ESRC to fund major new international comparative criminology study

Laura Piacentini, Professor of Criminology at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, has won a major ESRC award to explore cultures of punishment in the former USSR (fSU).

She will be working with international university research partners from the University of Glasgow, the Higher School of Economics, St Petersburg, Russia and the University of Nazarbayev, Astana, Kazakhstan. The circa £735k project titled, “In the Gulag’s Shadow: Producing, Consuming and Perceiving Prison in the Former Soviet Union”, will be the first systematic, theoretical and cultural study, in the world, of post-Soviet incarceration. This unique project aims to map prison rates, prison conditions and processes of penal policy in the fSU; analyse contemporary social attitudes to punishment, and interrogate how representations of punishment constitute a symbolic site through which cultural understandings of history, political power and citizen-state relationships are formed.

This exciting international study will make long-lasting research and impact in the comparative criminology and penal sociology fields. It will further global understanding of world incarceration realised through working with international impact partners including: the Institute of Criminal Policy Research at Birkbeck, The University of London, six museums of former political oppression in the two countries, a diverse stakeholder community and an international advisory board of world experts in the fields of visual criminology, international prisons and popular punitiveness.