1st Edition

Criminalization of Activism
Historical, Present and Future Perspectives

Edited By

Valeria Vegh Weis

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after November 26, 2021
ISBN 9780367700119
November 26, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
272 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

USD $47.95

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Book Description

Criminalization of Activism draws on a multiplicity of perspectives and case studies from the Global South and Global North to show how protest has been subject to processes of criminalisation over time.

Contributors are made of up scholars and activist from different disciplinary backgrounds, with a balance between authors from the Global North and the Global South. An introduction frames the topic within critical criminology, while also highlighting the possible disciplinary approaches and definitions of criminalization of resistance/activism. The editors also look into the particularities of the current times in comparison to dynamics of criminalization in prior stages of capitalism.

The first part offers four different theoretical approaches to understand the complex interrelations between politics and criminalization of resistance. Second, the book offers case studies to expose certain historical patterns in the criminalization of riots, experiences of resistance and class struggle. This includes an analysis of the cast system in India, neoliberalism and social inequality in Argentina and refugees in Italy and Greece. The third part of the book deals with three further case studies which expose trends in the historical criminalization of policing and prison related struggles, analysing prison riots in the United States and Argentina, and the civil rights movement confronting police brutality in the United States. Part four provides insight into historical patterns in the criminalization of political activities, with case studies on Italian leftist activism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Catalonian struggle for independence. The last part of the book deals with the criminalization of green struggles, examining the green ban in Australia, indigenous struggles in Brazil and Ecuador and environmental demonstrations in Belgium. Finally, the conclusion analyses the interactions between the different contributions and discusses the future challenges to this field of study.

Bringing together a range of criminalisation themes into a single volume, compromising historical criminology, indigenous studies, gender studies, critical criminology, southern criminology, convict criminology and green criminology, it will be of great interest to scholars and students of criminology and sociology, as well as those involved in activism.

Table of Contents


Preface by Dario Melossi



1. Politics of Exception. Criminalizing Activism in Western European Democracies by Katharina Fritsch and Andrea Kretschmann.

2. A Social Control Perspective for the Study of Environmental Harm and Resistance by Alida Szalai

3. The Criminalization and ‘Innovation’ of Resistance. Looking at the Italian Case by Verónica Marchio


1. Avoiding and Amplifying the Criminal Label in The Roman Republic and Medieval England by Matt Clement

2. The Criminalization of Low-Rank Castes: A Historical Perspective of Mahad Movement in India (1927-1937) by Kruthi Jagadish Kumar, Praveenrao Bolli and Myrna Cintron

3. "Loyal Spear-Carriers": Police Violence in the Queensland Anti-Apartheid Movement, 1971 by Paul Bleakley

4. The Theorem of National Solidarity. Italy and the "7 Aprile" Case. The Criminalisation of Left-Wing Dissent by Vincenzo Scalia



1. Resistance to Survive: The Criminalization of the Black Lives Matter Movement by Teresa Francis Divine and Ginny Norris Blackson

2. Between Crime and War: The Security Model of Protest Policing by Paul A. Passavant


3. Fighting for the Right to Save Others: Responses by Civil Society to the Criminalisation of Solidarity in the Mediterranean Sea post-2015 by Christal Chapman ‘

4. Media Representation of Belgian Youth Protests: The Making of ‘Climate Truants’ by Mafalda Pardal, Celine Tack and Frédérique Bawin

5. Criminalization as Strategy of Power: The Case of Catalunya 2017-2020 by Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte


1. Protest and Punitive Treatment in Argentina: An Analysis from Latin American Critical Criminology by Gabriela L. Gusis and Rodrigo F. Videla

2. Colombia’s Murderous Democracy Pre- and Post-Covid-19: The Assassination of Social Leaders and the Criminalization of Protest by Natalia Ruiz Morato

3. Violence and Violations of Rights against Leaderships in the Brazilian Amazon by Paula Lacerda and Igor Rolemberg

4. An Analysis of the Criminalisation of Socio-Environmental Activism and Resistance in Contemporary Latin America by Israel Celi, Roxana Pessoa Cavalcanti and Grace Iara Souza

5. Notes from the Field: The judicial persecution in the Amazonian Indigenous Struggle- "El Baguazo" -Amazonas-Peru by Saúl Puerta Peña-Pueblo Awajun


1. Artificial Intelligence and the Criminalisation of Activism by Mark Cowling

2. Covid Cops: A Recent History of Pandemic Policing during the Coronavirus Crisis by Greg Martin

3. Punitive Feminism (or When and Why Did We Start Dividing the World between Good and Evil, rather than between Oppressed and Oppressors) by Tamar Pitch

4. Genocidal Activism and the Language of Criminality: Reflections on the Duality of the Nazi-Era and the Avoidance of Engagement with Histories of Social and Political Activism at the Nuremberg Trials by Wayne Morrison



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Valeria Vegh Weis is a Professor of Criminology at Buenos Aires University and Quilmes National University, Argentina. She is critical criminologist, criminal attorney, and university professor with expertise in criminal law, mental health law, and transitional justice. Valeria obtained her summa cum laude law degree from Buenos Aires University Law School, followed by post-graduate studies in Criminal Law at Buenos Aires University School of Law, as well as a master’s in international legal studies and PhD in Law at New York University. She has also been serving on the Argentinean Judiciary since 2005, and has been recently appointed as Associate Personnel at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In Addition, Valeria has been a Lecturer for the World Health Organization, a Visiting Professor at Strathmore University, a Post-Doctoral Visiting Researcher at Freie Universitat Berlin and a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History. She has published extensively in Spanish and English on criminal law, criminology, transitional justice and mental health law.


'...an outstanding example of the kind of insurgent scholarship we need in our troubled times. A breathtaking tour de force through the history, the present, and the futures of social movements on a global scale..'- Alessandro de Giorgi, Professor at the Department of Justice Studies, San José State University, Editor in Chief of Punishment & Society, Editorial Board Member of Social Justice

'..this volume forces us to question the fundamental legitimacy of political policing and the political economic arrangements they enable...'-Alex S. Vitale, Author of The End of Policing

'... this is a most opportune book. It must be read by all democrats because democracy is precisely what is at risk..'-Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Author of Toward a New Legal Common Sense

'...When this work is published I do not even know how the criminal proceedings initiated against me by prison unions will be found for my denunciation of torture in prisons in Catalonia. Criminalization increases in a similar proportion to the loss of rights and guarantees. But, for that reason, the (collective) struggle is more necessary than ever...' -Iñaki Rivera Beiras, Professor at the University of Barcelona, Director of the Observatory of the Penal System and Human Rights

'This is a fascinating collection that provides a great deal of valuable empirical information and rich theoretical insights about the ways in which protest and dissent can become criminalized...' -Pamela Oliver, Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin

'This is a much required work in contemporary times when neoliberal authoritarianism is involved in redefining the idea of 'democracy' itself...' -Ravi Kumar, Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, South Asian University

'It would be impossible to over-emphasize the temporal significance of this book... Valeria Vegh Weis has drawn together an exemplary collection of interdisciplinary scholar-activists focusing on such issues... the breadth and depth of this book is astounding.' -Victoria Canning, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at University of Bristol, Co-coordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, Associate Director of Oxford Border Criminologies 

'This book makes a significant contribution to debates in the arena of social movements... it draws attention to the need for perseverance over several generations to make people at large see the creative significance of saying ‘no’ as a mode of opening up diverse ways seeing and living in this world.' -Savyasaachi, Professor at the Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia