Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Confronting the ‘violence of the archive’: crime, punishment and the modern state

Wednesday, 22 May 2019, 9:00 to 18:00

Call for Papers - The Violence of the Archive

Who this event is for

  • Everyone


Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane site


The archive remains an enduring symbol of state authority, and a critical resource in the production of official knowledge and historical narrations of crime and punishment.

This 1-day workshop will confront the inherent ‘violence of the archive’ as a key site of collective ‘remembering’ and ‘forgetting’. It will consider the various ways in which the modern state has produced, and subsequently projected knowledge with regards to crime and punishment.

Drawing upon insights from the growing field of historical criminology this workshop will explore this dynamic and encourage new perspectives on the relationship between state and (non-)citizen within criminal justice settings; the lived experiences of individuals subject to state authority; the inner workings of closed penal institutions; and aspects of the penal policy-making cycle which remain hidden from public view.

Participants will consider the inherent challenges of using state-sanctioned primary sources that risk obscuring, silencing and reconfiguring lived experience and counter- memories. Accordingly, the temporal scope of this workshop is book-ended by the ‘birth’ of the modern state and the ambiguities of contemporary statehood.

The workshop aims to:

  • explore the connections between the archive and state narrations of crime and punishment.
  • draw attention to the unfolding relationship between state and (non-)citizen within criminal justice settings
  • encourage greater dialogue between criminology and history, as well as criminologists and crime and criminal justice historians.

Call for papers

  • Conceptualising the relationship between the archive and state narrations of crime and punishment.
  • New perspectives on the relationship between state and citizens (and non- citizens) in criminal justice settings.
  • The recovery of voices, people and communities that are lost to the state archive (central, regional and local).
  • The cultural signs (e.g. images, objects, sound) that can be recovered from state archives.
  • The role of historical narratives in the development of a liberal democratic disposition towards crime.
  • The challenges of gaining access to knowledge on crime and criminal justice in historical perspective.
  • Record keeping practices and the new realities of digitisation, big data, and information abundance.

Contacts: Please submit expressions of interest to: k.west@brookes.ac.uk and tguiney@brookes.ac.uk

Your expression of interest should include:

  • A brief biography (detailing institution, publications, research interests, etc.).
  • A working title.
  • A proposal/abstract (of roughly 250 words).

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 29 March 2019. Alternatively, if you are interested in attending as a delegate please email to reserve a place.

The final workshop plan will be finalised in due course. There is no conference fee for attendance at this event. Lunch and other refreshments will be provided.

Delegates are expected to meet their own travel costs. However, support for travel expenses will be considered for delegates who are confirmed as delivering papers but would not otherwise be in a position to attend.


  • Dr Kate West (Oxford Brookes University)
  • Dr Thomas Guiney (Oxford Brookes University).

More information and how to book

Email: tguiney@brookes.ac.uk