Borders, control and the office of the criminologist

Dr Claire Loughnan1

1University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

The focus of criminology as a discipline has historically developed in tandem with the state, and often in its service. When the discipline has turned to examine forms of harm that are the product of the state, such as genocide (Balint), settler colonialism (Giannacopoulos), institutional violence (Spivakovsky) and punitive responses to refugees (Grewcock, Weber) the response has sometimes been to ask: is this ‘real’ criminological work? In this paper, I use as a starting point, the growing body of work produced by border criminologists and others (Aas, Bosworth, Canning, Tombs) to insist upon the need for criminology to question its own intellectual boundaries. This is a call for active reflection on our responsibilities as ‘criminologists’, not only to the discipline, but most importantly, to the societies and populations on whose behalf we claim to speak.


Claire Loughnan is Lecturer in Criminology, University of Melbourne. Claire’s doctoral research conducted an institutional reading of immigration detention and offshore processing in Australia. She is extending this to research on the experiences of those living and working in diverse sites of confinement, whether of care or control. Claire’s work is informed by an ethical account of responsibility.  She is a research partner with the Comparative Network on Refugee Externalisation Policies, co-convenor of Academics for Refugees (University of Melbourne),  and a member of Australia’s OPCAT (Convention against Torture) Network which advocates for monitoring of conditions in immigration detention. Twitter: @claire_loughnan


Dec 10 2021