The Leverhulme Trust: “Collections” Scholarships

Published on: Author: Ruth O'Donnell Leave a comment

Collections: an Enlightenment Pedagogy for the 21st Century
It is well known that in the three hundred years since the Enlightenment, knowledge worldwide has made giant steps – but that at the same time, this knowledge has become compartmentalised. Increasingly narrow specialisms deliver insight and technological advances – at a price. Knowledge reflects depth, but rarely, a breadth of understanding. All too easily, the various disciplines of the modern academy lose touch with each other, when there remains much that they might share. Clinicians, scientists, historians, criminologists, curators and literary scholars, should and could share knowledge, insight and methodology. The need for a holistic vision for the academy is all the more pressing now, as researchers confront an environment where advances in digitization and an accelerating global connectivity has further increased the complexity and sheer number of accessible collections, whether these are artefacts, data or other kinds of ‘collected’ material. In this context, what for example, might a clinician learn from a criminologist or an art historian about the ethics of provenance and questions of consent? Or how best do we use network theory in relation to collections of literary novels? By drawing on the extensive resources of the University of Glasgow, the City of Glasgow and established national and international networks, Collections presents a re-imagining of the Enlightenment ambition. Working in close collaboration with one another, the Collections students will explore historical and contemporary collections using quantitative and qualitative techniques derived from Science, the Arts and Humanities; methodologies emerging from Big Data; and analysis from within medical disciplines.

The School of Law has obtained one of five PhD projects associated with Collections for session 2017-18, on Collecting Criminal Statistics. The project will attract a doctoral scholarship providing maintenance (c. £14,500 in session 2017-18) and fees (Home/EU rate only) at Research Council rates.

Collecting Criminal Statistics: The Creation and Development of Sexual Offences

Criminal statistics are a particular type of collection, often taken to be neutral, tracking normative categories established elsewhere in the criminal justice system: the number of crimes of a particular sort committed in any given year; the number of convictions; the type of disposal and so on. At most they provide evidence of shifts in the incidence of certain crimes and punishment – and thus are taken as a broad measure of the effectiveness of criminal justice. It has been recognised that the relationship between statistics and the field that they measure is considerably more complex: creating particular objects, facilitating particular forms of intervention, and inscribing a particular relationship between state and society. However, there has been surprisingly little analysis of the development of criminal statistics, or of their relation to categories of criminal law or criminal populations and this project will aim to explore ways in which data has been collected and used in the development of modern criminal justice.

The area of sexual offences has the potential to offer unique insight into this relationship. Sexual offences is a relatively new category of the criminal law. From the first official usage of the term in 1956, this area of the law has expanded rapidly as new offences have been created and existing offences reformed, leading to the codification of the law in statutes in 2003 (England and Wales) and 2009 (Scotland). The development and refinement of criminal law categories has been closely linked to the collection of data about the incidence of sexual offences, the circumstances in which such offences were committed, the characteristics of sexual offenders, and how those accused of sexual offences were tried and disposed of in the criminal justice system. The proposed research will trace the specific forms of data that were collected about offences, how particular forms of conduct were identified and recorded as ‘sexual’ and how this information fed back into both the policy-making and law reform process to shape the contemporary category of sexual offences and understanding of certain behaviours as requiring criminal legal responses.

The objectives of the research will be (amongst others):

  • To map in a systematic way the broad lines in the development and categorisation of criminal statistics between their inception in 1810 and the present day and to situate this in the context of the development of statistics more generally;
  • To explore the use of criminal statistics in debates about criminal law reform throughout this period, with particular attention to the area of sexual offences, to explore how the understanding of crime in general, and of particular crimes, was shaped by the collection of statistical information;
  • To examine how the breakdown of information about offenders and types of crime can themselves enable the creation of new forms of criminal conduct; and how statistical information is deployed in policy debates about the creation of new crimes;
  • To trace the relationship between crime statistics, legal categories and the human populations they produce and organise;
  • To contribute to contemporary debates about the ongoing reform of the law in the area of sexual offences.

This project belongs to the Ethical thematic cluster. The successful candidate will be supervised by Prof Lindsay Farmer (Law) and Dr Sarah Armstrong (Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research).

Candidates interested in applying for funded PhD study on this project are encouraged to make informal contact with the Supervisor(s) in the first instance.

Candidates wishing to submit an application should prepare and submit the following documentation:

  • The application form which includes a personal statement in which you should detail the particular attributes and/or achievements which make you a suitable candidate to undertake the proposed project
  • Your CV
  • Your degree transcripts
  • Two letters of reference in support of your application

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is Friday, 3 March 2017. Applications should be emailed to Adeline Callander, Graduate School Administrator.

Leverhulme Collections Scholarship application form

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