Some reflections on the BSC Conference 2021

Nick Gibbs reflects on his experience of this year’s conference…

As I write this, we’ve just waved goodbye to another wonderful conference hosted by the BSC, in conjunction with the Open University. For me, it’s been an event that has simultaneously felt entirely unprecedented and yet strangely comforting, given that it’s been the first time since 2019 that we’ve all got together as a discipline. In this post, I’d like to share my thoughts and experiences of this year’s virtual event and some of the highlights that I particularly enjoyed.

Firstly, I’d like to thank Professor Sandra Walklate for her fantastic welcoming address to the post-grad conference and, heroically, stepping in for Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe when we encountered our first technical issues of the event. Her wise words brought us into the first panel sessions where I enjoyed presenting my paper on criminological connective ethnography and chairing for the wonderful Robyn Heitzman from the University of Oxford. Although I wasn’t able to attend any other sessions for obvious reasons, I am reliably informed that all the post-grad speakers were fantastic and those who spoke should be extremely proud! The post-grad roundtable then saw an enlightening discussion of the stages of doing a PhD, covering, to name a few, the topics of supervisors, publishing, and researcher wellbeing. We then ended our post-graduate mini conference with a plenary by Dr Jonathan Ilan, who spoke engagingly about decoding drill music and harm-producing policing practices.

Following the triumphs of our post-grad sessions, we then eagerly awaited the first plenary of the main conference, where Professor Tanya Wyatt, Professor Lois Presser and Professor Nigel South hosted a fantastic discussion of the ‘Harm and Crime Interface’. For me, the focus on social harms, Green Criminology and zemiology has been so refreshing this year and this session really set the tone for a conference of cutting-edge theoretical and empirical research dissemination. For the sake of brevity I’ll spare the reader a full account of every session I attended and instead here’s a few of the parallel sessions that I really enjoyed on day one; ‘Policing domestic homicides during the Covid-19 pandemic’ by Dr Lis Bates, Melanie-Jane Stoneman and Katherine Hoeger; ‘Grey Market Enhancement Drugs and Licit Market Spaces – A Concern for Public Health’ by Dr Luke Turnock; and ‘Accidental death’ by Dr Katy Snell. My day was wrapped up by watching the ever-charismatic Professor James Treadwell present the Routledge sponsored Book Prize to Dr David Maguire for his important work ‘Male, Failed, Jailed’ (do go and get a copy!). On a side note, I would have attended the evening entertainment but, as we all know, it was ‘coming home’ at 8pm that night!

Day two was kicked off by a publishing session entitled ‘Criminology and Criminal Justice: An International Journal – Meet the Editors’, hosted by Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe. This was a great opportunity to learn more about the CCJ and broaden my knowledge of publishing. Straight back into the panels and I attended my favourite session of the entire conference – ‘Social Harm’ by Professor Pam Davies, Dr Lorenzo Natali, and the fantastic Dr Anita Lavorgna. We had an extremely productive conversation about the intersection of the online and offline and the utility of ‘cybercrime’ as a concept. I then attended Dr Noel McGuirk presentation on ‘Policing the pandemic’ before heading over to hear Dr Helen Jones promote the BSC Blog and Dr Jake Phillips discuss Probation Quarterly – both are excellent outlets for any post-grad students looking to get your name out there! After lunch it was time for the highly-anticipated post-graduate networking event with the wonderful Dr Rafe McGregor (featuring an unexpected appearance by Professor Jo Phoenix!). I loved hearing Rafe speak and we had an extremely productive and supportive Q&A about all things PGR, including the trials and tribulations of the REF! To wrap up day two the highly-esteemed Professor Prabha Unnithan and Professor Katheryn Russell-Brown shared their work on the Black Lives Matter movement before Grace and I had the pleasure of listening to Dr Nigel Brearley talk passionately about the work of Robert Fabian.

The final day of this wonderful celebration of all things criminology started with our ultimate plenary session, where Dr Leon Moosavi and Professor Kerry Carrington shared their incredibly important work on decolonising the discipline. This was followed by the last parallel session of the conference, where I watched Dr Rafe McGrogor speak, alongside Hoaran Xu and Professor Anqi Shen. We then came together one last time to hear the winner of the poster competition (well done Alison Hutchinson!) and say thank you to Tony Murphy and Professor Louise Westmarland for their incredible efforts. Although I think I echo everyone in feeling a great deal of ‘MS Teams fatigue’ now, the OU did a magnificent job and I personally loved every minute of the event. Well done to everyone who made it so special and I look forward to seeing you all next year at the University of Surrey!

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