Cesare Lombroso

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Lombroso, Cesare

(chĕ`zärā lōmbrô`zō), 1835–1909, Italian criminologist and physician. In 1876 he published a pamphlet setting forth his theory of the origin of criminal traits. In the study, later enlarged into the famous L'uomo delinquente (5th ed., 3 vol., 1896–97; partial tr. as Criminal Man, 1911), he compared anthropological measurements and developed the concept of the atavistic, or born, criminal. In his later works, less importance was given to that concept. Although the scientific validity of the concept has been questioned by other criminologists, Lombroso is still credited with turning attention from the legalistic study of crime to the scientific study of the criminal. Lombroso advocated humane treatment of criminals and limitations on the use of the death penalty.


See biography by H. G. Kurella (tr. 1911).

Lombroso, Cesare


Born Nov. 6, 1835, in Verona; died Oct. 9, 1909, in Turin, Italy. Italian forensic psychiatrist and anthropologist; founder of the anthropological trend in bourgeois criminology and criminal law.

Lombroso graduated from a university in Pavia in 1858 and was appointed a professor there in 1862. Beginning in 1896 he was a professor at the University of Turin. Lombroso considered crime to be a natural phenomenon like birth or death. He developed the theory of innate criminality according to which individuals are born criminals, not made criminals. He worked out a system of characteristics of the “innate criminal,” which supposedly indicates whether the individual in question is capable of becoming a criminal or not. The physical features (stigmata) that according to Lombroso characterize a criminal include a flattened nose, sparse beard, and low forehead, all characteristics of “a primitive man or an animal.” In his early works he attached great importance to the biopsychological factors of criminality, but in his later works he came to recognize the importance of the sociological causes of criminality. On this basis, his theory is a biosociological one. Although the very first testing of Lombroso’s theory proved its scientific unsoundness, the theory nevertheless long retained a leading role in bourgeois criminology.


L’uomo delinquente, vols. 1-3, 5th ed. Turin, 1896-97.
In Russian translation:
Noveishie uspekhi nauki o prestupnike. St. Petersburg, 1892.


Reshetnikov F. F. Ugolovnoe pravo burzhuaznykh stran. Moscow, 1966.
References in periodicals archive ?
199 (1911) (reviewing CESARE LOMBROSO, CRIME: ITS CAUSES AND REMEDIES (1911)) (recommending Lombroso's emphasis on "the search for causes of crime, with a view to prevention and repression" to "those who make daily practice of the modern theory on the bench and at the bar"); H.
Part I of this Article introduces positivist theory--with particular emphasis on the works of Cesare Lombroso, Enrico Ferri, and Raffaele Garofalo--and traces positivism's reception in the United States.
Antisemitism, Misogyny, and the Logic of Cultural Difference: Cesare Lombroso and Matilde Serao.
The theory of maternal impressions can be read as an attempt, on the part of literature, popular understanding or folklore, and science (above all, medicine and anthropology, disciplines that are indissolubly linked in figures such as Cesare Lombroso and Paolo Mantegazza), to bridge the gap between body and language, sexual reproduction and the metonymic structures of desire.
Cesare Lombroso clothes his discussion of cravings and birthmarks with a more scientific and less subtly misogynous language: unlike his colleague and former friend Mantegazza, whose pedagogical aims are obvious throughout his works, Lombroso did not aim to reach and teach (and, perhaps, please) the general public.
In contrast (but at times also disturbingly in collusion) with the morbid, even abject reproduction of the maternal body in the writings of Gabriele D'annunzio as well as Paolo Mantegazza and Cesare Lombroso, the often ambiguous figurations of Neera, Grazia Deledda, and Maria Messina vacillate between sympathy for the condition of the pregnant woman and distaste for her altered looks, with a striking ambivalence that must constitute a symptomatic point of entry into the analysis of these women's texts.
Paolo Mantegazza and Cesare Lombroso clearly do not, though one of the effects of their silencing of the female body is, as Mary Poovey has convincingly argued about British doctors, "an excess of meanings, and the contradictions that emerge within this excess undermine the authority that medical men both claim and need" (152).
Cambon's guest spirits had the grace to humour the mistress of the house in her ideas about art, politics and occultism; once, the famous psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso appeared in a seance in order to make amends for having been sceptical about spiritualism.
Of particular interest to scholars will be his detailed analyses of the work of leading figures in the development of German criminology from its origins among nineteenth-century moral statisticians and critics of the Italian phrenologist Cesare Lombroso to internationally-renowned, turn-of-the-century experts in criminal law and criminal psychiatry, respected Weimar sociologists, and finally Nazi-period criminal biologists and eugenicists.
Mary Gibson & Nicole Hahn Rafter, Introduction to CESARE LOMBROSO, CRIMINAL MAN 1 (Mary Gibson & Nicole Hahn Rafter eds.
IN the 19th-century, Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso spoke of "left-handedness being a stigma of degeneracy.