An Eastern Kentucky University faculty member has earned a prestigious national honor in the field of critical criminology.
Dr. Victoria Collins, associate professor and graduate program coordinator in the School of Justice Studies at EKU, recently was named Critical Criminologist of the Year for 2019 by the American Society of Criminology’s Division on Critical Criminology and Social Justice.
Critical criminology, Collins explained, is “an umbrella term for a number of perspectives within the field of criminology that challenge larger structures of inequality that inform misunderstandings of behavior that has been deemed criminal, as well as the structures and mechanisms utilized to control these behaviors. It involves examining political, economic and social structures that oppress and uphold biases situated in race, class, gender and other defining characteristics.
“As a scholar and teacher, it is important to me to use my position of privilege to draw attention to, critically analyze and give voice to these inequalities,” Collins continued. “This is especially important as it relates to educating students, many of whom will pursue careers as criminal justice and social service providers with the ability to make life-changing differences to those they serve.”
Collins, who joined the EKU faculty in 2013, is the author of “State Crime, Women and Gender,” “an important contribution to the literature on state crime and crimes of the powerful, and critical criminology more broadly as it examines the role of state governments in the direct commission and indirect facilitation of violence against women. As a topic of study, prior to publication of my book in 2015, this had yet to be done in any in-depth and comprehensive way. By drawing attention to state complicity, this interrupts the tendency to pathologize and individualize the problem of violence against women, drawing attention to cultural, societal and structural factors that support and reaffirm the commission of such harm.”
She has since published two additional books. The first, titled “The Violence of Neoliberalism: Crime, Harm and Inequality,” with former EKU colleague Dr. Dawn Rothe, “draws on a range of contemporary topics such as sports and entertainment, self-defense, state violence, patriarchy and death, to examine the impact of neoliberalism on society, specifically the ways in which our everyday lives in the Global North reproduce and facilitate violence and harm.” The other is a co-edited volume titled “Explorations in Critical Criminology in Honor of William J. Chambliss.”
Collins grew up in Great Britain, where she received an LLB degree in English and European Constitutional Law before immigrating to the United States. She went on to earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at Old Dominion University, where she also taught for four years before arriving at EKU. In order to gain practical experience in the field of criminal justice, she also worked for a domestic violence agency in Virginia Beach, Virginia, as a victim advocate and police liaison.
As a recipient of the Critical Criminologist of the Year award, Collins follows past winners who “I not only respect greatly, but have influenced my work. I would like to thank all those who have taken the time to provide mentorship, support and encouragement, both at EKU and in my discipline. For those people who have and continue to inspire and influence me, I am very grateful.”