Elizabeth Comack

Elizabeth Comack  

 

Elizabeth Comack is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Manitoba, where she has held a tenured appointment since July of 1990. She previously taught in the Department of Sociology at the University of Winnipeg. Elizabeth holds a B.A. (Honours) degree from the University of Winnipeg (1974), an M.A. degree from Queen’s University (1976), and a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta (1984).

 

Teaching

My teaching goals and philosophy can be expressed in four separate yet interrelated goals:

  1. The sociological perspective: I encourage students to embrace what C. Wright Mills called ‘the sociological imagination.' This involves making connections between ‘private troubles' and ‘public issues' – between individuals' own experiences and circumstances and the wider social, political, and economic contexts in which they move.
  2. Analytical skills: I often tell students at our first meeting that my job is not to tell them ‘what they think they already know,' but rather to expose them to different ways of making sense of the world around them. Theory is an important ingredient in my courses, especially in terms of developing a critical analysis of pressing social issues.
  3. Social justice: The courses I teach are ones in which social justice issues are front and center. Students are encouraged to develop an awareness of those issues in terms of their historical underpinnings, current context, and future possibilities.
  4. Students as contributors: Because I have spent a good portion of my life studying and thinking about sociology, there is much that I am eager to share with my students. However, students have an important part to play in their own learning process. This means taking an active part in discussions and constructing their own analyses in written assignments.

Courses Taught

Sociology of Law (SOC 3700)

Women, Crime and Social Justice (SOC 3790 )

Critical Issues in Sociology (SOC 2010)

 

Research Interests

 

My research interests can be located within two areas: the sociology of law and feminist criminology. Over the past three decades I have written and researched on topics as diverse as: the origins of Canadian drug laws; the capital punishment debate; the legal recognition of the ‘Battered Woman Syndrome'; the abuse histories of women in prison; violence, inequality, and the law; safety and security issues in Winnipeg's inner-city communities; masculinity, violence, and prisoning; racialized policing; and Aboriginal street gangs.  

 

My current research projects stem from my involvement in the Manitoba Research Alliance, a closely-knit group of academic researchers and community and government partners with extensive networks for research, community development and policy-related activities (see: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/projects/manitoba-research-alliance/about ). In 2012 the MRA was awarded a SSHRC Partnership grant for a project entitled “Partnering for Change: Community-Based Solutions for Aboriginal and Inner-City Poverty” (John Loxley is the Principal Investigator). The project is broken down into four research streams: justice, safety, and security; housing and neighbourhood revitalization; capacity building, education, and employment; and community economic development. (I am the team leader for the justice, safety, and security stream.) We are engaged in a host of studies within each of these streams. For example, one of my current projects, entitled “Pathways out of Crime and Violence,” is a longitudinal study begun in 2014 with men who have been gang-involved and/or criminalized and the barriers and challenges they encounter as they endeavour to move forward in their lives.

 

Selected Academic Publications

Books:

 

Comack, E. (2018). Coming Back to Jail: Women, Trauma, and Criminalization. Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing. https://fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/coming-back-to-jail

 

G. Balfour and E. Comack (editors). 2014. Criminalizing Women: Gender and (In)Justice in Neo-Liberal Times. (2nd edition). Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing.

http://fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/criminalizing-women1

 

E. Comack (editor). 2014. Locating Law: Race/Class/Gender/Sexuality Connections (3rd edition). Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing. http://fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/locating-law

 

E. Comack, L. Deane, L. Morrissette, and J. Silver. 2013. “Indians Wear Red”: Colonialism, Resistance, and Aboriginal Street Gangs. Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing [Recipient of the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction, Manitoba Book Awards, 2013]. http://fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/indians-wear-red

 

E. Comack. 2012. Racialized Policing: Aboriginal People’s Encounters with the Police. (Foreword by Donald E. Worme, Q.C.) Winnipeg and Halifax: Fernwood Publishing. http://fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/racialized-policing

 

E. Comack. 2008. Out There/In Here: Masculinity, Violence, and Prisoning. Winnipeg and Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.

http://fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/out-there-in-here

E. Comack and G. Balfour. 2004. The Power to Criminalize: Violence, Inequality, and the Law. Winnipeg and Halifax: Fernwood Publishing. http://fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/the-power-to-criminalize

Journal Articles:

Comack, E. 2018. “Corporate Colonialism and the ‘Crimes of the Powerful’ Committed against the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.” Critical Criminology 26, 4: 455-471.

 

Shum, M., E. Comack, T. Stuart, R. Ayre, S. Perron, R. Taki, and T. Kosatsky. 2012. “Bed Bugs and Public Health: New Approaches for an Old ScourgeCanadian Journal of Public Health 103 (6): 399-403.

 

Comack, E. and E. Bowness. 2010. “Dealing the Race Card: Public Discourse on the Policing of Winnipeg’s Inner-city Communities.” Canadian Journal of Urban Research vol. 19 no. 1: 34-50.

 

Comack, E. and M. Seshia. 2010. “Bad Dates and Street Hassles: Violence in the Winnipeg Street Sex Trade” Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice 52 (2): 219-30.

 

Comack, E. and J. Silver. 2008. “A Canadian Exception to the Punitive Turn? Community Responses to Policing Practices in Winnipeg’s Inner City.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 33 (4): 815-844.

Comack, E. and S. Brickey. 2007. “Constituting the Violence of Criminalized Women.” Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice 49 (1): 1-36.

Comack, E. and T. Peter. 2005. “How the Criminal Justice System Responds to Sexual Assault Survivors: The Slippage Between Responsibilization and Blaming the Victim.” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 17 (2): 283-309.

Book Chapters:

Comack, E., L. Deane, L. Morrissette, and J. Silver. 2018. “The Street Gangs in Prison: ‘It’s Just a Revolving Door.’ In T. das Gupta, C. E. James, C. Andersen, G.-E. Galabuzi, and R.C.A. Maaka (Eds.), Race and Racialization: Essential Readings (2nd edition). Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.

 

Bowness, E. and E. Comack. 2016. “Crime and Punishment: The more things change …” In C. Gonick (Ed.), Canada Since 1960: A People’s History: A Left Perspective on 50 Years of Politics, Economics and Culture. Toronto: James Lorimer.

 

Lyons, J., and E. Comack. 2015. “Biting Back: Addressing the Problem of Bed Bugs in Low-income Housing.” In J. Brandon and J. Silver (eds.), Poor Housing: A Silent Crisis. Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, pages 64-79.

 

Comack, E., L. Deane, L. Morrissette, and J. Silver. 2015. “‘You Really Have to Look at Poverty’: Colonialism, Resistance, and Aboriginal Street Gangs.” In C. Brooks and B. Schissel (Eds.), Marginality and Condemnation: An Introduction to Criminology (3rd edition). Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, pages 224-46.

 

Comack, E. 2015. “The Sex Question in Criminology” (revised). In C. Brooks and B. Schissel (eds.), Marginality and Condemnation: An Introduction to Criminology (3rd edition). Winnipeg and Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, pages 94-114.

 

Comack, E. 2015. “Feminism and Criminology.” (revised) In R. Linden (General Editor), Criminology: A Canadian Perspective (8th edition). Toronto: Nelson, pages 155-86.

 

Comack, E. 2014. “Colonialism Past and Present: Indigenous Human Rights and Canadian Policing.” In J. Green (ed.), Indivisible: Indigenous Human Rights. Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, pages 60-81.

 

Comack, E. 2011. “Bringing Criminalized Women into View.” In L. Biggs and S. Gingell (Eds.) Gendered Intersections: An Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies (2nd ed.). Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, pages 467-71.

 

Comack, E. 2011. “Producing Feminist Knowledge: Lessons from Women in Trouble.” In Meda Chesney-Lind and Merry Morash (Eds.), Feminist Theories of Crime. London: Ashgate, 2011.

Comack, E., V. Chopyk and L. Wood. 2008. “Aren't Women Violent, Too?  The Gendered Nature of Violence.” In B. Schissell and C. Brooks (Eds.), Marginality and Condemnation: An Introduction to Criminology (second edition). Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, pages 330-49.

Comack, E. 2006. “Coping, Resisting, and Surviving: Connecting Women's Law Violations to Their Histories of Abuse.” In L. Alarid and P. Cromwell (eds.), In Her Own Words: Women Offenders' Views on Crime and Victimization. Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing, pages 33-43.

Research Reports:

Comack, E., C. Fabre, and S. Burgher. 2015. “The Impact of the Harper Government’s ‘Tough on Crime’ Strategy: Hearing from Frontline Workers.” Winnipeg: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–Manitoba. Available at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/manitoba

 

Comack, E. and J. Lyons. 2011. “What Happens When the Bed Bugs Do Bite? The Social Impacts of a Bed Bug Infestation on Winnipeg’s Inner-City Residents.” Winnipeg: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–Manitoba. Available at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/manitoba

Curran, A., E. Bowness, and E. Comack. 2010. “Meeting the Needs of Youth: Perspectives from Youth-Serving Agencies.” Winnipeg: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–Manitoba. Available at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/manitoba

Comack, E. and J. Silver. 2006. Safety and Security in Winnipeg's Inner-City Communities:  Bridging the Community-Police Divide. Winnipeg: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Manitoba).  Available at: http://policyalternatives.ca/index.cfm?act=main&call=DA794529

Policy Papers:

 

Comack, E., L. Deane, L. Morrissette, and J. Silver. 2009. “If You Want to Change Violence in the ‘Hood You Have to Change the ‘Hood: Violence and Street Gangs in Winnipeg’s Inner City. A Report Presented to Honourable Dave Chomiak, Manitoba Minister of Justice and Attorney General, September 10.” Winnipeg: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–Manitoba. Available at: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/manitoba

 

Lafreniere, C., N. Fontaine and E. Comack. 2005. “The Challenge for Change: Realizing the Legacy of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry Report” A position paper presented to the Provincially Appointed Committee for Consultation on a New Women’s Correctional Facility in Manitoba. Winnipeg: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Manitoba). Available at:  http://www.policyalternatives.ca/offices/manitoba

 

Legal Briefs:

 

Comack, E. 2016. “Why Systemic Racism is a Relevant Consideration in the Inquest into the Police Shooting Death of Craig Vincent McDougall.” Research report prepared at the request of the McDougall family lawyer and submitted to the Inquest judge (53 pp.).

 

Selected Publications in the Popular Media

 

E. Comack. 2018. “Pain Ingrained for Women in Manitoba Jails.” Winnipeg Free Press. June 4.

 

E. Comack. 2015. “Independent Counsel Limited in Inquiries.” Winnipeg Free Press. November 2, A9.

 

E. Comack. 2015. “‘Tough on Crime’ Tories Fill Jails, Create Dangerous Situations.” Winnipeg Free Press. September 30, A7.

 

E. Comack, L. Deane, L. Morrissette, and J. Silver. 2013. “Rage and the Rise of Street Gangs” Winnipeg Free Press September 25, A11.

 

E. Comack. 2012. “Reproducing Order: The Policing of Aboriginal Peoples.” Canadian Dimension 46 (3) (May/June): 20-21.

 

E. Comack and J. Lyons. 2011. “Bed Bugs: A Public Health Problem?” The Purple Paper. Issue 27 (May), 7 pp. Winnipeg: National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases. Available at: http://www.nccid.ca/files/Purple_Paper_27.pdf

 

E. Comack, L. Deane, L. Morrissette, and J. Silver. 2011. “Reverse the Cuts to Anti-Gang Programs.” Fast Facts, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (Manitoba), February 8th.

 

E. Comack and J. Lyons. 2010. “Winnipeg Needs a Bed Bug Strategy.” Winnipeg Free Press September 9, A10.

 

E. Comack, L. Deane, L. Morrissette, and J. Silver. 2010. “If You Want to Change Violence in the ‘Hood You Have to Change the ‘Hood: Violence and Street Gangs in Winnipeg’s Inner City.” Canadian Dimension. 42(2) (March-April): 19-24.

 

E. Comack, L. Deane, L. Morrissette, and J. Silver. 2009. “Change the ‘Hood.” Winnipeg Free Press September 11, A13.

 

E. Comack. 2008. “Racialized Policing: Racial context of Dumas shooting must be acknowledged.” Winnipeg Free Press December 17, A15

 

(revised February, 2019)