Elizabeth is a Lecturer in Sociology at the Violence and Society Centre, City University of London where she researches fatal violence, family and community.
She is a Research Associate in the Centre for Criminology which she joined in January 2019 as an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the project Bereaved Family Activism in the Aftermath of Lethal Violence. This research explored the phenomenon of bereaved family activism: the attempts by bereaved relatives to confront their experiences of violent bereavement to engage in organised, responsive and public campaigns. The aim of this project was to better understand the experiences of those bereaved by lethal violence and what role bereaved families can play in shaping criminal justice policy and practice.
She has previously worked at the University of Manchester, funded by an ESRC +3 Studentship and President's Doctoral Scholarship, and the University of Sheffield, as a Max Batley Peace Studies Research Associate, on a project to reduce the effects of violence within cities.
- Images of maternal suffering are an evocative and powerful means of communication in a world where the private grief of victims has increasingly become subject to commodification and public consumption. This article looks at the influence of bereaved mothers as symbols of respect, peace, and dignity in the aftermath of violence and as a result their persuasive presence in family activism. Drawing upon two case studies, this article explores the importance of victims’ stories in public life and, in particular, the presence of the charismatic matriarch in creating communities of solidarity, raising awareness of harms that have previously gone unheard and prompting policy change. It considers the ‘canonical’ story of the mother in public life and concludes by arguing that more attention should be paid to victims’ stories and their influence on policy making, politics, and eventually in becoming public grievances.The potential for a 'narrative turn' in victimology carries with it all kinds of possibilities and problems in adding nuanced understandings smoothed out and sometimes erased from the vision of victimhood provided by criminal victimisation data. In this chapter, we explore the methodological and theoretical questions posed by such a narrative turn by presenting the case of Eve: a mother bereaved by gun violence that unfolded in Manchester two decades ago. Excavated using in-depth biographical interviewing, Eve told the story of the loss of her son, the role of faith in dealing with the aftermath of violence and eventually, how this story became a source for change for the community in which it was read and heard. Eve’s story provided an impetus for establishing a grassroots anti-violence organisation and continued to be the driver for that same group long after the issue it was formed to address had become less problematic. As a story it served different purposes for the individual concerned, for the group they were a part of, and for the wider community in which the group emerged. However, this particular story also raises questions for victimology in its understanding of the role of voice in policy and concerning the nature of evidence for both policy and the discipline itself. This chapter considers what lessons narrative victimology might learn from narrative criminology, the overlaps that the stories of victims and offenders might share, and what the implications these might have for understanding what it means to be harmed.The act of witnessing the suffering of others is an unfortunately characteristic feature of modern life. Contemporary media culture has prompted a proliferation of new ways of seeing and spectating irrespective of where, when, or who you are. The trends towards globalisation, the collapse of public and private spheres in late modernity, and the saturation of society with visual representations of suffering have encouraged us to understand, empathise with and imagine the suffering of others. These developments have raised new questions in criminology regarding the moral responsibility of witnessing suffering, the ethics of spectatorship and the dangers of empty gestures of outrage and voyeurism. Following Richard Quinney’s notion of ‘criminologists as witnesses’, this chapter explores the responsibilities of criminologists in bearing witness to the aftermath of mass atrocities. The discussion draws upon fieldwork reflections on attending the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Srebrenica Massacre at the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial and Cemetery in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The notion of witnessing is used here as a way of making sense of these experiences arguing that criminologists should move beyond mere spectatorship and towards how we act upon these experiences. The act of witnessing can be uncomfortable and unfamiliar. However, for an exhaustive insight into lethal violence these emotions must be written in rather than written out of criminological research.
- Fatal Violence
- Traumatic Bereavement
- Family Activism