Southernising Criminology: Reflections on a journey to democratising knowledge

Professor Kerry Carrington from QUT Centre for Justice is presenting a seminar at the ‘Decolonising Criminology Network Group’ at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge on Friday 12 February at 9.00am (Friday 12 February at 7pm BRISBANE TIME).

The group was formed in January, 2020 with the aim to bring together students, researchers and eminent scholars in the field of criminology or related fields to discuss and engage with decolonial thought and perspectives. More importantly, the group focuses on identifying and encouraging non-western and indigenous scholarship that has largely been neglected, but assumes high criminological relevance in recent times.

Kerry will speak on “Southernising Criminology:  Reflections on a journey toward democratising knowledge“.  Kerry’s abstract is here:

Criminology as a field of knowledge has a highly selective focus on crime and violence in the large population centres of the Global North. The criminological gaze has, to an overwhelming extent, also been a peace-time research endeavour focused on the problems of pacified nation states of the global north.  It has had little to say about the violence of nation building, of empire and settler colonialism, and the role of war, enslavement, exploitation and convict transportation in these historical processes. This has stunted the intellectual development of the field, while perpetuating the relative neglect of crime and violence outside the metropole.

In this presentation I reflect on the journey of correcting this bias by southernizing criminology – a project that aims to recover voices from the periphery with a view to democratising knowledge. Southern criminology is not a new narrative or criminological brand, but rather a new way of harnessing and expanding the experiences, biographies and knowledges from the periphery, for the purpose of advancing human rights and global justice.  Those peripheries cut across the global south and north, as there are enclaves of the south in the north and vice versa (ie. Ireland is England’s southern enclave metaphorically). Southern is a metaphor for conceptualising these historical power dynamics.

The Southernising project steers a tricky pathway by acknowledging that knowledge is so embedded with metropolitan thought it is not possible to completely disentangle it from its hegemony, a key differentiation from post-colonialism. But it is possible to pluralise, democratise and de-centre knowledge production by injecting it with theory and innovation from the periphery. The Southernising of criminology is not a destination but an open-ended journey inclusive of multiple subaltern voices including Indigenous, ethnic and gendered voices, that seek to recover the historical violence of colonisation, to generate theoretical and empirical inventiveness from outside the centres of colonial power. The journey emancipates scholars from dependence on, and deference to, imported concepts, theories and methods that underpin dominant anglophone criminological paradigms. The journey does not start or end by trashing the conceptual and empirical advances in criminology, but more usefully by de-centring and democratising the toolbox of available criminological concepts, theories and methods, which ironically may ultimately enrich that toolbox.

The Zoom link to register is included here:

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