Victor Toom

Victor Toom
Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR)

PhD
Long-term climate policy, climate justice

About

48
Publications
12,161
Reads
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558
Citations
Citations since 2016
17 Research Items
398 Citations
2016201720182019202020212022020406080
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2016201720182019202020212022020406080
Introduction
Before becoming a research fellow at the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) in Sept 2020, I was a scientific secretary at the Health Council of the Netherlands (2019-20) and held research posts at Goethe Uni and Northumbria (2010-2018). I was a visiting scholar at NYU, NUS and UvA. I obtained various research grants (EU Parliament, EUR 10K; Marie Curie, EUR 160K, Leverhulme Trust, GBP 87K, Nuffield Foundation, 11K). Articles appeared in numerous top journals.
Additional affiliations
March 2019 - August 2020
Gezondheidsraad
Position
  • Scientific secretary
Description
  • Scientific secretary for the committee "Admissibility of new techniques of disposing of the dead"
January 2016 - January 2019
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Position
  • Fellow
October 2010 - December 2015
Northumbria University
Position
  • Research Associate

Publications

Publications (48)
Article
Full-text available
Approximately 8,000 boys and men were killed in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. The victims were disappeared, killed and buried in secret mass graves. In this article, I examine how forensic anthropologists, demographers and forensic geneticists produced technolegal knowledge about the number of victims in the wake of the genocide; how those numbers...
Article
Full-text available
The capacity of contemporary forensic genetics has rendered “race” into an interesting tool to produce clues about the identity of an unknown suspect. Whereas the conventional use of DNA profiling was primarily aimed at the individual suspect, more recently a shift of interest in forensic genetics has taken place, in which the population and the fa...
Article
Full-text available
The automatic exchange and comparison of DNA data between national databases to combat terrorism and cross-border crime in the EU area has been facilitated by the 2008 Prüm Decisions. While it was anticipated that all EU Member States would have fulfilled the requirements by August 2011, this has not yet occurred. Once each Member State has impleme...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, I’m interested in the 2,750 victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York City. I consider two connected issues. The first regards bereavement journeys of victims’ families and the significance of receiving a body to bury vis-à-vis the normative assignment to find closure. The second issue I address is how forensic experts, their technol...
Article
Full-text available
This article empirically analyzes how victims’ remains were recovered, identified, repatriated, and retained after the World Trade Center (WTC) terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It does so by asking the question whose body is it. This question brings to the fore issues related to personhood and ownership: how are anonymous and unrecognizable...
Book
Full-text available
This collection reviews developments in DNA profiling across jurisdictions with a focus on scientific and technological advancement as well as the political and socio-legal impact. Written by leading scholars in the fields of Social Studies of Forensic Science, Science and Technology Studies and Socio-Legal Studies the book provides state-of-the-ar...
Technical Report
Full-text available
In accordance with Dutch law, a body of a deceased person can be buried, cremated or donated to science. New techniques are being developed, like alkaline hydrolysis and composting. At the request of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the Health Council of the Netherlands proposed a framework that can be utilised to assess the admi...
Article
Full-text available
The capacity of contemporary forensic genetics has rendered “race” into an interesting tool to produce clues about the identity of an unknown suspect. Whereas the conventional use of DNA profiling was primarily aimed at the individual suspect, more recently a shift of interest in forensic genetics has taken place, in which the population and the fa...
Chapter
Full-text available
While the term missing refers to various instances and practices, we focus on the bodies of deceased migrants that remain unidentified, and on the inability of families to mourn someone when there is no body to grieve for. We deploy some ethnographic fragments of how Italian communities sometimes mourn those who are buried without a name and we des...
Chapter
Border deaths are a result of dynamics involving diverse actors, and can be interpreted and represented in various ways. Critical voices from civil society (including academia) hold states responsible for making safe journeys impossible for large parts of the world population. Meanwhile, policy-makers argue that border deaths demonstrate the need f...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, provides an overview of the Prüm regime. It first considers the background of the Prüm Convention and Prüm Decision. The subsequent two chapters summarize the Prüm regime in relation mainly to...
Book
Full-text available
This study, commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, provides an overview of the Prüm regime. It first considers the background of the Prüm Convention and Prüm Decision. The subsequent two chapters summarize the Prüm regime in relation mainly to...
Article
Full-text available
Die Anwendung von DNA-Technologien in der Ermittlungsarbeit ist weder einfach noch trivial. Wer eine Ausweitung der polizeilichen Möglichkeiten in diesem Bereich fordert, sollte zunächst die Komplexität dieser Ermittlungsinstrumente zur Kenntnis nehmen: Sie birgt rechtliche, ethische und soziale Risiken, die jeden einzelnen Bürger treffen können. D...
Article
Full-text available
In a recent special issue of the journal on new trends in forensic genetics, Manfred Kayser contributed a review of developments, opportunities and challenges of forensic DNA phenotyping (FDP). In his article he argues that FDP technologies—such as determining eye, hair and skin color—should be considered as akin to a "biological witness" with the...
Article
Full-text available
Liberalism and communitarianism have figured prominently in discussions of how to govern forensic DNA practices (forensic DNA typing and databasing). Despite the prominence of these two political philosophies and their underlying values, no studies have looked at the governance of forensic DNA practices in a nondemocratic country governed by a comm...
Article
Full-text available
Terms such as “relationship testing,” “familial searching” and “kinship analysis” figure prominently in professional practices of disaster victim identification (DVI). However, despite the dependence of those identification technologies on DNA samples from people who might be related to the dead and despite also the prominence of the notion of “rel...
Article
Full-text available
Liberalism and communitarianism have figured prominently in discussions of how to govern forensic DNA typing and databasing (hereafter: forensic DNA practices). Despite the prominence of these two political philosophies and their underlying values, no studies have looked at the governance of forensic DNA practices in a non-democratic country govern...
Article
Full-text available
In 2005, seven European countries signed the so-called Prüm Treaty to increase transnational collaboration in combating international crime, terrorism and illegal immigration. Three years later, the Treaty was adopted into EU law. EU member countries were now obliged to have systems in place to allow authorities of other member states access to nat...
Article
Full-text available
How is jurisdiction transferred from an individual's biological body to agents of power such as the police, public prosecutors, and the judiciary, and what happens to these biological bodies when transformed from private into public objects? These questions are examined by analysing bodies situated at the intersection of science and law. More speci...
Article
Full-text available
How do liberal democracies govern forensic DNA databasing? That is the question being asked in this contribution by focusing on the rules for inclusion of samples/profiles in DNA databases in England and Wales and the Netherlands. The two different modes of governance shall be evaluated by taking into account models and ideas in each society regard...
Article
Full-text available
A recent issue of New Genetics and Society included an exchange between Hill (2011) and Turney (2011) discussing an earlier paper on the use of DNA identification in the Australian bushfires disaster of 2009 (Turney 2010). An editor’s introduction to the exchange solicited further observations on the issues raised by the two participants (Glasner 2...
Article
Full-text available
In a recent contribution to this journal, Kayser and Schneider reviewed the relevance of external visible characteristics (EVCs) for criminal investigation [1]. Their aim was to broaden the debate about the scientific, legal, and ethical dimensions of the use of EVCs for criminal investigation, which will help to achieve a firm legal basis for the...
Article
Available at: http://www.criminologie.nl/downloads/nvc/criminoloog/de_criminoloog_09.pdf & http://www.websitevoordepolitie.nl/columns/dna-in-strafzaken-rechter-commissaris-is-niet-een-bureaucratische-laag-maar-democratisch-vangnet-1239.html
Book
Full-text available
"For an English summary, scroll down or see http://dare.uva.nl/record/355406"; Dit boek gaat over de twintig jarige geschiedenis van het forensisch DNA-onderzoek in Nederland. Die geschiedenis wordt beschreven door in de details te treden van een verkrachtingszaak uit 1989, een inbrakenzaak uit 1998 en de verkrachting van en moord op Marianne Vaat...
Thesis
Full-text available
Dit boek gaat over twintig jaar forensisch DNA-onderzoek in Nederland. Aan de hand van een verkrachtingszaak, inbrakenzaak en moordzaak wordt licht geworpen op ontwikkelingen in genetica en wetgeving. De hoofdvraag is hoe opsporingsbevoegdheden, de mogelijkheden van de forensische genetica, individuele grondrechten en meer algemene rechtsprincipes...
Article
Full-text available
Het rechercheren op verdachte populaties herbergt een nieuwe set van juridische, normatieve en ethische problemen. Een weigering van een ‘interessant persoon’ uit een verdachte populatie om celmateriaal af te staan, maakt die persoon extra interessant. Daarmee staat het vrijwilligheidsprincipe onder druk. Personen behorend tot de verdachte populati...
Article
Full-text available
This paper takes critique of surveillance studies scholars of the shortcomings of the panoptic model for analysing contemporary systems of surveillance as a starting point. We argue that core conceptual tools, in conjunction with an under-conceptualization of agency, privilege a focus on the oppressive elements of surveillance. This often yields un...
Chapter
Full-text available
In Chapter 9 of the volume, Victor Toom describes how Dutch DNA profiling became governed through legal measures and the inquisitorial orientation of the Dutch legal system. Second, he describes the trajectory – the lines of development – of Dutch DNA profiling practices, outlining who and what has been involved in DNA profiling. This account provi...
Article
Full-text available
In het strafrecht spelen deskundigen uit andere disciplines dan het recht een steeds grotere rol. Ontegenzeggelijk is er een kenniskloof tussen juridisch geschoolde professionals en technisch-wetenschappelijk geschoolde deskundigen. Om deze kloof op het gebied van DNA-onderzoek te verkleinen wordt een kijkje genomen achter de schermen van het Leids...
Article
Full-text available
The paper uses insights from the so-called rape in disguise case study to describe forensic DNA practices in the Netherlands in late 1980s. It describes how "reliabilities" of forensic DNA practices were achieved. One such reliability - convincing evidence - proliferates body parts through time and space. Then, attention shifts to the individual wh...
Book
Full-text available
In dit rapport worden de resultaten gepresenteerd van het project ‘Ruimte voor rechtvaardigheid. Reconstructie van de dynamiek in de processen van besluitvorming over toelating van vier medische interventies (IVF, maternale serumscreening, taxoïden en rivastigmine)’. Het onderzoek is uitgevoerd binnen het programma Verdelingsvraagstukken van ZorgOn...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
In many European countries race is a taboo subject. Due to colonialism and WWII, studying race is delegated to the realm of ‘bad science’ or declared irrelevant all together. Yet, current biomedicine and forensic practices are co-shaped by techniques that depend on and explore differences between human populations. In the process, these techniques reintroduce and shape race in both science and society. But this is not done upfront. In Europe race has become an absent presence, an object that pops up, e.g. in discourse to then hide in seemingly unproblematic techniques, e.g. in genetic markers. The RaceFaceID research project seeks to open up for study this double move, in which ‘race’ gets configured but not discussed. The RaceFaceID project is an ethnographic study of race in forensic identification, in which the focus is on practices of giving a face to an unknown individual, a suspect or a victim. Although the face is generally viewed as the ultimate individual identifier, in practice individuality cannot be achieved without situating an individual in a population (M’charek 2000). Rather than defining race, we follow the relation between the individual and the population in practice and attend to instances in which this relation is translated, and wherein population comes to stand for race. The chief objective of the RaceFaceID project is to explore a) how technologies of identification rely on and reiterate racial ways of understanding differences; b) how the version of race enacted in the process changes as knowledge travels across forensic sites; and c) which mechanisms contribute to the absent-presentness of race. We study three different technologies of identifications through in-depth multi-sited ethnographies (Marcus 1995): (1) the frontier science of genetic facial phenotying (e.g. the inference of facial form, hair, skin and iris colour from DNA); (2) the established technologies of craniofacial reconstruction (facial reconstruction based on the skull); and (3) the classical facial composite (either based on sketching or computerised photofit). We therein examine how knowledge travels from forensic laboratories to courtrooms, also from the forensic laboratories to so-called Research and Development sites. Guiding the RaceFaceID project is the overarching question: How is race enacted in forensic practices? A series of sub-questions will address the answer: a) How do various technologies of identification in- and outside the laboratory enact race? b) How do versions of race change as they move between practices? c) What mechanisms work to make race an absent presence? d) What concepts are apt to theoretically grasp the name- and shape-changing nature of race? The project aims to develop a theoretical and methodological framework for studying race-in-practice. The framework is aimed at advancing our knowledge about the ways race is enacted through and materializes in technologies. It thus aims at advancing our understanding of the materiality of race in practice, not by reducing race to biology or the body, but by tracing ethnographically how race is configured as specific relations between the biological, the social and the technical. The project also aims to shed light on how the traffic of knowledge between sites implies that race is translated and made relevant in a variety of ways. To date, studies into racial configurations have concentrated on scientific settings (laboratory or clinic) or on sites where the sciences are marginal. This project will move beyond this by following the trajectory along which knowledge and technology move across diverse sites, in and out of the laboratory. It will detail how versions of race are enacted and the socio-technical relations that need to be in place to do that. Finally, it aims to advance social science by studying race as an absent presence, an object that tends to hide in seemingly unproblematic categories or in the technologies and routines of science. We will not focus on discourses (indeed the word ‘race’ often remains unspoken) but on practices and meticulously examine how race, even if not articulated, is still enacted and embedded in ways of working and in technologies. Studying race in forensic practice today is highly relevant, since forensics constitutes one of the major domains where science and society interact.
Project
This project discusses technologies and databases used for the prediction of externally visible characteristics (EVCs) and the so-called biogeographical ancestry (BGA).