Oblique intent

Why the name? Well criminal law afficionados will recognise the phrase 'oblique intent' as referring to a problem of mens rea:can a person who intends to do x (such as setting fire to a building to scare the occupants) also be said to have an intention to kill if one of the occupants dies? This is a problem that has consumed an inordinate amount of time in the appeal courts and in the legal journals, and can be taken to represent a certain kind of approach to legal theory. My approach is intended to be more oblique to this mainstream approach, and thus to raise different kinds of questions and issues. Hence the name.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

On punishing photography

Most of my posts so far have been about aspects of criminal law or doctrine that have caught my eye, as promised. Something different, though, is this new blog called Punishing Photography. This documents a fascinating new collaboration between artists and criminologists, and is based in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research at the University of Glasgow (see here for more info).

What is particularly interesting about this project is that rather focusing on images of crime or criminals, prisons or punishment, it is studying criminologists. This is surely important. Crime as an object is rather taken for granted - and most of my posts have been directed at challenging some of the taken for granted assumptions that underlie legal definitions of crime. But this project is broader. There have been many studies of the intellectual processes by which a set of ideas, or a discipline, is formed - what counts as knowledge, what are the methods associated with the discipline, how does it promote itself, and so on - but there are few (if any) studies of the rather more mundane, day-to-day, processes through which this is done. And what is particularly interesting about this is that it is not other academics but an artist who is doing the observing and documenting. What happens when an artist studies criminologists studying punishment? It is a rare opportunity to develop a different kind of perspective on the work that we do.

This is a fascinating idea and I am really intrigued to see how it develops during the period of the residency.

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