RIPPER: NEW CONVERSATIONS (University of Northampton, August 2022)


    26-28 AUGUST 2022

    DREW GRAY (Northampton University); NEIL BELL (Leicestershire Police Archive); ADAM WOOD (Ripperologist magazine)


    In recent years the academic disciplines of History and Criminology have begun to engage seriously with ‘popular’ and local histories of the Whitechapel murders and the crimes associated with the mythic character known as ‘Jack the Ripper’. However, we believe that within this emerging bank of scholarship, (which started with Feminist critiques, in the later 1980s), there remains a significant void.

    We believe that within the collaboration of voices, research, and politics that have approached this horrific history from many conflicting standpoints, some voices, irrespective of their expertise on the subject matter, have been omitted. We feel that it is now the time to challenge this and to develop new relationships so that we can start ‘new conversations’ about the crimes of the ‘Ripper’.

    We intend for this conference to be a place where we can reflect on the crimes, and their location; consider the way they have been chronicled and exploited; and the effects they continue to have on the communities and peoples of the East End of London and beyond.

    In recent years we have seen numerous attempts to solve the ongoing mystery of the killer’s identity but also an increasing interest in the murderer’s victims and their life stories. There has continued to be a public interest in how the murders and the area surrounding them – Spitalfields and Whitechapel – have been presented, commemorated and exploited for commercial value. The opening (and subsequent closure) of a Jack the Ripper museum and the use of projected images of the violence meted out to ‘Jack’s’ victims on walking tours are just two examples of the contested narrative surrounding these brutal killings. The controversy sparked by the publication of, and reaction to, a bestselling popular history of the killer’s victims has also reignited debates on the value of ongoing research into the Whitechapel murder case.

    We are calling for conference papers, workshops, poster displays, etc., that address the following themes:

    • Jack the Ripper in history, criminology, and popular culture;
    • The presentation of ‘dark history’; ‘dark tourism’;
    • The role of archives and libraries in the public and community history of East London;
    • Attitudes to prostitution and sex workers;
    • Policing the East End;
    • ‘Jack the Ripper’ and violence against women,
    • Prejudice and stereotyping of immigrants;
    • Life in the East End living under the shadow of ‘Jack the Ripper’ (past and present)
    • Education and the East End (past, present and future)

    This is not an exhaustive list and we would welcome any input from interested parties as to topics/themes that we might cover.

    Along with social, cultural and crime historians, criminologists and other academics, we would particularly like to encourage submissions from local history groups and residents; school teachers/educationalists, sex-workers, women’s charities and other organizations who work alongside them, as these are the groups we feel, that remain significantly under-represented in the revisions in the history of the Whitechapel Murders. We intend this to be a conference that is public facing, inclusive and engaging, for people of all backgrounds.

    We welcome long and short papers, poster presentations, workshops, and other alternative ways of sharing knowledge with others.

    We believe this conference should provide a platform and new experience for individuals and groups who are not normally invited to participate in conferences and discussions. Moreover, we think it important that some widely held or otherwise established views about the murders, history of the area, and its culture are challenged by this process, allowing new conversations to emerge and develop. We would like to bring different groups and services together so that they can learn from each other and begin to create a new narrative for the community and help address some historical and contemporary issues that continue to affect local people.

    Please send expressions of interest/abstracts to [email protected] using the email subject heading ‘New Conversations on the Ripper’.
    Closing date is Monday 4 April 2022.

    The conference will take place at the University of Northampton from Friday 26 August 2022 to Sunday 28 August 2022.