Please tell us about your research project
Situated at the crossroads of the academia and activism, penal abolitionism is a social movement, a theoretical perspective and a political strategy committed to resisting and contesting penal logics, policies, and practices, as well as constructing and promoting other forms of social regulation. Since its inception in the late 1960s, it has incorporated individual members and groups from across Western Europe, including the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom. My dissertation traces both the social and transnational history of ideas about and activist mobilisations for penal abolitionism in Europe from the 1960s to the present.
I use two specific research perspectives to conceptualise this object. First, the social history of ideas allows me to explore the social and political mechanisms of production of ideas, on the uses, exchanges and transfers they undergo, and on their differentiated diffusion and circulation. Second, I turn to the sociology of social movements, which analyses diverse forms of organised collective action in favour of social change. In this case, I analyse the construction of the prison and penal system as a public problem, and the promotion of an alternative framing of social reality that implies other kinds of political solutions. My arguments draw on qualitative analysis of abolitionist literature, the archives of activist groups, and oral histories with individual members of the movement. I also use quantitative research, including a prosopographical approach and social network analysis, based on the constitution and the use of relational databases.
My one-month stay at the Maison Française d'Oxford allows me to conduct research on abolitionism in the UK: to visit the libraries in Oxford and London, which are rich in abolitionist publications; to consult the archives of various cities, which contain the archives of British abolitionist groups; to conduct interviews with people involved in this.
Could you please tell us a bit more about your scholarship/exchange programme?
This one-month research stay is part of a partnership between the MFO and Sciences Po Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which I would like to thank for allowing me to come here.
First impressions of Oxford/the University?
I had already come to Oxford as a tourist, but staying here longer gives me a whole new perspective on this beautiful city. I particularly appreciate the rich library collections, the vibrant student life and the lovely surroundings, with their beautiful parks.