Over the past decade, criminology in Australia, Canada and other settler colonies has increasingly engaged with activist challenges to the penal system. These anti-carceral engagements have been levelled at its laws, institutions and agents. Following a long history of criminology explicating and buttressing penal institutions, the criminological gaze slowly transitioned in the 1970s to a more critical lens, shifting focus from the people who are criminalised to the harms of the apparatus that criminalises. However, the focus remained steadfastly on institutions and dominant players – until much more recently. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the strength of activist organisations and grassroots movements in affecting change and shaping debates in relation to the penal system. This chapter will explore the role of activism in informing criminological scholarship during the pandemic period and how criminologists, in turn, have increasingly recognised the need to build alliances and collaborations with grassroots activists and engage in their own activism. The chapter focuses primarily on Australian and Canadian criminology and its growing imbrication with the prison abolition movement, especially in the shadow of ongoing colonial violence. It considers how activist scholars, including ourselves, attempt to build movements for structural change in the criminal system and beyond.
Through activism and solidarity with people in prison, survivors of incarceration and First Nations people subjected to a broad colonial–carceral archipelago, we are honoured to walk beside so many who have struggled in the name of justice and for the community. You have taught us so much and uplifted our spirits in the resistance. Thanks also to Lorana Bartels and Anthony Hopkins for their thoughtful feedback.
Anthony, T. and Chartrand, V. (2023), "Rise Up: Activist Criminology, Colonial Injustice and Abolition", 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. 249-264. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-80262-199-020231017
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