Chair: Coretta Phillips

Race and criminology: revisiting the field, refreshing the arguments

Building: G
Room: 22


Author: Cunneen Chris, Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney

Title: Reproducing Racialized Boundaries
Twenty-five years ago, Solomos noted that the criminal justice system had become ‘one of the key mechanisms by which ideas about racial difference… are reproduced’. This paper picks up the argument that criminalisation and penality are part of the relations of power which re/produce ‘race’. The paper starts from the point that the racialization in the criminal justice system is not only an issue of representation, but also of specific social practices by which political, economic and social relations are structured. The paper will discuss how the processes of criminalization and penality constitute a significant racializing practice - that is we understand ‘race’ through criminological discourse and criminal justice practices (for example, criminogenic individual and familial pathologies, cultural deficits, etc); and we understand crime and punishment through ‘knowledge’ of race (for example, the constant repetition of data on racial or ethnic crime). Racialization through criminalization and punishment has both material and symbolic consequences: constituting social groups as threats to social order, and further entrenching social and economic marginalisation through criminal justice intervention and imprisonment. The paper will consider some of the complex ways in which racialization works.
Keywords: Race, criminalisation, penality, racialisation
Author: Phillips Coretta, London School of Economics and Political Science

Alpa Parmar, Oxford University
Title: Shared Beginnings? the Role of Race
In this paper we discuss the findings from a study that analyzes the life stories of twenty-one minority ethnic group men in London. British scholarship on race and crime has arguably been stymied by a focus on the over-representation of young Black men in the criminal justice system, without unpacking in detail why the over-representation continues. For example, few recent empirical studies in the UK have looked at trying to understand how structure, culture and agency interact to produce conditions where minority ethnic group men offend or desist. In this paper we use Laub and Sampson’s (2003) book Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives to frame our approach to understanding offending through life stories. We consider the application of this framework minority ethnic groups who have experienced racism in society and the criminal justice system. We make connections between racial discrimination and offending by drawing on recent US literature which argues that a racialized world-view mediates and compounds offending.
Keywords: race, youth, ethnicity, narrative, adversity
Author: Earle Rod, The Open University

Title: Witness to the Whiteness: Powers of Exclusion in Criminology
Conventional wisdom within criminology presents race as a social construct, a discredited artefact around which only a variety of somewhat arcane controversies stubbornly linger. White visions of race have tended to ‘see’ it as a parallel structure, an historical and conceptual anomaly, rather than one that is dynamically inter-connected and thus mutually formative of contemporary political subjectivities, allegiances and structures. Race has been marginalised, so it is said, because it is both a redundant and a toxic concept. If only it were so simple. Race has been a central, organising conceptual framework for European and Anglophone social science and, far from leaving the scene quietly, it continues its work through the recent phase of its denial, shaping the outcomes of both the US presidential election and the UK’s departure from the EU. Within every European criminal justice system the presence of race is scandalously self-evident. This paper draws from Du Bois’s assertion that the ‘the problem of the colour line is the problem of whiteness’. I proceed to discuss the form this takes in criminological practice. Drawing from personal experience I try to identify the ways in which whiteness operates as a form of collectively maintained ignorance that confines the criminological contributions of black and minority ethnic scholars to the margins of criminology, denies the material effects of race in criminal justice and neglects the theoretical analysis of race.
Keywords: race, whiteness, criminology, exclusion
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