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The (European Criminology Oral History (ECOH) Project started this year in Münster!
The ESC is growing in members and in attendance at its annual conferences. European criminology has developed rapidly in recent decades, and despite many challenges, it is still growing. There are now several generations of European criminologists, many different working groups and networks, and many schools of thought and empirical and theoretical approaches. No doubt, the ESC has played a major role in these developments.
Now the ESC is engaged in a new project that aims to support these developments further by strengthening connections among generations of scholars and making the thoughts and ideas of prominent European criminologists available in a new way. It is the Oral History project, approved by the ESC Board, and supervised by new President Rossella Selmini, with the assistance of Marco Calaresu of the University of Sassari.
Our goal is to give voices (and faces!) to scholars and researchers who have played roles in this process, by creating an archive of video-recorded interviews. These will allow all of us to look backwards at the lives, ideas, and accomplishments of people who laid the foundations of modern European criminology. The videos will also be immensely useful for research and teaching. The archive will be hosted on the website of the ESC.
A similar project has been underway for many years by the American Society of Criminology. The two archives will be coordinated and mutually reinforcing. However, the ESC focus is, of course, more on “Europe” and on matters and people of particular significance in the European context.
The interviews are broadly based on the following themes: the interviewees’ careers; their past and current research interests; their views on criminology in national and European contexts; the role of ESC; and their predictions about future developments in European criminology. We think it is important that interviewers know the people being interviewed well, usually either because they have a mentor-mentee relationship or have worked together in some other capacity in the past. In this way the interviews become conversations between generations on which viewers can eavesdrop.
We envision three stages. In the first, we are mostly interviewing founding members of the ESC, former ESC presidents, and people who received ESC Career Scholarship Awards. The spectrum of interviews will be broadened in the second stage to include other European criminologists who played prominent roles in the development of criminology in their own countries or in Europe generally, even if they have not been actively involved in the ESC. Finally, in the third stage, the focus will broaden again to include younger generations of European criminologists.
We began the first stage this year at the ESC annual conference in Münster, wonderfully supported by the local organizers and particularly by Daniele Florio, a Münster University student volunteering at the conference. We completed the first eight interviews – a great success, considering that organizing, conducting, and filming them proved to be logistically and technically complicated. We were lucky to find a promising young, award-winning videographer Enrico Rassu, whose involvement assures the technical quality of the work. By coincidence, the team was entirely Italian, which should assure a great aesthetic result!
We will keep members updated through the newsletter on the development of the project and on when the tapes will be available on the ESC website.
Rossella Selmini is Professor at the Deparment of Sociology, University of Minnesota, Minnesota, USA, and the President of the ESC.
Marco Calaresu is Assistant Professor at the University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy.