Editor’s Introduction to the Special Issue: “Crucial Critical Criminologies—Revisited and Extended”
I begin this Introduction—my first as Editor-in-Chief of Critical Criminology: An International Journal—with an observation, a confession and an expression of hope.
First, the observation: this era is riddled with rabid corporate greed, interpersonal violence, corporate crime, numerous assaults on indigenous sovereignty and the environment, international racist and xenophobic state policies thinly disguised as “national security measures,” and widespread sexism and homophobia.
Second, the confession: I cannot claim authorship of the words in the previous sentence. Rather, I lifted them verbatim from the first paragraph of Walter S. DeKeseredy and Martin D. Schwartz’s 2013 article, “Confronting Progressive Retreatism and Minimalism: The Role of a New Left Realist Approach.” Unfortunately, DeKeseredy and Schwartz’s assessment is as apropos in 2019 as in 2013. Fortunately, in the years since their less-than-sanguine description, a growing number of critical criminological scholars have attempted—often in the pages of this journal—to challenge and contest the structures and systems of oppression that have perpetuated such inequalities.
Borrowing from Raymond J. Michalowski’s article in the first issue of this journal under this name,1 I conceptualize critical criminology as entailing or as being characterized by “an insistence that criminological inquiry move beyond the boundaries imposed by legalistic definitions of crime” and by its “critique of domination”—its “unapologetic . . . commitment to confronting racism, sexism, working class oppression and US neo-colonialism” (1996: 11, 12; see also Brisman 2011: 56). And so my hope is that the forthcoming volumes and issues under my editorial command continue in this counter-hegemonic spirit.
Six years ago, my predecessor, David Kauzlarich, kicked off his tenure as Editor-in-Chief with a special issue entitled “Crucial Critical Criminology” (Volume 21, Issue 3)—one that contained eight articles by seminal critical criminologists on eight different perspectives within critical criminology: “Cultural Criminology and the Politics of Meaning” by Jeff Ferrell (2013); “Confronting Progressive Retreatism and Minimalism: The Role of a New Left Realist Approach” by Walter S. DeKeseredy and Martin D. Schwartz (2013), noted above; “Transformative Feminist Criminology: A Critical Re-thinking of a Discipline” by Meda Chesney-Lind and Merry Morash (2013); “Intersectional Criminology: Interrogating Identity and Power in Criminological Research and Theory” by Hillary Potter (2013); “Peacemaking Criminology” by Hal Pepinsky (2013); “Postmodernism and Thinking Quantum Holographically” by Dragan Milovanovic (2013); “Green Criminology and Crimes of the Economy: Theory, Research and Praxis” by Vincenzo Ruggiero and Nigel South (2013); and “The New School of Convict Criminology Thrives and Matures” by Stephen C. Richards (2013). Given that I am taking the torch from Professor Kauzlarich, it seems only apposite that I take inspiration from him and begin my term with a similar special issue, entitled “Crucial Critical Criminologies—Revisited and Extended.” Accordingly, I have asked leading critical criminologists to engage with seven of the articles in Volume 21, Issue 3, revisiting them and extending the approaches and ideas expressed therein. Reflecting the topical order of “Crucial Critical Criminology,” the first seven articles in this special issue are as follows: “Cultural Criminology: The Time is Now” by Jonathan Ilan (2019); “Shock and Awe: On Progressive Minimalism and Retreatism, and the New Ultra-Realism” by Simon Winlow and Steve Hall (2019); “Transing Critical Criminology: A Critical Unsettling and Transformative Anti-Carceral Feminist Reframing” by Jennifer Musto (2019); “Intersectional Criminologies for the Contemporary Moment: Crucial Questions of Power, Praxis and Technologies of Control” by Kathryn Henne and Emily I. Troshynski (2019); “From Peacemaking to Peacebuilding Criminology” by Randall Amster (2019); “Economy Versus Environment: How Corporate Actors Harm Both” by Pamela Davies, Mònica Pons Hernandez and Tanya Wyatt (2019); and “Convict Criminology: Learning from the Past, Confronting the Present, Expanding for the Future” by Grant Tietjen (2019).
In addition—and in recognition of the development and growth of other emerging and burgeoning critical orientations—this special issue includes: “Deviant Leisure: A Critical Criminological Perspective for the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Raymen and Oliver Smith (2019); “Narrative Criminology as Critical Criminology” by Lois Presser and Sveinung Sandberg (2019); “Unsettling Queer Criminology: Notes Towards Decolonization” by Matthew Ball (2019); “Criminologies of the Global South: Critical Reflections” by Kerry Carrington, Bill Dixon, David Fonseca, David Rodríguez Goyes, Jianhong Liu and Diego Zysman (2019); and “The Critical Foundations of Visual Criminology: The State, Crisis, and the Sensory” by Michelle Brown and Eamonn Carrabine (2019).
I began this Introduction with a quotation from one of the articles in “Crucial Critical Criminology.” It is fitting, then, that I conclude by borrowing from another article from that special issue. In “Transformative Feminist Criminology: A Critical Re-thinking of a Discipline,” Meda Chesney-Lind and Merry Morash contend that often, some of contemporary criminologists’ keenest insights “come when they transgress criminology, that is, [when] they focus on concepts apart from crime, victimization, and [the] justice system” (2013: 290). Chesney-Lind and Morash then remind us that “what builds knowledge is open conversation, real respect, and real listening” (2013: 299). My aspiration—indeed, my expectation—is that this journal will continue to produce critical scholarship that transgresses criminology, while at the same time, builds knowledge through respectful conversation that demonstrates “real listening.” I look forward to your submissions.
Critical Criminology: An International Journal is an extension of the defunct Journal of Human Justice (JHJ). The first volume of JHJ was published in 1989. The inaugural issue of Critical Criminology: An International Journal was published as Volume 7, Number 1, in Spring 1996.
- Brisman, A. (2011). Advancing critical criminology through anthropology. Western Criminology Review, 12(2), 55–77.Google Scholar