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Report on "Placing Justice"

Fri. Jun. 17, 2016

Dr. Steven KohmDr. Steven Kohm, Criminal Justice
(
Photo credit: Rachel Berg)

Placing Justice
, which ran from May 9 - 11, is the most recent in a series of justice-themed conferences hosted by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Justice Studies (CIJS) housed in the Criminal Justice department at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Steven Kohm, Professor and Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, is Editor of the Annual Review of Interdisciplinary Justice Research and an active member of the CIJS. He files this report.

The CIJS is motivated by a desire to bridge disciplinary divides and foster intellectual exchange about justice across diverse constituencies that include scholars, students, and community members. In 2009, this led us to establish our spring conference series and a year later in 2010, our peer-reviewed journal The Annual Review of Interdisciplinary Justice Research (now accepting submissions for Volume 6). Our commitment to access to justice means that we never charge fees for our events and we embrace an open access model of publishing to ensure the work reaches a broad and diverse audience.       

Since 2009 the CIJS has “Theorized”, “Practiced”, “Questioned”, “Secured”, “Educated”, and now “Placed” justice at its annual spring event.  Placing Justice is the culmination of years of work at the CIJS to foster an open and inclusive place for intellectual exchange about law, crime and justice. This year’s conference broke new ground because the event was, for the first time, hosted jointly with the University of Ottawa and Carleton University’s Critical Perspectives workshop. This very first joint meeting affirms our long held belief that there is a need for a truly national interdisciplinary conversation about crime, law and social justice. It was extremely gratifying to host this event at the University of Winnipeg this spring.

Jeannette Tossounian and sculpture Ottawa artist and prisoners' rights activist, Jeannette Tossounian, was a participant at this year's conference. Here she is pictured with her sculpture "The Human Kennel" (photo supplied). For more on Tossounian's work, you can go to Jen Zoratti's piece, "Artist free to break chains of imprisonment," for the Winnipeg Free Press (May 10, 2016).







Each year, our conference attracts participants from across North America and around the world.  This year, delegates came from North and South Dakota, Illinois, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, the UK and as far away as Ghana. We had six featured keynote speakers, 65 individual paper presentations, two artistic exhibitions, and one featured panel discussion. This was our largest event yet and our attendance levels vastly exceeded our expectations. The event garnered significant local media attention spawning two invited op ed pieces, the news feature on Jeannette Tossounian in the Winnipeg Free Press and coverage by CBC radio.

The most important outcome of this year’s event was a renewed commitment to continue our joint collaborative efforts with Carleton and Ottawa to ensure that the event retains a national profile and unites interdisciplinary scholars of crime, law and justice from across North America and around the world.  Next year, we have agreed to take our justice event ‘on the road’ to Carleton University where we will once again open the halls of the academy to scholars, community activists, artists and students for an open and exclusive intellectual exchange about crime, law and justice. 

Lastly, we are indebted to our colleagues from around the university who helped to sponsor the event including Urban and Inner-city Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and the departments of Religion and Culture, Sociology, History, Geography and Criminal Justice as well as the Criminal Justice Student Association for their generous volunteer support. We also wish to thank the Dean of Arts, the VP Research and Innovation, the UWinnipeg's Chancellor’s Chair program as well as SSHRC, Research Manitoba, and the Law Foundation of Manitoba.