‘Why We Kill’ by Prof Nancy Loucks

Prof Nancy Loucks OBE, a Visiting Professor at the Law School’s Centre for Law, Crime & Justice, has just published the second edition of her book, Why We Kill. Used as a core text in the  popular Homicide module of the Strathclyde’s Masters programme in Criminal Justice & Penal Change Masters , Prof Loucks' book questions cultural and multi-disciplinary perspectives of how we define homicide, challenging us not to take these definitions for granted.

professor nancy louck smiling at the camera

Commenting on the new book, Prof Loucks said:

Capital punishment, serial killings, war, terrorism, abortion, honour killings, euthanasia, suicide bombings, war, and genocide: all involve the taking of life. Put most simply, all involve killing other people.

However, cultural context heavily influences heavily how people perceive these acts, and most people reading this paragraph will likely disagree on the extent to which these 'count' as killing. For such an evolved species, humans can be violent far beyond the point of humanity.

Why We Kill examines this violence in its many forms, exploring how culture plays a role in people’s understanding and definition of violent action. From the first chapter, which examines 'conventional' homicide, to the final chapter’s bone-chilling account of the Rwandan genocide, this fascinating book makes compelling reading. 

Dr Nancy Loucks is Visiting Professor at the Centre for Law, Crime & Justice, Strathclyde Law School. She is also Chief Executive of the prominent charity, Families Outside, which raises awareness of the impact imprisonment has on families, hitting their incomes, affecting the education of children, and breaking the family ties - about half of prisoners lose touch with their families. It trains prison staff and teachers, and seeks to give families confidence to speak out and seek support, rather than be silenced by stigma.

Prof Loucks is also a highly experienced academic researcher in imprisonment, prison policy and comparative criminology. She has conducted extensive research into human rights issues in prison, female and young offenders, prison violence and protests, addiction, suicides and self-harm, violence risk assessment and management, the experience of offenders with learning difficulties and learning disabilities, homelessness amongst ex-prisoners, and the maintenance of prisoners' family ties. 

Prof Loucks teaches on the LLM / MSc in Criminal Justice and Penal Change and works with colleagues at the Centre for Law, Crime & Justice

Why We Kill: Understanding Violence Across Cultures and Disciplines, 2nd ed

Edited by Prof Nancy Loucks, Families Outside and University of Strathclyde, UK; Dr Sally Smith Holt, Belmont University, USA; and Prof Joanna R. Adler, University of Hertfordshire, UK

The book will be available electronically to students and staff through the University library.