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.



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  • E Cook, Family Activism in the Aftermath of Fatal Violence (Routledge 2021) (forthcoming)
    Family Activism in the Aftermath of Fatal Violence explores how family and family activism work at the intersection of personal and public troubles and considers what influence family testimonies of fatal violence can have on matters of crime, justice and punishment. The problem of fatal violence represents one end of a long continuum of violence that marks society, the effects of which endure in families and friends connected through ties of kinship, identity and social bonds. The aftermath of fatal violence can therefore be an intensely personal encounter which confronts families with disorder and uncertainty. Nevertheless, bereaved families are often found at the forefront of efforts to expose injustice, rouse public consciousness and drive forward social change that seeks to prevent violence from happening again. This book draws upon ethnographic research with those bereaved by gun violence who became involved in family activism in the context of fatal violence: namely, the attempts by bereaved families to manage their experiences of violent death through public expressions of grief and become proxies for wider debates on social injustice. This is an ever more pressing issue in a landscape which increasingly sees the delegation of responsibility to families and communities that are left to deal with the aftermath of violence. An accessible and compelling read, this book will appeal to students and scholars of criminology, sociology, cultural studies and all those interested in learning more about the after-effects of fatal violence.
    ISBN: 9780367422783
  • E Cook, 'Bereaved Family Activism' in P Davies and J Tapley (eds), Victimology: Research, Policy and Activism (Palgrave Macmillan 2020)
    ISBN: 978-3-030-42287-5
  • E Cook and S Walklate, 'Gendered Objects and Gendered Spaces: The Invisibilities of ‘Knife’ Crime' (2020) Current Sociology
    The knife is a relatively mundane, domestic and easily accessible household item. At the same time, it is the most commonly used weapon in intimate partner homicide. Recently however the knife has become an object of fear and panic in England and Wales when used in public by mostly young men on other young men. This aim of this article is to offer some reflections on the conundrums posed by these two observations. Here the ‘knife’ is considered through the integrated lenses of space, gender and materiality. Situated in this way the contemporary preoccupation with ‘knife’ crime illustrates the ongoing and deeply held assumptions surrounding debates on public and private violence. Whilst criminology has much to say on gender and violence the gendered, spatialized, and material presence of the knife remains poorly understood. In prioritising ‘knife’ crime as a ‘public’ problem over its manifestation as an ongoing ‘private’ one, its gendered and spatialized features remain hidden thus adding to the failure of policy to tackle ‘knife’ crime in the round.
  • E Cook, 'Motherhood, Moral Authority and the Charismatic Matriarch in the Aftermath of Lethal Violence' (2020) Criminology and Criminal Justice
    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.
  • E Cook and A Ellis, 'Violence in the City: Inequality, Intimidation and Fear' in J Dobson, R Atkinson (ed), Urban Crisis, Urban Hope: A Manifesto for a Precarious Age (Anthem Press 2020)
  • E Cook and S Walklate, 'Excavating Victim Stories: Making Sense of Agency, Suffering and Redemption' in L Presser, J Fleetwood, S Sandberg and T Ugelvik (eds), The Emerald Handbook of Narrative Criminology (Emerald 2019)
    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.
  • E Cook, 'Witnessing, Responsibility and Spectatorship in the Aftermath of Mass Violence: Fieldwork Reflections from Srebrenica' in S Walklate, M Hviid Jacobsen (ed), Towards a Criminology of Emotions: Connecting Crime and Emotions (Routledge 2019)
    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.


Research projects

Research Interests

  • Victims
  • Fatal Violence
  • Traumatic Bereavement
  • Family
  • Family Activism


Research projects