Cesare Lombroso and the Science of Criminology

Mary Gibson, John Jay College

Cesare Lombroso is widely-known as the “father of criminology,” but the Italian context of his life and thought is generally misunderstood or entirely ignored. Often identified only with his famous notion of the “born criminal,” Lombroso in fact produced a more complex theory that also incorporated psychological and social factors. As a supporter of Italian unification, a pioneer in psychiatry, a Jewish citizen in the new liberal state, and a socialist at the end of his life, Lombroso was a major figure in Italian national life and the international field of criminology. Mary Gibson will analyze Lombroso’s theories of “criminal man” and “criminal woman” in relation to the political, social, and cultural currents of his day.