Virtual Race and Justice Seminar with Dr Esmorie Miller

Tuesday 5 December 2023, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm GMT, online (UK)


Dr Esmorie Miller (Lancaster University, Department of Criminology): What’s it all about, Jose? Inventing the black, racialized youth as intractably deviant outsiders, in interwar Britain

To date, race’s place in early twentieth century British and Canadian youth penal reform remains unexplored in criminological histories. Yet rich histories of class and gender contribute to our understanding, by linking past and present. Scholars continue to reiterate a need to historicize contemporary concerns about race, crime, and punishment, beyond the American context. Indeed, extant scholarship draw attention to Black youth’s increasing rates of incarceration, exposing the normalization of extreme punishment for this demographic. This presentation identifies interwar England as two prescient examples. Against the backdrop of the deviance invention logic well established in youth justice, the presentation offers an expanded explanatory scope in the Intractability, Malleability (I/M) thesis (Miller, 2022). This is an original, integrated social theoretical logic with the capacity to progress the customary analytical scope. The I/M thesis advances a socio-historical account, exploring Black youth’s positioning as constitutive of the continuity of racialized people’s historic exclusion from the benefits of modern rights, including lenience and care. The I/M logic takes its analytical currency from a combined critical race theory (CRT) and recognition theory. Youth’s disproportionately high punishment rates are examined as a greater issue of exclusion.

Bio: Esmorie is a Criminology Lecturer at Lancaster University Law School, United Kingdom. She explores the normalization of the disproportionate punishment of Black, racialized youth, in Canada and England, while making wider reference to the racialization of penalty as a global phenomenon. Her research historicizes the role of race and racialization in contemporary youth justice. The research explores beyond crime and punishment, investigating the racialization of punitiveness as continuities of the historic exclusion of racialized peoples from the benefits of modern, universal rights, including but not limited to lenience. Retributive justice has, thus far, decoupled racialized youth’s contemporary concerns from relevant histories. Her recent book is Race, Recognition and Retribution in Contemporary Youth Justice: The Intractability Malleability Thesis (Routledge).

This series is part of the Race Matters Network (British Society of Criminology) and organised by Dr Monish Bhatia (Department of Sociology, University of York). All events are hosted online, free to attend and open to the public.


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