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[ACS2020] Tales from the Field: An Invitation to Criminological Research in Asia

A Pre-Event for the Asian Criminological Society’s 12th Annual Conference

Between 18-21 June, 2021, the 12th Annual Conference of the Asian Criminological Society (ACS) will be held at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan. In working towards this year’s conference, a ‘pre-event’ was held on 3rd February entitled Tales from the Field: An Invitation to Criminological Research in Asia.

The event was primarily oriented towards foreign researchers who are doing, or planning to do, criminological research in an Asian context. For such researchers, there are a number of significant challenges in ‘getting in’, ‘getting on’ and ‘getting out’ of the field. Chaired by Associate Professor Mai Sato (Monash University), who will be one of the plenary speakers at this year’s ACS Conference, and attended by 49 participants, this pre-event explored these themes with four panelists from postdoctoral to professorial levels who collectively have a wealth of experience in conducting research in Asian countries:

  • Dr. Sally Atkinson-Sheppard (University of Westminster), who has conducted research on youth and organized crime in Bangladesh and China;  
  • Dr. Katie Lowe (University of Hong Kong), whose research focuses on cocaine use and supply in Hong Kong;
  • Dr. Emiline Smith (University of Glasgow), who has examined the trafficking of cultural and natural resources in Hong Kong, Myanmar, Nepal, and Indonesia;
  • Prof. Alison Young (University of Melbourne), who has been researching street art, juvenile justice and community policing in Japan.

The event provided a powerful reminder of the value of coming together and sharing our research experiences and began by exploring a number of interesting aspects relating to entering and navigating the research field, such as: the circumstances and decisions surrounding the choices of research site, scope of research, and methodological approaches; the importance of identifying and forming networks, research teams, collaborators and gatekeepers; the difficulties of language barriers and the role of interpreters as co-producers of research; the advantages and disadvantages of ‘blending in’ or ‘sticking out’ particularly in respect of age, ethnicity and gender; as well as in situ ethical challenges.

The discussion also extended to the current impact of COVID-19, both in terms of its opportunities for novel research projects and the unique risks that this presents for researchers, as well as its clear disruptions to undertaking overseas research. In addition to premature departures from the research field owing to COVID-19 restrictions, the discussion surrounding decisions to leave the research field also touched upon important points such as time constraints and data saturation.

Additionally, panelists also critically reflected on writing and publication strategies and the importance of giving back to researched communities. This tied into issues surrounding the identity of being a foreign researcher, particularly as one from a privileged Western background, the need for researcher ‘authenticity’, as well as the importance of advancing a ‘decolonizing criminology’.

Panelists also discussed the role and value of international conferences, noting their pivotal role in facilitating and strengthening research connections as well as their value – especially for early career scholars – for disseminating early findings and receiving feedback which is critical for developing confidence in writing. In considering the digitalization of international conferences during the COVID epidemic, the move towards online conferences was also praised in terms of providing accessibility for previously marginalized voices, facilitating greater interconnectivity, along with being more economically friendly than traditional conference styles.

Finally, Prof. Miyazawa, the President of the ACS, offered some concluding remarks about the themes raised in the event and extended an invitation to participate in this year’s ‘hybrid’ conference which will contain both online and in-person elements.

We would like to sincerely thank Associate Professor Sato, Dr. Atkinson-Sheppard, Dr. Lowe, Dr. Smith, and Professor Young for their excellent contributions, along with all the participants for taking part, and we hope you are able to join us for the 12th Annual Conference of the Asian Criminological Society in June. Registration and abstract submissions are currently being accepted, and the respective deadlines for these are:

- March 15: Abstract Submission Deadline
- April 10: Early-bird Registration Deadline
- May 14: General Registration Deadline

For more details about the conference and submission procedures, please visit the official website by clicking on the button below.