Summer research update from the School of Law and Criminology

We may have been locked down for the Spring and Summer but that has not hindered the research activities of our resident lawyers and criminologists. There have been a number of exciting publications launched over recent months and here is a round-up of some of the highlights, with links to each publication included.

A new chapter has been published by Dr Camille Stengel titled ‘Creating safe spaces in dangerous places: ‘Chicks Day’ for women who inject drugs in Budapest, Hungary‘. Published by Routledge, this chapter forms part of an interdisciplinary collection examining the role played by alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in framing certain groups as ‘dangerous’.

Dr Alexandra Fanghanel has authored a new article called ‘On Being Ugly in Public: The Politics of the Grotesque in Naked Protests . Published in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, this article continues Alex’s innovative work around sexualised naked protest in public spaces.

Prof Olga Martin-Ortega and the Business, Human Rights and the Environment research group continue their march towards revolutionising the electronics industry in collaboration with the GoodElectronics Network and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations. Their recently published report proposes a new approach to the urgent need for disclosure and transparency in the global electronics industry, and you can read more about it here.

Dr Melissa Pepper has recently co-authored the article ‘Exploring the Role and Contribution of Police Support Volunteers in an English Constabulary‘. Published in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, Melissa’s paper can be accessed here.

Perhaps one of the most topical publications in our update comes from Dr Maria Kaspersson who has recently contributed a chapter called ‘‘You Always Hurt the One You Love’: Homicide in a Domestic Context to the edited collection ‘Why We Kill: Understanding Violence Across Cultures and Disciplines’.

Finally, if audio content is what you’re here for then Dr Louise Hewitt has got you covered. Louise has recently launched her brand new Innocence Project London podcast where you can find an honest account of the organisation, how important their work is to a clinical legal education, and why it matters. You can find it here, and make sure you subscribe to catch every episode.

The Office of Undergraduate Research defies lockdown and launches its second publication

The Office of Undergraduate Research proudly presents its 2020 publication, in collaboration with Combined Sociology Students. The book, ‘When the Personal Gets Political: Linking Student’ Sociological Autobiographies to Broader Social and Political Contexts’  is the second edition of a series of collated Autobiographies  written by students and is available on request. Dr Louise Owusu-Kwarteng led the project.

Second edition

Simply put, we are in tricky times. Socially, political and economically, it has been like this for a while, 2020 has, however taken us to a whole new level. We’ve had COVID-19, the world wide global pandemic, which has had some serious ramifications for everyone. This has led to collective worries about our health, and that of others who are close to us. The lockdown meant we have not been able to see our families, in some cases for months. It has had a knock on effect for our students’ education, due to the switch to online teaching, which meant losing face to face contact with their tutors and peers.

For those who graduate this year, for many the lockdown means no physical graduation. There are concerns about opportunities for graduate employability, due to the downturn of the economy – also a result of the pandemic. Mental health is also a growing concern, especially since particularly since COVID. As noted in a Lancet case study, the mental health of the nation has deteriorated since the pandemic, largely because of the impacts of lockdown, fears of contracting the disease and loss of loved ones (www.lancet.com July 2020). Racism, though always prevalent in society, has reared its head in a virulent and violent way with the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and many others due to police violence. Islamophobic hate crimes also continue, and like racism it operates at a micro and macro level, and on a day to day basis…

Criminology student writes policy paper based on experience in working within the prison system

University of Greenwich student, Madeleine Hatton, an undergraduate Criminology and Criminology Psychology programme, expressed how she felt about the experience of working withing the prison system: “I feel that gaining a variety of experiences in the criminal justice system is invaluable. Earlier this year I gained a unique experience through my involvement with the Inside-Out programme, where I completed a criminology module inside of a prison”.

Madeleine worked closely with the prison policy team and completed a variety of activities, including conducting a literature review into the coping mechanisms for self-harm and suicide in prisons during a lockdown, writing a policy paper on the same topic, and then presenting the main findings of this paper to the prison policy team.  

Madeleine Hatton

“This module was extremely eye-opening and has encouraged me to widen my future career path to potentially working within the prison system. Over the lockdown period, I was fortunate enough to gain two weeks work experience with the Ministry of Justice”.

Although the lockdown in response to COVID-19 in prison has been one of the largest, it is not the first prison lockdown to occur. There have previously been prison lockdowns due to viral outbreaks and prison riots, amongst other reasons, so there is a lot to learn about prison lockdown responses, easing restrictions, and the impact this has on self-harm and suicide of incarcerated people and the staff who work in and around prisons. This policy paper explores the different aspects of self-harm and suicide in relation to the prison lockdown, additional coping strategies after lockdown restrictions are eased, and recommendations for the policy professionals.

The literature review highlighted multiple areas of research surrounding self-harm and suicide in prisons that require further research, listed in the research paper. The student found “the opportunity was challenging as the work revolved around investigating suicide and self-harm, as well as mental health and the impacts of COVID-19 on inmates, their friends and family, and the staff members”.

Madeleine concluded that “this experience was a preview of the work the Ministry of Justice do each day, and the pace and pressure of working here. Though, this has definitely fulfilled my aspirations for working for the Civil Service in the future. All of my work placement activities were completed remotely due to COVID-19, but this did not hamper my enjoyment of what proved to be an insightful experience. This opportunity has furthered my confidence in why the degree I do is so important, as we are the future generation of people that will hopefully be in the position to be able to make positive changes in the criminal justice system”.


Congratulations to Madeleine and the School of Law & Criminology for stealing the spotlight!

Victorian Popular Fiction Conference Returns to Greenwich

Over three days 15-17 July, the annual conference of the Victorian Popular Fiction Association (VPFA) was held by the University of Greenwich. It was the second year in a row that we held the conference  – the Association’s President is Professor Andrew King (HSS) – but the first it was held virtually. 103 delegates from 5 continents came together on Teams to discuss topics such as Medical Encounters, Science and the Supernatural, Vampires, Travel, and Disaster.

Professor Alexis Easley from the University of St Thomas, Minnesota, gave a stunningly researched paper which (literally) mapped and quantified the contributions of hundreds of women writers to the famous Chambers’s Journal, the first periodical to aim at a truly mass market in a modern sense. She showed how women were absolutely central to the founding of mass-market reading, and that, contrary to expectation, they suffered from less than a 3% pay discrimination. Such repositioning of women as core producers in the cultural industries and our narrative imaginary is fundamental to the VPFA’s mission, and almost all of the papers confirmed this.

A handful of the best papers will be selected for publication in Victorian Popular Fictions, the organ of the VPFA, edited by Andrew King and by Prof Mariaconcetta Costantini (University of Chieti-Pescara).

Conference participants

Conference delegates were unanimous that the conference was a great success: they were especially grateful that we found a way to go ahead when so many others have been cancelled or indefinitely postponed. Given the huge cuts in research budgets across the globe as well as the greener credentials of online conferences, what we have pioneered here may well be the way forward. In whatever form, planning for the 2021 conference at Greenwich is already underway. The successful conference was coordinated by Karen Ward from FLAS Research and Enterprise Support Office.

Congratulations to Professor Andrew King for stealing the online spotlight!

Dr Louise Owusu-Kwarteng and Dr Louise Hewitt join the humanitarian Together Book Project

Together: An anthology from the COVID-19 pandemic is the fundraiser book compiled by authors Dev Aditya and Dr Pauldy Otermans, two former Brunel students. The publication collects the global human experiences, emotions and stories from the time of the pandemic. The 100 contributors, from 5 continents, 50% BAME authors, express themselves through poems, prose, letters and art.

The project was created to support and fund movements, frontline services and initiatives, while fighting the COVID-19 virus. The main beneficiary in the UK is the National Health Service (NHS) with 90% allocation of funds raised and 10% is donated monthly to selected non-UK organisations in need of resources to perform their duties. Visit the website for more information and here to donate.

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon

Congratulations to both Scholars for making the University of Greenwich Community proud!

Landscape Architecture and Urbanism PhD Student creates amazing flip book

Professor Ed Wall proudly tweeted about the amazing work of one of his PhD students, who composed the flip book of The Landscapists AD. The book is available to buy online from Wiley or be accessed via Wiley Online Library. This is a great example of teacher / student collaboration at the University of Greenwich.

Congratulations to Professor Ed Wall for stealing the spotlight through mentorship!

New publication shows how ‘Studying in this England is wahala (trouble)’, by Dr Louise Owusu-Kwarteng

The article by Dr Louise Owusu-Kwarteng, recently featured in Studies in Higher Education Journal, analyses the challenges and benefits of being a West African – international student in the English Academic scenario.

The study, based on the experience of 12 West African (Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone) students illustrates why ‘studying in this England is trouble’. If on one hand there is an underlying promise of a more successful career future with academic achievement accredited abroad, on the other, the contrasts in education systems, adjustment to a different culture, environment, cost of living, lifestyle and contrasting study pace can be a hard hit for some students. Nothing prepares them to this reality, it must be lived and experienced. Pessimism aside, this narrative is a clear contrast with that portrayed in the comedy film Coming to America but equally enlightening.

Dr Louise Owusu-Kwarteng cleverly achieves a Publication that draw us to reflect on the polarity of two very distinct education system – the Western world and Africa, while subtly creating awareness for this reality.

Enjoy the reading!

Researchers call for transparency on social media content moderation to combat Covid-19

There is little doubt over the great potential of melding artificial intelligence with digital epidemiology to combat Covid19 effectively: the study of large amounts of online published data ranging from social media posts to trending hashtags can aid health officials in their task to track outbreaks quickly and target responses. At the same time, large technology companies hold a wealth of unpublished information (private posts, search keywords, location and interaction data with contacts) that could help epidemiologists further. To this end, LETS Lab at the School of Law and Criminology has joined forces with a network of organisations and researchers in an open letter urging social media and content sharing platforms to archive material for research.

According to LETS Director, Dr Argyro Karanasiou, the lockdown policies imposed globally have boosted an unprecedented flow of information via online platforms used for social purposes. At the same time the ever familiar danger of spreading misinformation online is now met with solely automated means of moderating content online, which needs to be transparent and audible as it may well compromise free speech and privacy. The letter urges tech giants to archive such data so that they can be studied further “to evaluate the macro and micro level consequences of relying on automation to moderate content in a complex and evolving information environment. (…) It is essential that platforms preserve this data so that it can be made available to researchers and journalists and included in your transparency reports. The data will be invaluable to those working in public health, human rights, science and academia. It will be crucial to develop safeguards to address the privacy issues raised by new or longer data retention and by the sharing of information with third parties, but the need for immediate preservation is urgent.” 

The open letter has been published by Article19 and can be viewed here.

Congratulations to Dr Argyro Karanasiou for being an active voice and stealing the spotlight!