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Pointing in a New Direction

Social justice goes socially viral as conference attendees share their experiences on FacebookSocial justice goes socially viral as conference attendees share their experiences on Facebook.

More than 100 people from around the country and abroad traveled to Knoxville for the New Directions in Critical Criminology conference, co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology, the Center for the Study of Social Justice, and the Student Peace Alliance, May 6-7, 2016, at the Haslam College of Business, on the University of Tennessee.

Professionals and scholars in our field reject the notion that the biggest social concerns are violations of the lay. Instead we call attention to pervasive social patterns that are at the roots of harm. We understand the state and its laws and regulations of crime as potentially implicated in crime and other harm, in a myriad of material and cultural ways.

During the extraordinary New Directions in Critical Criminology conference, we shared ideas about groundbreaking work on crime, punishment, and other harms. We discussed issues of real change versus accommodation to systems of exploitation, stigmatization, and harm-doing.

Finally, we considered how historically, criminologists have been implicated in harm by guiding the regimes that classify, impose suffering, and then continue to legitimize the need to impose suffering. We also strategized about ways to move toward a more just and peaceful world.

We welcomed six superb featured presenters:

  • Tony Platt, University of California, Berkeley, “Revisioning Critical Criminology”
  • Claire Renzetti, University of Kentucky, “Is Feminist Critical Criminology an Oxymoron?”
  • Yasser Payne, University of Delaware, “The People’s Report: Reframing Opportunity and Activism in and with the Streets of Wilmington, Delaware”
  • James Kilgore, University of Illinois, “#Opposemassincarceration Is Trending: How Do We Stop the Train of Piecemeal Reform?”
  • Jeff Ferrell, Texas Christian University, “Radical Engagement and Post-Methodological Possibility.”
  • Brett Story from the CUNY Graduate Center showed an original film titled The Prison in Twelve Landscapes.

Organizers also convened the following panels:

  • Criminalization, Marginalization, and Control
  • Policing the Community?
  • Carceral Regimes
  • Feminist Criminology
  • Youth In/Justice
  • Police Data, Police Representations
  • Constructions of Violence and the Tools of Violence
  • Abolishing the Police: Theory and Practice
  • Narrative Criminology
  • Environmental Harm, Corporate and State Power
  • In the Shadow of the Prison
  • Public Criminology
  • Cultural Criminology
  • Restorative and Transformative Justice
  • State Harm, Structural and “Collateral”

The conference provoked lively discussion on our work as critical criminologists.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to the many people who came together to make this conference a tremendous success. Thank you also to our supporters, and especially Jon Shefner and the New Directions Planning Committee: Michelle Brown, Hoan Bui, Robert Durán, Holly Ningard, Lo Presser, Colleen Ryan, Jeremy Smith, Bethany Nelson, and Jessica West.

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