In August 2015 I attended the ‘European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control’ Annual Conference. This took place in the beautiful Estonian city of Tallinn and was hosted by the University of Tartu.
The European Group emerged in 1973 as a collective forum for members to engage with important social justice issues through the lens of Critical Criminology. It brings together activists and academics (along with activist-academics!) in an eclectic and energetic mix, which often makes for inspiring and thought-provoking conferences. This year was no different. Moving sessions by Andrew Jefferson entitled ‘Stuck in Hope’ explored notions of ‘stuckness’ and the lived reality of ‘confined lives’, showing something of the multiplicity of meanings encompassed by such terms. In another session, Jairo Matallana-Villarreal described some of the innovative ways he is using ‘crime mapping’ to carry out research into illegal military conscription in Columbia, evidencing the wide reach of the Group’s members and activism.
As part of my presentation in a session entitled ‘Resistance and Radical Alternatives’ I elaborated on some early ideas about the relationship between ‘testimonio’ and accounts of state violence in N.Ireland. This led to a really interesting discussion about the nature of ‘subjugated knowledge’ and the ways in which accounts of personal pain may (or may not) become part of contested public histories. Overall, the conference was a great success, with a number of inspiring papers and thought-provoking conversations. It was also a great opportunity to meet others working in similar fields and share ideas about the issues arising from social control and the construction of deviance in the 21st Century.