On 25 and 26 June 2015, Brunilda Pali from the KU Leuven and Christa Pelikan from the IRKS attended the International Cultural Criminology Conference ‘The Other’ in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
The conference, dealing with cultural criminology, had about 80 participants, all of them also active as presenters. It was predominantly scientists from the Netherlands and the UK and quite a lot of PHD students talking about their respective research. ‘The atmosphere was relaxed and intense at the same time’, Christa says. ‘Because of the high number of presenters, we had been asked to be short and sweet, each presentation not exceeding 15 minutes. This left little time for discussion and this was truly a drawback.’
‘The presentation had been put together rather cleverly, albeit finding ourselves in a section called “Keeping Order” seemed strange at first’, Christa continues. ‘In fact, we did not quite “fit” in the overall conference frame, since we were not talking about crime. This said, we found the conference altogether really stimulating.’
‘I’d like to mention the keynote speech: ‘Looking for Unknown Others’ by Jeff Ferrell’, says Christa. ‘It was a really stupendous tour de force through the history of the notion and the politics of ‘the Other’ in Criminology starting from Stan Cohen’s Folk Devils and Moral Panics’ until the most recent developments – leaving open the question of where we are probably heading at.’
Brunilda Pali, co-presenter for the ALTERNATIVE project, also found that Jeff Ferrell asked some poignant questions: ‘As a major cultural criminologist, he asked: what would be the media equivalent of a rundown hotel, a media ruin? If you want to investigate where alternative cultural representations for ‘the others’ are taking place and who are excluded from public space and mainstream media, you look in spaces on highways, rundown hotels, under the bridge, and what would then be the media equivalent of that? He also spoke about the need to excavate absence, so when people are excluded and you don’t see them, where are they?’
Christa found several presentations worthwhile: ‘There were interesting contributions, I want to mention the panels ‘Life Stories, ‘Doing Art’ and ‘Screening the Other’ which I attended. Very few have to be called ‘poor’ ones’