Florence Seemungal

Research Associate


Florence Seemungal is a Trinidadian multi-disciplinary researcher: BSc Sociology Hons, University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus; Certificate in Gender and Development Studies (Distinction), University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus; PhD Cognitive Psychology, University of Southampton, 2001; Certificate in International Human Rights Law and Practice, LSE 2006.  She was a former Research Officer at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford and she is currently a Research Associate of the Centre for Criminology. As Adjunct Staff of the University of the West Indies Open Campus she delivers courses in Abnormal Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Community and Environmental Psychology, Psychology Practicum, Introduction to Social Psychology and Sociology of Youth. Her teaching and research themes are linked to the Centre of Criminology’s Death Penalty Research Unit. As a researcher for the Death Penalty Project London (2003-2020) she is co-author, with Professor Roger Hood, of various reports: A Rare and Arbitrary Fate: Conviction for Murder, the Mandatory Death Penalty and the Reality of Homicide in Trinidad and Tobago (2006); Experiences and Perceptions of the Mandatory Death Sentence for Murder in Trinidad and Tobago: Judges, Prosecutors and Counsel, in A Penalty without Legitimacy: The Mandatory Death Penalty in Trinidad and Tobago (2009); Public Opinion on the Mandatory Death Penalty in Trinidad (2011), and Sentenced to Death Without Execution. Why capital punishment has not yet been abolished in the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados: The views of opinion formers (2020). She also co-authored two book chapters with Dr Lizzie Seal: Impact of the Imposition of the Death Penalty on Families of the Convicted in the Caribbean (2016) and Death Penalty and its Impact on the Professionals Involved in the Execution Process (2016) in Death Penalty and the Victims (UN, OHCHR). Drs Seal, Black, Seemungal and Malkani are currently funded by the British Academy to examine the death penalty globally in three areas. First, an historical analysis of the export of the death penalty in the colonial era with a focus on Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Second, an examination of historical and contemporary campaigns against the death penalty. Third, a legal analysis of the UK’s complicity with the global death penalty. Preliminary findings were discussed at the office of the Death Penalty Project London in January, 2020 and will also be discussed via a virtual seminar titled Reforming British Law and Policy on the Global Death Penalty, September 15, 2020. Findings were presented in Black, Seal & Seemungal (2019). Public Opinion on crime, punishment and the death penalty in Barbados, Punishment & Society, 1-18.Outputs of this project included a Special Issue of Punishment & Society: Legacies of Empire (September 2021) Eds. Dr Lynsey Black, Professor Lizzie Seal, Dr. Florence Seemungal, Dr. Bharat and Dr. Roger Ball. The details can be viewed via the link below.https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/14624745211040652 In November 2021 a funding award was given by the University of Sussex ESRC IAA Fast Track Engagement scheme to Professor Lizzie Seal, University of Sussex, Dr. Lynsey Black and Dr Florence Seemungal. This will enable the recipients to host two workshops on theme of the " Reforming the death penalty in Barbados" scheduled for May, 2022.  Florence’s empirical work links to the Centre for Criminology’s focus in Psychology and Law. She collaborates with colleagues in the Department of Experimental Psychology (Professors Murphy, Martin and Dr. Dowker) as well as the Faculty of Philosophy (Professor Alison Denham) and is a founder member of the Oxford-Tulane Developmental Justice Network established in 2017. https://www.developmentaljustice.org/ The network’s studies on  mental health and psychopathology in adult and juvenile prisoners (primarily in Barbados) was funded by Oxford University via the John Fell Fund, the KE Knowledge grant and the KE Seed grant. The network is currently undertaking a funded two-year juvenile justice project in Barbados at the State detention facilities. The large grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation facilitated a comprehensive mental health assessment of the detained youths 13 to 16 years and the roll out of a PATH mentorship program to assist the reintegration of the youths into society post-detention, to manage their risk taking behaviours, and to build resilience and risk adverse behaviours.https://liberalarts.tulane.edu/newsletter/philosophy-professor-awarded-templeton-grant-juvenile-justice-reform In May 2020 Florence and other researchers across the Law Faculty partnered with Oxford Brookes University and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Services (HMPPS) to form a Domestic Violence Network and to present papers at a virtual seminar titled Global Perspectives on Domestic  and Interpersonal Violence: Courts, Challenges, Solutions. Focus was placed on the potential of confinement, curfews and lock-downs due to the covid-19 pandemic to threaten the safety of adults and children who were vulnerable to domestic violence abuse.  The discussion explored the extent to which courts are employing e-technology in domestic violence case management during the lock down period and post-confinement period. The speakers listed below provided an update regarding these issues during their presentation. • Dr.  Florence Seemungal: Domestic Violence in Trinidad and Tobago: Protective Rights and International Treaty Obligations, UWI Open Campus, CSLS Oxford.• Emma Buxton-Namisnyk,  DPhil Law Oxford University -"And it gets to court and that's where it fails our women": (Institutional violence within) Court and justice responses to Aboriginal women who experience domestic violence in Australia'. Dr. Sarah Bekaert, Lecturer Oxford Brookes University, Inter Personal Violence amongst teens. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faNK0rqkats&feature=youtu.be• Miss Aradhana Cheruparavadekkethi, Rape Adjudication in India, DPhil Law Oxford University• Mr. Joseph McAulay, Unseen Victims: Understanding and Meeting the Needs of Gay and Bisexual Male Victims of Intimate Partner Violence DPhil Criminology, Oxford University.• Penny Ehrhardt,  Decolonising responses to family violence in Aotearoa New Zealand. Senior Associate, Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, Victoria University (New Zealand) DPhil Law Oxford University.• Miss Roxaanne Sanderson: Child Abuse Interventions and Challenges Barbados,  Child Protection Board Barbados and the University of the West Indies Open Campus. A summary of the presentations can be found at the following links.https://www.hmppsinsights.co.uk/global-perspectives-on-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-domestic-and-interpersonal-violence-courts-challenges-solutions/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faNK0rqkats&feature=youtu.be The collection titled "Domestic Violence A Shadow COVID-19 Pandemic: An International and Interdisciplinary View"  (Seemungal, F. Ed) comprises 22 chapters and is under review by a UK publishing house. Chapters offer an inter-disciplinary view of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the incidence of domestic violence. It includes analysis and policy recommendations from social scientists, psychologists, lawyers, economists, medics, and members of the judiciary. The global coverage includes the Caribbean, South and Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia. Florence's chapter is titled, 'A Situational Analysis of Domestic Violence before and during the Covid-19 pandemic in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and Barbados'.  


In May 2021 Florence and her colleague Georgina Chami established the Global South Human Rights and Border Control Consortium. They are currently preparing their edited collection Border Criminology, Migration and Human Rights in the Global South: An Interdisciplinary View’ (Seemungal, F & Chami, G). Contributors include social and political scientists, lawyers, international relations experts, academic consultants on migration studies, as well as staff from UNHCR and the International Office of Migration (IOM) based in the Southern Caribbean. Twenty-five chapters are currently in preparation for delivery to the publisher for review in May 2022. The Global South is defined by a country's wealth and development rather than a geographical line. Hence, the book covers cutting edge issues in migration and refugee studies supported by empirical evidence from Latin America, South America, Africa, Italy, Australasia, the Caribbean, Afghanistan, Iran and India. It includes a discussion of domestic and public international law.

Florence's chapters are titled: 'Border Criminology in the Global South: A Psycho-Legal Perspective.’ and 'The Plight of Invisible Forced Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees in Trinidad and Tobago." The chapters aim to fill in the gaps in the under explored area of psycho-legal discourse relating to human mobility, displacement and integration particularly as they pertain to invisible groups such as children, youths and indigenous migrants such as the Warao group which lives in the Forested Areas of South West Trinidad. Providing services for the invisible groups challenges humanitarian efforts to integrate displaced persons into the local environment and community.  Displaced persons are encumbered by xenophobic attitudes and the threat of failed dreams in the receiving society, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and mood disorders induced by deteriorating conditions in the homeland, the hazardous journey to a perceived better life, lack of basic needs for survival, separation of the family unit, often harsh treatment by border control agents and the threat of, or actual, deportation.

Florence brings to the border criminology book project her experience as a reviewer for the International Journal of Human Rights, Former Editorial Intern and Current Associate of Behavioural and Brain Sciences, Current Anthropology and co-guest editor of Punishment & Society (September 2021). Special Issue: Legacies of Empire. She welcomes collaborations with interested academic and non-academic stakeholders.


Research Interests

Learning, Memory and Cognition; Memory and meta-memory processing; recall and recognition accuracy; accuracy of feeling-of-knowing predictions; Eyewitness/Child Witness Testimony; Calibrating the Confidence-Accuracy Relationship; Domestic Violence, Capital Punishment, Psycho-legal dynamics of the courtroom; Homicide Studies; Offender/Victim profiling, judicial decision-making and case determination in criminal justice, forensic psychology, psychopathology.

Research projects & programmes

Centre for Criminology