Friday, 14 December 2018

Historical Criminology Conference 2019

Call for papers

#HCNet are pleased to announce the inaugural event of the BSC Historical Criminology Network, in association with the BSC South West Branch. The conference will take place at the University of Plymouth on 9-10 April 2019. Confirmed plenary speakers  provides an open forum for discussion of relations between past and present in criminological research. It seeks to advance the Network’s aim to promote, develop and embed historical approaches to criminology.

'Linking past and present in criminological research'

Confirmed plenary speakers include Prof Barry Godfrey (University of Liverpool) and Dr Kate Lister (Leeds Trinity University).The Historical Criminology Network invites proposals for papers discussing connections between past and present in crime and/or criminal justice (both broadly conceived). Presenters at all career stages are welcome. Papers which engage with multiple disciplinary perspectives, or which derive from interdisciplinary collaboration, are especially encouraged. Papers may address connections between past and present in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to) a focus on:

  • The historical origins of contemporary problems
  • Parallels between past and present
  • The role of history and memory in public understanding of crime and justice  
  • The status of the present as an historical period
  • The uses of history for criminological theory
  • ‘Historic’ crimes/injustices and their contemporary legacies

To submit a paper, please send a 200 word abstract to David Churchill (d.churchill [at] leeds [dot] ac [dot] uk) by Friday 8 February 2019. If you have any questions, please contact David in the first instance. 

Black and white photograph of a monument and skyline from a slightly raised position with tiny people in the foreground on an open space.
Plymouth, 1960 by Brian Clift via CC-BY-SA-2.0


Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Job Opportunity: Fellow, Stanford University

Fellowship for recently completed PhDs

The Center for Law and History at Stanford University, California, has announced a job opportunity. They say: 
'This fellowship is intended for people who have recently completed (or will soon complete) their training in law and history and who seek thereafter to pursue their first tenure-track academic position at the intersection of the two fields.'
The application deadline is 15th February 2019. Click here to find out more.

A black and white photograph of a marble floor from the point of view of a second floor interior balcony. The balconies and floor beneath are round, the pattern on the floor an overlapping floral geometric pattern in three shades of marble. The balconies have iron railings and the middle of the floor design is off-centre in the image.
Black & White Justice (Iowa Judicial Building), 2014 by Phil Roeder via Flickr CC-BY-2.0


Monday, 3 December 2018

BSC Conference 2019

Dates and theme announced

Members of the BSC Historical Criminology Network look forward to meeting at the annual conference of the British Society of Criminology, which in 2019 will be held from the 2nd to the 5th of July at the University of Lincoln. This year the theme will be ‘Public Criminologies: Communities, Conflict and Justice’. More information can be found on the BSC website’s conference page here.

The call for abstracts opens on 7th of January 2019 when our blog will publish a reminder. The deadline for abstracts is 17th of May 2019. Feel free to comment below if you are planning a panel and looking for participants.

Black and white photograph of a Victorian prison interior with whitewashed walls and vaulted ceiling and two tiers of metal railings forming balconies. The middle balcony is at the level of the photograph point of view and shows cell door openings on both sides. There are figures in the middle distance of the image on the central balcony, looking into a cell.
'The Victorian Prison - inside Lincoln Castle' (2015) by bvi4092 via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Leeds Historical Criminology Seminar

‘Funding Justice or Fuelling Crime? The Political Economy of Crime and Justice in Historical Perspective’

The next meeting of the Leeds Historical Criminology Seminar will take place on Friday, the 25th of January 2019, at the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies, University of Leeds. 

Featuring presentations from Pam Cox (University of Essex), Ruth Lamont (University of Manchester), Stephen Farrall (University of Sheffield) and Zelia Gallo (King’s College London), the event will focus on the interconnections between politics, the economy, crime and criminal justice through time.

Lunch is included and prior registration is essential. Click here for more information. 

Black and white drawing of a man's head in profile, text identifies Robert Peel as the subject. The skull area is divided into ten sections depicting satirized personal qualities. Full text interpreting the image available at

Phrenological head of Robert Peel... by John Doyle via Wellcome Collection. CC-BY-4.0.


Saturday, 1 December 2018

Prison Service Journal special edition planned

Call for expressions of interest

Professor Alyson Brown, member of the editorial board for The Prison Service Journal, has described their interest in publishing a special historical edition. She asks for anyone whose research is prison-related and interested in contributing to the special edition to contact her. Her institutional profile and contact details can be found here.

The Prison Service Journal is peer-reviewed and published by HM Prison Service of England and Wales. It is hosted by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies who describe the journal’s purpose as ‘to promote discussion on issues related to the work of the Prison Service, the wider criminal justice system and associated fields’. It publishes short articles of up to 4000 words and is Open Access. More about the journal can be found here.

If you’d like to take a look at a previous edition that has included historical material, Alyson suggests this link (PDF).

A black and white line drawing showing a Victorian prison building with men labouring outside in a vegetable garden. The garden is bounded by a high wall against which is an area sectioned off by an iron fence. There are buildings - a factory chimney and church tower - in the distance beyond the wall.
Burial ground at Millbank Prison from Mayhew and Binny (1862) Prisons of London and Scenes of Prison Life via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, 30 November 2018

Special issue call for submissions

Access to Justice: Historical Approaches to Victims of Crime

A special issue of the peer-reviewed academic journal Societies (ISSN 2075-4698) has been announced. The title is ‘Access to Justice: Historical Approaches to Victims of Crime’.

Edited by Pam Cox and Barry Godfrey, it aims to address issues of victims’ access to justice, cultural representations of victims, and the role of victims in the politics and practice of criminal justice – all in historical perspective.

Major research questions include:

  • How has victims’ access to justice been facilitated or restricted over the past two centuries?
  • How, and to what end, have cultural representations shaped perceptions of victims?
  • How, why and when did victims come to shape political and criminal justice discourse and practice?

Additionally, related topics may include: Child sexual abuse victims; domestic violence victims; access to justice for victims; history of victim support; symbolic and ideal victims of crime; victims and fear of crime; victims and media representations; and victims in literature.

Submissions are due to the journal by 28 February 2019 and full details are available here.

Black and white drawing of a woman in an early twentieth century suit and hat wearing dark makeup cowering in a chair, there is a gloved hand on her shoulder.
Extract from film poster for 'The Victim' (1916) published in Variety, via Wikimedia Commons.


Thursday, 29 November 2018

Clive Emsley Prize Winner 2018

Angela Sutton-Vane wins at BCHS2018

The British Crime Historians Symposium is a biennial conference that has become one of the most significant events for Historical Criminologists in the UK with its focus on all aspects of the history of crime, law, justice, punishment and social regulation. In 2018 it was held at Edge Hill University and nominations were invited for the Clive Emsley Prize for the best postgraduate paper presented there.

In November 2018, organisers Alyson Brown and Alana Barton were pleased to announce that the prize had been awarded to Angela Sutton-Vane of the Open University for her paper titled ‘The private life of CID paperwork: the transition of murder files from institutional to public records’. See below for the paper abstract. More about Angela’s research can be found on her website at

Were you at BCHS2018? Feel free to carry on the conversation about Angela's paper using the comments below.

Abstract: ‘There are a handful of cultural and historical studies of the British detective such as Haia Shpayer-Makov and Clive Emsley’s 2006 edited book and Dick Hobbs’ 1998 anthropological study.  Although some research has included the attitude of police to paperwork, work around the personal relationships between detectives, their bureaucracies and the paperwork they produce are lacking.  Often viewed with suspicion both from within their own institution and the public, and periodically entangled in moral crises, C.I.D. have pushing at their door an insatiable demand for access to their world.  The availability of records for research forms the crux of the historian’s ability to understand the detective and yet the growing legalisation of the police record has resulted in decreasing quantities appearing in the public domain.   As such my research sits at the historical coal-face and referring to material culture, specifically object biographies, the murder file has been identified as an exemplar in that it forms the apex of police work.  Its life, liminality and protean nature will be traced as it moves through changing fields of cultural and legal meanings involving control of information, institutional and personal pride, resistance to regulation, memory, memorialisation of the victims and notoriety.  These complex biographies have meant that murder files often moved into unregulated territory and, during a brief period of time, were appearing in local archives creating whole new sets of ethical dilemmas around access and interpretation. Ultimately, by better understanding the transition of the murder file from institutional to public record, research aims to re-open the debate around the wider issue of the preservation of criminal justice history.’

A black and white group portrait of 20 Victorian police constables in uniform, standing in a line in the middle of a grassy area, with a hedgerow and church tower in the background.
Bury St Edmunds Police ca. 1900 via Wikimedia Commons attributed to Bury Past and Present Society, Spanton-Jarman Collection


Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Race, Gender and Bourgeois Respectability

The execution of Percy Clifford, 1914

Historical Criminology Network Members Lizzie Seal and Alexa Neale were recently published in Volume 60 of the peer-reviewed academic journal The Irish Jurist.

Their article ‘Race, gender and bourgeois respectability: the execution of Percy Clifford, 1914’ is the first output to be published from the Leverhulme Trust funded project ‘Race, Racialisation and the Death Penalty in England and Wales, 1900-1965’. 

You can access the article via and Westlaw UK. Find out more about the project on the website here, including a post about Percy Clifford. Feel free to share your thoughts on the article or the case by commenting below.

Abstract: ‘This article is a microhistory of the capital case of Percy Clifford, a man of colour who was hanged for the murder of his wife Maud in England in 1914. It examines both what this case reveals about his life as a man of colour in Edwardian England and the racialised ways in which he was portrayed in the criminal justice system. It argues that understandings of bourgeois respectability, which were interwoven with notions of race, gender, class and sexuality, were significant to how the case was portrayed and interpreted.'

A grey photographic image of a lamp-post at the side of a path between areas of grass leading away from the frame. There are some faint outlines of trees in the foggy middle-distance.
Fog - © Free-Photos CC0 Creative Commons via


Tuesday, 27 November 2018

What is Historical Criminology?

Thinking Historically about Crime and Justice... "its about time"

Chair of the BSC Historical Criminology Network, David Churchill, recently asked 'What is Historical Criminology?' in the 2018 Summer issue of the BSC Newsletter.  

"The time seems right," he said, "to put ‘historical criminology’ on a surer footing – to outline what it might mean, and to explicate what it might do for our understanding of crime and justice." He resists straightforwardly "eliding ‘the historical’ with ‘study of the past’" and instead asks us to "consider historical criminology as a mode of enquiry – an approach rather than a specialism, a disposition rather than a sub-discipline."

What do you think? Should Historical Criminology be defined by the methods employed? By the empirical approach adopted? Or by the theoretical framework applied? Comments are welcome but moderated to prevent spam. Click here for the full article (PDF).

An analogue clock with black numbers 1-12 reading anti-clockwise direction repeating in infinite decreasing spiral on a white clockface.
'Back in Time for February' by NikkValentine via CC BY 2.0