The spectre of crime: photography, law and ethics

Katherine Biber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


A grainy series of surveillance photographs was tendered into evidence at the trial of a young Aboriginal man accused of robbing a bank. Two police officers testified that they recognised him from the photographs. On appeal to the High Court of Australia, the judges thought that the hooded bandit in the image looked like the spectre from Hamlet. This article uses the discourse of "spectrality" to explore the consequences for law and ethics when haunted by the transgressive image. It examines the confrontation between the foundational illegality of the Australian nation, and the indigenous man who is accused of a crime against property.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-149
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Semiotics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • race
  • crime
  • photography
  • Aboriginality
  • spectre
  • Hamlet


Dive into the research topics of 'The spectre of crime: photography, law and ethics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this