An introductory Q&A with the Complicity Studies research network.

Q: How did the Complicity Studies network come about? 

The Complicity Studies network came about through a conversation had over dinner between three PhDs in English, Criminology and International Law. We realised that we all worked on issues of complicity in one way or another, and shared a frustration that there wasn’t a substantial interdisciplinary literature on the subject. So we decided to take the first steps towards creating it.

Q: By definition, a CRASSH research network has an interdisciplinary question at its core. What is yours?

How can we think through the various dimensions of complicity? What are its legal and political implications? And how is it represented artistically? Thinking across disciplines in this way allows us to think about the multi-layered and complex nature of the subject. We’re asking how complicit in current injustice is the average person? What part do we each have to play in climate change? When we vote for a political party, are we partially responsible for what it goes on to do in government? Are legal definitions of complicity divorced from social and cultural ones? These questions cannot be answered through a narrow disciplinary frame, but require a broad scope to think through properly.

Q: Could you tell us a bit more about this year’s convenors, speakers and attendees and the perspectives they bring to the discussion?

We have a really wonderful range of experts working in various different disciplines, historical eras and parts of the world. Our first session will be with the editors of a fascinating essay collection called Exploring Complicity, who will help us and our participants think about various issues and complications with studying the subject. We follow this with experts from within the University, working in Criminology and International Law to give us a flavour of how their disciplines approach the subject, followed by a comparative approach to two major partition events in the post-war world. Our final week in Michaelmas will be a screening and discussion of the 2012 Academy Award-winning documentary ‘The Act of Killing’, that interviews participants in the mass anti-communist killings in Indonesia in 1965 in which the killers re-enact their crimes for the cameras.

Q: What can we expect from Complicity Studies in 2022/23?

Later in the year, we will continue to have a wide range of historical and legal frameworks exploring complicity, including third-world approaches to international law and explorations of global financial systems and their origins with the British empire.

Q: How can people learn more about your Network?

You can find out more on our network page and you can stay updated and get involved by following our Twitter account.

  • Written by Ana Leticia Blasi Magini (PhD student, Law), Sophie Dixon (PhD student, Criminology), and Danny Shanahan (PhD Student, English).



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