Call for articles for special issue on urban criminology

Special issue: Urban criminology, criminology of the urban?
Guest editors: Nina Persak (University of Ljubljana) and Simone Tulumello (University of Lisbon)  

European urban sociology has associated the city and urbanisation with crime since its own inception in the age of the industrial revolution. Thinkers such as Durkheim, Simmel or Laborit associated urban life – and industrialisation and the capitalist order – with anomie, detachment, aggressiveness, and thus violence and crime. These sociological ideas of the city as conducive – because of its size, growth or socio-economic characteristics – to crime are still very much present in modern thought, with repercussions, among others, for crime control responses in an age that has been described as ‘urban’ (UN Habitat). Criminology has often relied on simplistic understandings of the relation between (urban) space and crime, either ignoring the crucial importance of space or understanding it as a mere container of social practices. Complex issues of spatiality and territoriality have often been reduced to locations and spatial correlations, which do not help much in grasping the complex interrelations among social, cultural, political economic and spatial phenomena. At the same time, concepts – including crime and criminalisation – produced on the basis of the experiences of Western cities in the age of industrialisation have been used and abused to explain phenomena in other places of the world, thus failing to grasp the geographical nature of social phenomena and attributing simplistic labels to (‘violent’, ‘feral’, ‘chaotic’) cities of the Global South (see e.g. Norton, 2003). Recently, however, in line with critiques of the concept of the urban age (Brenner & Schmid, 2015), appeals have been made to overcome the simplistic association of crime with the locus of the city and to rather unravel the role of the process of capitalist urbanisation in producing violence and criminalisation (Pavoni & Tulumello, 2018).

There is wide scope, therefore, for working toward the construction of an urban criminology (cf. Atkinson & Millington, 2018) capable of reflecting on the specific – historical, political, economic, socio-cultural – ideas, phenomena and processes that associate the urban with crime (and violence). The aim of this special issue of Criminological Encounters is to take some further steps toward the construction of such criminological perspective by inviting empirical and theoretical articles with the ambition of going beyond linear associations between (urban) space and crime/violence. A crucial component of this endeavour is that of decentring the production of urban and criminological theories by looking at ‘ordinary’ (cf. Robinson, 2006) urban experiences, those of the Global South and, more generally, of places that have remained at the ‘borderlands’ of theorisation (Sandercock, 1998) – we particularly welcome empirical and comparative articles relevant for such an endeavour.   Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

• conceptualisations of urban crime, criminalisation and violence;
• spatialisation of urban crime;
• understandings of the spatiality and territorialisation of the state response to crime and criminalisation (policing, patrolling, community policing, and so forth);
• crime, criminalisation and urban change (gentrification, touristification, financialisation, urban renewal, regeneration, and so forth);
• the public order, incivilities and public spaces;
• the spatiality of protests and urban conflicts;
• surveillance and/in the ‘smart’ city;
• the spatial component of fear of crime and violence in the city;
• a critical approach to the ideas of hotspots and predictive policing;
• socio-spatial cohesion and its impacts in crime prevention;
• urban securitisation and militarisation.

 Please submit your full article following the guidelines of Criminological Encounters by February 28, 2020. Criminological Encounters publishes full original articles but also other alternative formats like artistic interventions, short opinion pieces, book reviews, interviews, forums, among others. For a full description of the guidelines please click here. We mainly work with texts in English but exceptionally accept contributions in the other languages mastered by our editorial team, that is, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian. All articles will go through the usual peer-review process, with the goal of publishing the issue by late 2020.

Please feel free to contact the editors of the special issue (; for any further information. 

  Atkinson, R. & Millington, R. (2018). Urban Criminology. The City, Disorder, Harm and Social Control. London:
Routledge. Brenner, N. & Schmid, C. (2013). The ‘Urban Age’ in question.International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 38(3), 731-755.
Norton, R. J. (2003). Feral cities. Naval War College Review, LVI(4), 97-106.
Pavoni, A. & Tulumello, S. (2018). What is urban violence? Progress in Human Geography. Online first.
Robinson, J. (2006). Ordinary Cities: Between Modernity and Development. London: Routledge.
Sandercock, L. (1995). Voices from the borderlands: A meditation on a metaphor. Journal of Planning Education and Research 14(2), 77-88.