HomeInfanticide from Antiquity to the mid-19th century (Europe, colonial and postcolonial Americas)

HomeInfanticide from Antiquity to the mid-19th century (Europe, colonial and postcolonial Americas)

Infanticide from Antiquity to the mid-19th century (Europe, colonial and postcolonial Americas)

L’infanticide de l’Antiquité au milieu du XIXe siècle (Europe, Amériques coloniales et postcoloniales)

*  *  *

Published on Friday, June 28, 2019


L’infanticide est le meurtre du nouveau-né ou du nourrisson perpétré dans la plupart des cas, mais pas seulement, par la mère. Il s’agira de faire le point sur un sujet peu étudié, dans une perspective historique (et non pas clinique ou pathologique) de l'Antiquité au milieu du XIXe siècle. Sans prétendre à une quelconque exhaustivité, les axes à envisager sont nombreux : de la question des sources et des archives en passant par les différents champs d'investigation, de la notion même d'infanticide à toute époque avec les différences de vocabulaire que cela implique, des acteurs qui verbalisent aux législations et leurs applications...



Infanticide is the murder of a newborn or an infant perpetrated most of the times, but not always, by the mother. We welcome any study of the following topics (the list is by no means comprehensive)

  • Sources, archives and investigation fields: anthropology, archeology, criminology, demography, epigraphy, history, art history, crime history, law history, history of medicine, iconography, semiotics, literature, philosophy, legal sources, literary sources, the new frontier of biology in the humanities.
  • Myths, literature, the massacre of Innocents, fantasy and infanticide.
  • Ambiguity of the gesture: abandonment or exposure as forms of infanticide? As we focus on the death of the child, the abandonment which is not followed by death is excluded from the field of reflection.
  • The notion: the word infanticide/infanticidium varies from its first appearance in Tertullian’s Apologeticus (v.197), and reappears under different designations throughout time and in different languages – homicide, abortion, parricide, suffocation, etc.
  • Punishing infanticide: preachers, jurists, philosophers, pedagogues, accused, accusers, witnesses, informers.
  • Sociology of the agents of the crime: mother, father, family, couple, women, maids, vagrants, prostitutes, workers, ecclesiastics, nuns, men, legal agents, doctors and surgeons, midwives, nurses, members of the church gens, wizards and witches…
  • Circumstances: Killing out of the womb (suffocating, stabbing, throwing into the cesspool or the latrine, burying or drowning, strangling…), sex ratio thus a theorized elimination which is set up and, according to circumstances, applied.
  • Chronology: the aim is to review a topic which has been little studied from a historical viewpoint (and not clinical or pathological) over the length of time stretching from Antiquity to the positivist break of the modernity (mid-19th century)
  • The area under study is that of Europe and colonial and postcolonial Americas, including the way those civilizations looked at the ‘other’, but not limiting this field to that (missionaries, travelers, etc.)
  • Accusing the other of infanticide: antisemitism, wars of religion, puritanism, the Affair of the Poisons, witch-hunt…
  • The role of religion (paganism, Catholicism and Protestantism), …
  • All the various places where the bodies are found.
  • The laws in the different countries, the measures of prevention. The law and its implementation. The changes in time. The Roman legacy (Theodosian and Justinian codes), councils and synods of the Church Fathers, Penitentials, Decretals… Treatises from jurists, the Encyclopedia, Beccaria, Pestalozzi…
  • Preventing and controlling infanticide: presumption of innocence (declaration of pregnancy), …
  • The question of evidence: the corpus delicti, the investigation, forensic expertise, and therefore the role of forensics, the sentences.
  • Punishing and condemning: norms and practices (death sentence, clemency of the judge, imprisonment).

Languages: We accept contributions in French or English. (It is necessary to understand French in order to follow the conference and participate in the discussions)

Chronological field: from Antiquity to the 19th century.

Dates: Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 May 2020 

Location: University of Artois, Arras, 9 rue du Temple

Submission Guidelines

Proposals in English or French of 500 words maximum with a short biographical note should be sent by 20 October 2019. Please send abstracts to Elena Taddia and Pascal Hepner: elenataddia@hotmail.fr ; pascal.hepner@univ-artois.fr

Publication: The conference proceedings will be published.


  • Pascal Hepner (Université d’Artois - France)
  • Elena Taddia (Université de la Vallée d’Aoste- Italy) 
  • Martine Valdher (Université d’Artois - France)

Scientific committee

  • Anne Gagey (Université d’Artois - CREHS, Arras France)
  • Gregory Hanlon (Dalhousie University, Halifax Canada)
  • Pascal Hepner (Université d’Artois - CREHS, Arras France)
  • Tanguy Le Marc’hadour (Université d’Artois - Centre Ethique et procédure, Douai France, Centre d’Histoire judiciaire UMR 8025 CNRS-Lille 2)
  • Elena Taddia (Université de la Vallée d’Aoste, Italy)


  • Maison de la recherche - salle des colloques - 9, rue du Temple
    Arras, France (62000)


  • Sunday, October 20, 2019


  • justice, infanticide, expertise médico-légale, meurtre, enfant


  • Elena Taddia
    courriel : elenataddia [at] hotmail [dot] fr
  • Pascal Hepner
    courriel : pascal [dot] hepner [at] univ-artois [dot] fr
  • Martine Valdher
    courriel : martine [dot] valdher [at] univ-artois [dot] fr

Information source

  • Pascal Hepner
    courriel : pascal [dot] hepner [at] univ-artois [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Infanticide from Antiquity to the mid-19th century (Europe, colonial and postcolonial Americas) », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, June 28, 2019, https://doi.org/10.58079/1336

Archive this announcement

  • Google Agenda
  • iCal
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search