In memoriam

Let us know if you would like to contribute a short memorial for someone who made a significant contribution to the Common Study Programme and the study of Critical Criminology in its many facets in their lifetime please send a write up and potentially a photograph for inclusion.

Roger Matthews (1948-2020)

Reflections on the life and work of Roger Matthews, by Julie Bindel:

Vassilis Karydis

Commemoration Vassilis Karydis, DCGC conference Utrecht, 28 June 2018 — by René van Swaaningen

Not for nothing, tragedy (Τραγωδία) is originally a Greek word, just like catastrophe (καταστροφή). Yet again we have to say goodbye to one of our dearest comrades from the common study programme on critical criminology.

I know Vasilis since ‘the Greek connection’ with the common study programme was established in the mid-1990s. Ever since, when nobody seemed able to organise a common session – which was not seldom the case in autumn – Vassilis always helped out, by offering to have a next common session in Athens or Corinth. Obviously, this was welcomed by everybody, since all of us like to come to Greece, but also because, particularly during the years the austerity measures hit Greece the hardest, to ascertain that the ‘Greek connection’ was alive and kicking. And: Vassilis was always a great host, not only academically, but also when it comes to good food and tasting some good ouzo and tsipouro. Last autumn in Corinth I had the pleasure of sharing quite a bit of these goodies with him.

In the emails that were sent around after Vassilis passed away, it was often mentioned what a nice human being Vassilis was: and right so! I have seldom known an academic who is so immediately sympathetic, keeps far from the ego-mania that is so prevalent in academia and yet has an unmistakable presence, that cannot be overlooked.

In fact, all these emails have something ironic to it: Vassilis never used email – neither PowerPoint, nor did he have a smartphone… at least not to my knowledge.

Entering in his beige-brown raincoat, a bit like inspector Columbo did in the TV-series from the 1970s, Vassilis always starts his lectures browsing through his papers in a gawky way, seemingly not knowing how to begin, but once he starts, he always has a very clear message. Sometimes someone else made a PowerPoint presentation for him, even with video clips of for example the Greek fascists of Golden Dawn (Χρυσή Αυγή) smashing market stalls of immigrant vendors. Man, how outraged this made him! During his last common session, last April in Canterbury, he was quite pessimistic about the way the virulent racism of Golden Dawn had permeated mainstream Greek society.

The Greek kleptocrats in government and the business community made him equally angry: yet another Greek word (κλεπτοκράτες)! Vassilis was not always so nice and easy going! Not surprisingly for a man who, if I am not mistaken, was a lawyer of the Revolutionary Organisation 17 November (Επαναστατική Οργάνωση 17 Νοέμβρη), that strived for a violent turnover of the political and economic system in the aftermath of the Greek military junta in the mid-1970s. My best ‘Vassilis-experience’ in this respect was during a common session in Athens, in the early days of the crisis of the 2000s, when a member of the parliamentary commission of enquiry on corruption, more particular on the Siemens case, held a talk in which she explained the fact that the committee had not been able to achieve much, because it had so little means, was met by a particularly fierce Vassilis Karydis, who argued they were mere cowards, who simply did not dare to hold all these powerful kleptocrats involved accountable.

Politics and Vassilis Karydis were never very far from each other. This was not only reflected in his academic work on Visions of Social Control in Greece from 2010, Penal Incarceration and Rights from 2011 and Moral Panics, Power and Rights from 2015, of which I could unfortunately only read a bit, since most of it was in Greek – and the ancient Greek I had at school turned out to be of little use in this respect – but also, and maybe even more importantly, in his function as a member of law-making committees at the Greek Ministries of Public Order and of Justice, of the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Degrading and Inhuman Treatment, of the Greek Central Scientific Council of State Penitentiaries (KESF), of the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute (IMEPO), and last but not least as the Greek Deputy Ombudsman of human rights since 2010 and acting Ombudsman since 2015.

In this latter quality, I really came to realise how important this modest man actually was. In 2015, our Rotterdam criminological student organisation CIA (Criminology In Action) had planned a study trip to Athens. The theme was to be ‘the migration crisis’. Initially, they met especially a lot of closed doors, when they planned visits to for example an asylum seekers’ centre, the Hellenic coast guard and Frontex, the aliens police and a migration court… until I decided to drop Vassilis a line. Then literally all doors opened: we were warmly welcomed everywhere! And after some interesting discussions at the office of the Greek ombudsman, we were guided through the strongholds of both the Greek fascist movement and the anarchists’ territory Exarchia (Εξάρχεια) by Iannis Boutselis, a researcher at the ombudsman’s office, who was very knowledgeable about Greece’s recent political history and presence and a great host. Thanks to Vassilis, this was one of the best study trips we ever had! I am sure our Rotterdam PhD candidate Marilena Drymioti will profit a lot from the warm contacts with the Greek ombudsman for her research on the violence that arose in Athens during and after the political and ecomonic crisis, even when Vassilis can no longer be a member of her doctorate committee; as had been the plan.

As acting Ombudsman, Vassilis also signed an agreement with us, connecting the Greek Ombudsman’s Office to a new Research Master’s programme on Border Crossing, Security and Social Justice, we are establishing currently from Rotterdam, together with the universities of Bologna, Ghent and Kent. Vassilis successor as Deputy Ombudman for human rights, George Nikolopoulos, has consolidated this connection last May with a visit to Rotterdam and thereby our bond with with Vassilis Karydis.

I am very greatful to have known such a warm and erudite person as Vassilis Karydis, who I truly consider a friend.The most appropriate word that comes to my mind as a goodbye is: yamas!

Jock Young (1942-2013)

Reflections on the life and work of Jock Young, by Keith Hayward and Roger Matthews:

Louk Hulsman (1923-2009)

Louk Hulsman

“The Rotterdam penal law and criminology professor emeritus Louk Hulsman died on the 28th of January 2009 at the age of 85. He was, apart from Nils Christie and Thomas Mathiesen, one of the most important penal abolitionists worldwide.  Louk was also the director of the Rasphuys Institute and was, amongst other commitments, a leading member of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, the Netherlands representative of ICOPA [International Conference on Penal Abolitionism] as well as Chair of The Coornhert League for the Reformation of the Criminal Law.

In the Netherlands, Louk is regarded as the founder of liberal drugs policy as his influential work and stance contributed significantly to the alteration of the Opium Act in 1976. His most influential publications include the Report on Decriminalisation (Council of Europe, 1980) and Peines perdues. Le systeme penal en question (written together with Jacqueline Bernat de Celis, 1982). He is perhaps most well known for “Critical criminology and the concept of crime” which was first published in 1986 and has been widely reproduced since.”

–Dr. Andrea Beckmann, Senior Lecturer in criminology, University of Lincoln

An Interview with Louk Hulsman by Iñaki Rivera 2004 (20th Annual Common Session)

Mike Presdee (1944-2009)

Mike Presdee

On 10 July 2009 University of Kent Criminologist Mike Presdee passed away after a long battle with cancer.  Mike was an active contributor to the growing field of cultural criminology for which his unique take on the nexus of youth culture and its criminalisation was a natural fit.  With an intensity honed as a Royal Marine and youth educator Mike’s writing was as vivid as it was penetrating.  As we remember Mike as an active contributor and advocate of critical criminology in all of its manifestations we are reminded to not only look for the subterranean forms of resistance and carnival in the environments that surround us but to actively engage with the fete of modern life for that is where this work of ours comes alive.

Reflections on the life and work of Mike Presdee, by Jock Young:

Sandro Baratta (1933–2002)

Reflections on the life and work of Alessandro (Sandro) Baratta