Chloe Deambrogio

Chloe Deambrogio

Criminology (2014 cohort)

I am a doctoral candidate at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford. My research is supervised by Professor Carolyn Hoyle and is jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (UK) and the Amelia Jackson Senior Studentship (Exeter College, Oxford). My dissertation explores the historical development of expert and lay notions of mental illness and criminal responsibility in American capital punishment trials in the 20th century. 

Using Texas as a case study, the thesis examines the impact of shifting psychiatric approaches on legal developments, to show how the law sought to incorporate scientific findings into its judgments. Furthermore, it examines the ways in which the law, psychiatry, and popular beliefs manifest themselves in the discourses and practices of lawyers, medical experts, and lay witnesses participating in capital punishment proceedings, to identify how their interaction contributes to the legitimization of particular interpretations of the cases under analysis. 

Inspired by feminist critical theory and critical race theory, the thesis proposes the ways in which expert and lay actors discuss defendants’ characters, life-styles, and habits at trial, along with the inferences drawn from said evaluations to identify underlying pathologies and ‘dangerous’ personalities, can unveil how cultural stereotypes about race, gender, and social class frame images of insanity and criminality through time.

Prior to starting my doctorate, I conducted research for The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective (2014), a leading work in the field of death penalty studies authored by Professors Roger Hood and Carolyn Hoyle. Concurrently, I worked for Reprieve, a legal action charity dedicated to protect the human rights of death row prisoners worldwide. 

I hold a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Philosophy in Contemporary History from the University of Florence, with First Class Honours, along with a Masters of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Oxford, with Distinction.

Research interests: the death penalty, insanity and diminished responsibility, restorative justice, critical theory, cultural studies, and the sociology of punishment.