Dissecting Jack-the-Ripper: An Anatomy of Murder in the Metropolis

Hurren, Elizabeth. ‘Dissecting Jack-the-Ripper: An Anatomy of Murder in the Metropolis’. Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies 20, no. 2 (2016): 5–30 (URL: https://journals.openedition.org/chs/1667).

Abstract

Jack-the-Ripper has been an historical prism for international studies of crime, history and societies. This article re-examines the infamous violent homicides from a new medical perspective. In a cold case review, original evidence of a secret trade in the dead poor is presented, neglected in crime historiography. Trafficking in bodies and body parts to teach human anatomy to medical students was the norm in the East End of London in 1888. The business of anatomy – peopled by body dealers and their accomplices – had the medical infrastructure to provide a deadly disguise for the serial killings. Those that fell from relative to absolute poverty, in death, supplied dissection tables in major teaching hospitals across London. Its social wallpaper could conceivably have camouflaged homicide in the Metropolis.

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