Historical Criminology: Australian and New Zealand Perspectives


The time has never been more appropriate than now for a discussion about the integration of history and criminology in Australia and New Zealand. Throughout 2020 and 2021, the people of both countries were subject to extraordinary government interventions into their daily lives to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Given a respiratory pandemic of the same scale had not occurred for 100 years, we watched in real time as policymakers fumbled for guidance for the benefits and likely social consequences of imposing police-enforced legal restrictions on otherwise normal behaviours like freedom of movement and gathering with friends. Whether these were ultimately the correct decisions for controlling the disease is perhaps a question for others. Indeed, analysis of the interactions between the public and the state have always been the purview of criminologists and historians, yet we ceded this ground to epidemiologists who have little expertise in key issues of criminalisation and offending, or justice and policing, which are central to any system of state control.

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Published: 2023-03-01
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How to Cite
Nagy, V. and Kehoe, T. (2023) “Historical Criminology: Australian and New Zealand Perspectives ”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 12(1). doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2777.

Author Biographies

University of Tasmania

Vicky Nagy is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Tasmania. Prior to joining UTAS she was a Lecturer in Criminology at Deakin University, and has also taught at RMIT University in Melbourne and Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest. Her research interests are predominantly linked to history and crime, specifically women’s offending, changing penal practices, as well as criminology teaching pedagogy, and academic misconduct from a criminological perspective. Vicky’s first book, Nineteenth-Century Female Poisoners Three English Women Who Used Arsenic to Kill, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015. Her research has appeared in various journals including European Journal of Criminology, Crime, Law and Social Change, Journal of Interdisciplinary History \and Women & Criminal Justice.

The University of Melbourne

Dr Thomas Kehoe is historian and head of the heritage project at Cancer Council Victoria and honorary research fellow in history at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on the intersections of governance, policing, and public health, and he has published on these topics in relation to Australia, Europe, and the US.