Stories that Are Skyscraper Tall: The Place of ‘Tall Tales’ in Narrative Criminology

Carmen Wickramagamage, Jody Miller

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Narrative criminology has made stories respectable again, despite criminology’s long-professed ties to a model of positive science. Given the field’s continued scepticism about the ‘truthfulness’ of stories, narrative scholars have grappled carefully with the place and utility of lies for understanding the social worlds and individual identities of crime-involved populations. In this chapter, we draw from a study of women’s pathways to incarceration in Sri Lanka, analysing the case of one study participant who shared with us many ‘tall tales’ about their life. In comparing Daya’s account with those of other participants, we explore the complex relations among ‘truth,' ‘fiction’ and ‘lies,' and their implications for narrative criminology. We offer specific cautions about the place of verisimilitude and plausibility in narrative criminologists’ efforts to make sense of offender narratives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Emerald Handbook of Narrative Criminology
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781787690059
ISBN (Print)9781787690066
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


  • Gender
  • Gender identity
  • Plausibility
  • Plotlines/storylines
  • Sexual identity
  • Sri Lanka
  • Verisimilitude


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