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Representations of Killing in Fiction and Political Discourse (In-person)

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A police officer stands guard a crime scene

About this event

Join Prof Mick Finlay for an evening exploring Social Psychology and crime fiction.

Please join us for the talk from 6pm, with a drinks reception from 7pm.

This event takes place on our Cambridge campus. You can also join us virtually.

Representations of Killing in Fiction and Political Discourse

Mick Finlay is an academic teaching and conducting research in Social Psychology. He also writes crime novels. In this talk, he brings together these two interests, discussing how the way we present violent deaths in fiction has implications for the reader, while the way we describe the deaths of civilians in war has implications for the citizen. The first part describes the various methods used to represent murders in crime fiction and reflects on the attractions of writing and reading about crime. In the second part, we move into the real world, looking at some of Mick’s research into how groups rationalize violence. Drawing on ideas of wilful ignorance and competitive victimhood, examples are presented that illustrate how people describe the killing of civilians in ways that protect the moral identity of the perpetrator group and enable individuals to avoid recognizing the violence of those they identify with. Examples will be drawn from Nazi Germany, Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Trigger warning: this talk will refer to sensitive and contentious present-day conflicts that attendees may have emotional identifications with.


Mick is a Professor of Social and Applied Psychology in the School of Psychology and Sports Sciences, ARU, where he leads the Social Justice and Empowerment Research Group. He has two main research areas: political communication, loyalty and persuasion in situations of group conflict and violence, and topics related to the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. He is an Associate Editor for the British Journal of Social Psychology and Expert Evaluator for the European Commission’s Horizon programme. Mick is also a writer, and has published four well-received historical crime novels in the Arrowood series.

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