Distant Voices: Encountering punishment and reintegration through creative practices

Ms Alison Urie1, Professor Fergus McNeill2
1Vox Liminis, Glasgow, United Kingdom, 2University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Distant Voices is a UK Economic and Social Research Council/Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project which aims to explore and practice re/integration after punishment through creative collaborations. Turning conventional understandings of ‘offender rehabilitation’ on their head, the project is concerned not with ‘correcting offenders’ but rather with exploring and changing how they are received when ‘coming home’ after punishment.

This 3-year interdisciplinary project draws on criminology, community development, musicology and politics, blurring boundaries between creative practices, research, knowledge exchange and public engagement. We use a collaborative action research model to support a range of people with different experiences of the criminal justice system to explore questions of justice and reintegration together, primarily through collaborative song-writing and sharing.

In this paper, we will discuss the design and thinking behind the project and the learning from its first 18 months (and from the preceding pilot stages). The paper will illustrate aspects of our method, weaving spoken presentation together with sharing a song from the project.


Alison Urie has led the development of creative arts organisation Vox Liminis.

Vox Liminis is creating spaces where differently situated people affected by the criminal justice system communicate, connect and grow in new ways, experimenting with the role of the arts in how justice might be reimagined.

Prior to this Alison led the first 10 years of youth community organsation Hot Chocolate Trust, building creative community development work in a city centre context. Alongside this work she has pursued interdisciplinary studies in Youth Work and Community Learning & Development, Theology and Urban Studies.

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