• Agnotology and the Criminological Imagination

      White, Holly; Barton, Alana; Davis, Howard; University of Chester; Edge Hill University (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-11-08)
      In this chapter we reflect upon the concept of ‘agnotology’ and its usefulness for the expansion of a zemiological criminology. Initially presented as an analytical tool in the fields of science and medicine, agnotology explores the social and political underpinnings of forms of ignorance and their role in both generating and securing acquiescence in mass harms and crimes of the powerful. Typically originating within state-corporate symbioses of ideology, policy and practice, ‘crimes of the powerful’ include harms inflicted through health and safety violations, ‘security’, criminal justice, social and economic policies, war, disaster and environmental destruction. In each case real harms are obscured, denied or otherwise neutralised. Two cases of mass harm are presented here as examples. First, we discuss corporate constructed agnosis over the use of asbestos that has allowed corporations to kill hundreds of thousands yet avoid criminal justice. Second, we reflect on the Holocaust and the role of agnosis in this most extreme form of state-generated harm. Despite its scale, and in contrast with the attention from other disciplines, criminology has remained remarkably taciturn about this crime. We conclude that the central zemiological purpose of an imaginative criminology—the understanding of and struggle against major harm—cannot be undertaken without systematic and rigorous attention to ignorance.
    • For a Zemiology of Politics

      Davis, Howard; White, Holly; University of Chester; Edge Hill University (Sage Publications, 2022-09-09)
      A zemiology of politics is required in the face of disastrous historic, contemporary and future social harms. Focusing on state-led politics, the article charts some politically generated or mediated social harms: military; ecological and economic. These can generate justificatory narratives of zemiogenic deceit and ignorance. In a contemporary political moment of authoritarian populism, nativism and racism, each feature as part of wider processes towards the corruption and destruction of politics. The article then suggests some of the potentials of healthy politics and fundamental principles for a zemiology of politics including: subordination of crime-centric criminology to a historically grounded international zemiology, the incorporation of agnotological perspectives, and an orientation that is public, inclusive, reflexive and non-fundamentalist.