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An Activist Criminology Against Torture and Institutional Violence (and its Academic Denials)

Alejandro Forero-Cuéllar (University of Barcelona, Spain)
Iñaki Rivera-Beiras (University of Barcelona, Spain)

The Emerald International Handbook of Activist Criminology

ISBN: 978-1-80262-200-3, eISBN: 978-1-80262-199-0

Publication date: 9 August 2023


The struggle against torture and institutional violence has to be practiced in numerous scenarios: in the very places of deprivation of liberty, against workers, administrations and judges who try to hide it or justify it, but also, it’s a struggle against an academy that, too often, has decided to look the other way. In order to be activist, criminology must leave the classroom and enter the places of deprivation of liberty. It must engage with victims and survivors and it has to make political and social denunciations, organising itself and weaving networks with other social organisations that fight for the same goal. Unfortunately, it also has to fight against the very obstacles that the criminal justice system institutions pose; the denunciations and persecution of these same institutions and some police and prison workers groups and unions; the dirty war against terrorism and political dissent; and the criminalisation of some mass media and also of the academic world, where activism against this phenomenon is a minority and marginalised. These two sides of the same coin, involvement in anti-torture activist movements, as well as persecution and criminalisation when challenging state power, is what the authors of this chapter have experienced in Catalonia and Spain. While we fight against torture outside the classroom, we also carry out activism inside the classroom, teaching what other academics do not want to engage with, and pointing out the political elements of criminology and the action of the penal system. In this chapter, the authors highlight the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in custody and prison, and in the context of police activity in Spain. Then, the authors explain the structures of denial (political, judicial and academic) that allow its perpetuation and impunity. The text ends with a journey through the configuration of activist criminology in Spain that unites critical analysis from a legal sociology perspective with collective and activist intervention.



Forero-Cuéllar, A. and Rivera-Beiras, I. (2023), "An Activist Criminology Against Torture and Institutional Violence (and its Academic Denials)", Canning, V., Martin, G. and Tombs, S. (Ed.) The Emerald International Handbook of Activist Criminology (Emerald Studies in Activist Criminology), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 137-152.



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Copyright © 2023 Alejandro Forero-Cuéllar and Iñaki Rivera-Beiras