#HCNet The Plenaries by Dan Johnson
The HCNet Conference 2019 brought together criminologists and crime historians to present research on a wide range of interesting topics. Although the various panels were engaging and thought provoking, the two plenary speakers, Barry Godfrey and Kate Lister, bookended the conference beautifully, creating a tone and line of thought that ran throughout each session. Barry Godfrey opened the conference with his paper, ‘J’Accuse Crime History? What is the point of us?’ The major idea that I took away was that the big challenge of historical criminology as a community is not about the collection of knowledge, but how to make an impact. How are we as a group of academics going to use our knowledge and research to better our local communities and national policy? This so something that we all need to think about in relation to our work in this field. Godfrey’s plenary opened into a lively discussion and debate that spilled into the rest of the conference. As the conference was drawing to a close, Kate Lister’s paper, ‘Making the past present: the future of historical activism in criminology‘, was a highlight not to be missed. Lister gave a powerful paper about her activism in the sex work industry and how we as historical criminologists could use our research to make an ethical impact in local communities. As with Godfrey’s plenary, Lister’s sparked healthy discussion and debate, illustrating the real-world impact that our field can have. The two plenaries together influenced discussion throughout the conference and beyond.
Dan Johnson is a Ph.D. Researcher in the Department of History at the University of York and the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past (IPUP). His research focuses on narratives of poverty and punishment in British prison museums. He is the co-recipient of the 2019 Herman Diederiks Prize granted by the International Association for the History of Crime and Criminal Justice.
Photographer and date unknown. 'Women dressed in prison uniforms...' Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library via Flickr CC-BY-2.0