Criminology Faculty Research Projects

Criminology Faculty Research Projects

Elizabeth Comack

Research Themes:  Inequality and the Law; Justice, Safety and Security in Aboriginal and Inner-City Communities; Masculinity and Crime; Criminalized Women

Research Projects:
1. Justice, Safety, and Security: For the past ten years Elizabeth has been working with the Manitoba Research Alliance (MRA), a broad coalition of academics and community and government partners engaged in doing research with Aboriginal and inner-city communities in Manitoba.  The MRA’s current SSHRC-funded project is entitled “Partnering for Change: Community-Based Solutions for Aboriginal and Inner-city Poverty” ( The project is broken down into four streams: justice, safety, and security; housing and neighbourhood revitalization; education and skill- and capacity-building; and community economic development. Elizabeth is leading the justice, safety, and security stream. Within this stream she is involved in a number of studies, including:

“Women in Trouble Revisited”: Replicating a study she did two decades ago that formed the basis for her book, Women in Trouble (Fernwood 1996), Elizabeth has conducted interviews with 42 women at the Women’s Correctional Centre to investigate a series of questions pertaining to incarcerated women’s experiences of abuse, their law violations, and the resources available for women to resolve their troubles. A book based on this project, Coming Back to Jail: Women, trauma and criminalization, is slated for publication in Spring 2018.

Realizing the Good Life: Elizabeth and Larry Morrissette began meeting regularly with men who have been in trouble with the law in December 2014. Their aim is to follow the men on their journey as they endeavour to move forward in their lives, and to trace the successes and challenges they encounter along the way.

2. Student Resources: A third edition of Locating Law: Race/Class/Gender/Sexuality Connections (Fernwood Publishing) and a second edition of Criminalizing Women: Gender and (In)justice in Neoliberal Times (co-edited with Gillian Balfour) were published in 2014.

Rick Linden

Research Themes:  Policing; Crime Prevention; Crime Causation; Aboriginal Justice

Research Projects:

1.)  Vehicle Crime: From 2003 - 2016, Rick received funding from the AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence for his research on Antisocial Behaviour and the Automobile.  Along with co-researchers Bob Mann and Reg Mann of the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health this project conducted research on a number of topics, including road rage, dangerous driving, drugs and alcohol and driving, and auto theft.  Rick’s research has involved a study of reasons why young people steal cars; an evaluation of the successful Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy (WATSS); an evaluation of the electronic mobilizer program; and an evaluation of the electronic monitoring program for high-risk auto theft offenders.  His current projects deal with using analysis-based policing techniques to improve road safety.

2.)  Crime Reduction:  One of Rick’s major areas of interest is crime reduction.  He has helped to develop a comprehensive crime reduction strategy for Winnipeg involving a Smart Policing Initiative, a neighbourhood program based on integrated social services and community development initiatives.  Rick is currently working with M.A. student Ryan Catte on an evaluation of a Smart Policing Initiative program established in one of they city’s policing districts.

3.)   Student Resources:  Rick is preparing the 9th edition of his textbook Criminology: A Canadian Perspective and recently published the the 7th edition of Sociology in Our Times (co-authored with Jane Murray and Diana Kendall).

Jeremy Patzer

Research Themes: Aboriginal law, Indigenous peoples and the law, common law legal history, transitional justice and historical repair, sociology of law, contemporary theory.

Research Projects:

1. “Histories that Bind”: Jeremy’s dissertation, entitled “Histories that Bind: Doctrinal Productivity and Legal Governance in Canadian Aboriginal Law,” examines an historical body of law, from the nineteenth century up until today, which engages with, comments upon, and purports to resolve the controversies surrounding colonial dispossession and the removal of Indigenous sovereignty. It offers a sociological reading of Aboriginal case law which brings into relief a certain historical tendency: the juridical field finding itself in a legal-normative bind, the law’s quiet anxiety, and the creative doctrinal productivity that ensues. This doctrinal productivity makes use of injusticiability and incommensurability in order to offer a new reconciliatory justice in the wake of colonial dispossession, but also embeds in that jurisprudence mechanisms for managing, pacing, and limiting this change. Jeremy is currently engaged in the post-dissertation dissemination cycle; namely, the development of this research into several journal articles and a book project.

2. Upcoming Research: Jeremy has two lines of research planned for the near future. The first relates to his interest in post-atrocity practices of justice, as well as his emphasis on the shifting, indeterminate, and quietly governed nature of legal categorization and knowledge. The second concerns Indigenous people’s perceptions of their own Indigeneity and how they navigate these politicized complexities when the courts, governmental policy, media, and mainstream society all bring their own influence to bear on the issue as well.

Law and Historical Grievance: Part of the discursive domain of reconciliation in the 21st century stems from the attention paid to the successes and difficulties that Indigenous claimants have encountered in having the courts and the state recognize historical grievances (beyond colonial dispossession) as legally actionable wrongs. (The relegation of these issues to the juridical field is, of course, compelled precisely because of governmental inaction or intransigence.) Jeremy’s interest for an upcoming research project is in historical wrongs that have come into focus in recent history: residential schooling, day schooling, and the Sixties Scoop. The circumstances are complex in that the possible legal bases employed in the pursuit of repair implicate a complex interrelation of criminal law, civil law, as well as international treaties and covenants pertaining to civil and political rights, the rights of the child, or to genocide.

Indigeneities: The New Arena of Self-Determination and Colonization: In some of his writing Jeremy has expressed a concern that the judiciary’s current approach to determining Aboriginal rights based upon its own notions of Indigenous tradition and culture represents a further infiltration of legal-bureaucratic categorization and knowledge into the lives and self-perceptions of Indigenous peoples, and that it serves to erode Indigenous peoples’ agency and sense of self-assuredness in their own processes of debating and defining what it is to be, and what it means to be, Métis, First Nations, or Inuit. Indeed, Indigenous peoples are so strongly associated with cultural notions, it is arguable that they are not seen as having a culture—like other peoples—but rather are seen as being a culture. This is why in many Western societies Indigeneity has developed a problematic association with time and traditionality, one in which cultural change and adaptation are construed as cultural contamination and erosion. Jeremy therefore plans to develop a research project which can foster critical commentary on Indigenous subjectivities in the Canadian context; in particular, commentary that directly incorporates and gives expression to the perspectives and experiences of Indigenous claimants and communities whose lifeways, opportunities, and representations are overdetermined by non-Indigenous institutions. In effect, this phenomenon is so pervasive that it exists beyond the limits of the juridical field and is commonly encountered in the larger societal discourse. It is not only the courts that discursively impose limitations and expectations on the meaning and nature of Indigeneity, but also governments, media, and mainstream society. Such a project is therefore apt for collaboration.

Russell Smandych

Research Themes:  Canadian and comparative youth justice (legislative change, policy transfer); comparative common law legal history (19th century British colonial law; colonial policing in Australia and Canada; biography and legal history).

Research Projects:

1. Youth Justice. Russell has an avid ongoing interest in Canadian and comparative youth justice research, which most recently has led him to write several single and co-authored publications on youth criminal justice reform in Australia and Canada. These varied historical, contemporary Canadian and comparative studies include: work aimed at tracing historical and contemporary trends in Canadian youth justice; parental responsibility laws related to crime-involved youth in Australia and Canada; juvenile law reform in Queensland Australia and Canada; effects of the implementation of the Youth Criminal Justice Act on young offenders’ rights in Canada; and developments and issues surrounding the administration of youth justice in Manitoba since 2003 related to the implementation of the Youth Criminal Justice Act

2. Legal History. Russell has also been active in pursuing a range of law-related historical research projects over the course of his academic career. Over the past ten years this has led to his increased focus on comparative-historical and transcolonial research aimed at examining the processes by which Indigenous peoples were made subject to legal authority in nineteenth century settler colonial societies such as Canada and Australia, and the long-term consequences of these forms of colonial legal subjugation. To date, this ongoing research – funded through grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Australian Research Council – has led to number of single and co-authored publications on specific facets of this research, including studies of: settler revolutions and the dispossession of Indigenous peoples through law; policing Indigenous peoples on the colonial frontiers of Australia and western Canada; the role of the British Colonial Office in intervening in Australian colonial debates over the application of English criminal law to Aborigines; and the central role played by British colonial officials such as Sir James Stephen, Jr. in shaping nineteenth century British colonial law and policy respecting Indigenous peoples.  

Andrew Woolford

Research Themes: Criminological and Socio-Legal Theory; Genocide Studies; Indigenous/settler relations; Neoliberalism, Social Services and the Inner-city; Settler Colonial Studies.

Research Projects:

1) Andrew is the lead investigator on a nation-wide project titled “Embodying Empathy: Fostering Historical Knowledge and Caring through a Virtual Indian Residential School” that combines decolonizing methodologies and leading-edge technologies to design, build, and test a virtual residential school to assess its ability to foster historical understanding and empathy for residential school Survivors. 

2) Andrew and Bryan Hogeveen (U of Alberta) are completing a manuscript based on a SSHRC-sponsored study titled "Experiencing Neoliberalism in Two Prairie Cities." The book traces the effects of neoliberal policy shifts at the government level on people living in precarious or marginalized situations in the inner-city.

3) A Co-Investigator on a SSHRC-sponsored grant to the Manitoba Research Alliance, Andrew is also beginning investigations for a project titled “Remembering Assiniboia,” which is a Survivor-led project that will: a) plan a reunion for the Assiniboia residential school; b) work toward creation of a commemorative marker and interpretive display for the school; c) produce an edited volume and video to educate Canadians about this residential school; and d) create a digital map of the Assiniboia school site with multiple layers of information about Survivor experiences at the school.

4) Andrew is beginning work on a new project tentatively titled “Symbiotic destruction” that focuses on multi-group/multi-species destruction events whereby the threat to one group/species places another in jeopardy. This project aims to expand the narrow human-centric and monadic group lens of genocide studies to better comprehend networked and interlocking patterns of destruction.