It has take me a little longer to write this post due to the whirlwind of activity since the conference. However, I wanted to reflect on what was a very positive and academically stimulating conference. This years conference was organised by Sheffield Hallam University. They did an excellent job with both the postgraduate conference and the main event. During the postgraduate event I chaired three panels that looked at turning your thesis in to a book, writing, and job hunting. All were very interesting and useful, both now and in the future. Thank you to all of the organisers, from both Sheffield Hallam and the British Society of Criminology.
In the main conference I chaired two panels: ‘Creative Criminology’, and ‘Rehabilitating women in the community? 10 years post-Corston (2007)’. This blog is a short examination of each presentation.
In this session I presented my PhD research which uses creative visual methods of data collection within a participatory action research framework. I argue that the increasing use of creative methods within criminology has transformative potential within the discipline.
‘Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain in to a new one. And the definition of a creative person is: someone whose thoughts or actions change a domain, or establish a new domain. It is important to remember, however, that a domain cannot be changed without the explicit or implicit consent of a field responsible for it’ (Czikszentmihalyi, 1997, p. 28).
As visual criminology becomes increasingly established and accepted as part of the discipline, it has paved the way from more creative approaches to criminological research. Growing Feminist research in criminology, and an increasing focus upon social harm perspectives, provides a context within which can creative criminology become a part of criminologists methodological tool kit. Particularly, in uncovering the hidden experiences of those subject to structural oppression.
Within this presentation I demonstrated how working with women who had been criminalised, co-producing a photovoice project and the production of narrative maps, had posed a challenge to dominant theories of desistance. Asking us to re-think desistance, not as a process of change, but as resistance to processes of criminalisation.
Within the panel ‘rehabilitating women in the community? 10 years post-Corston’ I presented critical reflections on the role of the women’s centre; from personal experience, as an attendee of a women’s centre in 2008-2009, and from the perspectives of the women within my PhD research.
Identifying ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ as a key moment that has challenged aims of female empowerment and emancipation, by re-situating women’s centres as uniquely able to facilitate gendered community punishment. My research offers a strong critique of the way such acts of social policy have transformed parts of the third sector in to agents of social control and facilitators of punishment.
In order to ensure survival, women’s centres are increasingly bidding for punishment contracts, and when these are awarded, the emphasis of the centre becomes ensuring compliance, rather than challenging structural inequality and gendered oppression.
The findings of my PhD combine creative criminology and the examination of gendered community punishment to challenge the concept of desistance, offering the alternative view of resistance to the processes of criminalisation. This leads to an examination of gendered spaces of punishment, and the case of institutional warehousing of criminalised women. Extending the stigma, emotional impact and physical realities of punishment far beyond the length of the original order.
I also presented a poster bringing together the two separate presentations (see above). The conference facilitated brand new academic connections, and allowed the time to strengthen existing professional and personal relationships with many valued colleagues within criminology. The result of this is that I have been invited to guest lecture this summer, and I have made valuable contacts with international colleagues working in similar areas of criminology and criminal justice. For me the value in attending conference has been significant, and is yet to be fully realised through these new relationships. Once again, many thanks to the organisers and all who attended for making this such a rich and inspiring experience. Roll on #BSCconf18 in Birmingham!