Public Criminology in the Cold City:
Engagement and Possibility

Andrew Woolford and Bryan Hogeveen


This paper, an exercise in autoethnography, examines how our public criminological engagement with inner city criminal justice agencies influenced our conceptualization of the “Cold City”—a term we use to describe the shifting conditions of care in urban environments whereby one is compelled to feel less responsible for the concrete (as opposed to abstract and generalized) lives of others. In particular, we explore the frustrations of public criminology, as efforts to envision justice anew and facilitate care come up against the structural limitations of the bureaucratic field in its contemporary neoliberal guise. In such circumstances, critical scholarship offers an outlet for contending with these frustrations, but also a means for imagining novel justice possibilities and revised forms of public criminological engagement.


Critical criminology, as we have conceptualized it, is a process of opening up new spaces of possibility (Hogeveen and Woolford 2006; see also Pavlich 2001). The critical criminologist, armed with the tools of critique, sets herself against an already fabricated world of crime and crime policy bound by specific (and quite arbitrary) ontologies of harm and justice. Critique is our means to trouble these boundaries and to push toward new justice horizons not strictly beholden to the architecture of a conventional criminology that for too long has been servant to the state (Pavlich 2005).

Described here all too briefly, critique can offer the critical criminologist a feeling of the promise of potential emancipation (Hogeveen 2011). Critical criminology originates in the truth that the most marginalized are thrown into a world that is discriminatory, classist, racist, and sexist. It is not one of their choosing. Instead, powerful interests and state actors structure societal institutions (i.e. economics, education and criminal justice) to their financial, political and economic benefit, while at the same time entrenching marginalized others in tragically disadvantaged social circumstances. For instance, Canada’s Indigenous peoples today experience the effects of centuries long colonization efforts by the Canadian state (Monture and Turpel 1992, Razack 2002. Despite Canada’s reputation on the world stage as a humane and livable country, Indigenous peoples across this country face poverty, suicide and incarceration rates that indecently exceed those of the remainder of the country (Office of the Correctional Investigator 2002, Martel, Brassard and Jacoud 2011, Martel and Brassard 2006.

Critical criminology stands shoulder to shoulder with its radical criminology cousin in recognizing such gross injustices brought about by the capitalist and colonialist state and, more importantly, its dedication to bringing about meaningful changes that will lead to a more just, hospitable, caring and inclusive world for all—not just those who just happen to be born into affluence (Shantz 2012). It does not seek to render the criminal justice state more efficient, but takes it to task for its unwarranted buoying of the capitalist state, for its advancement of the colonialist programme, and for aggregating increasing levels of pain onto Canada’s most marginalized. We are not content solely with unmasking systemic conditions of disadvantage. We are vexed by the world so often taken-for-granted and encourage other ways of being with others that push current ways of being in the world. Critical scholars grapple ‘with the challenges and contradictions involved in making ameliorative changes in our social world that offer hope instead of despair, compassion instead of intolerance, and justice instead of marginalization, exclusion, and suffering’ (Minaker and Hogeveen, 2009: xiii). At its core it is an art of critique that attempts to unsettle and challenge contemporary colonial and capitalist relations in the name of justice to come.

But how can one translate critique into something that is public? How might one carry this spark from the world of ideas into the world of everyday criminal justice practices? Quite often, our notion of what it means to ‘do’ public criminology is shaped by the expectation that the criminologist will participate in acts of public-, and most typically media-, based messaging through which the criminologist will work to shift public debates on issues of crime and punishment (see, for example, Piché 2014). However, there are other avenues for public criminological immersion and engagement, including working within and learning from those marginalized sectors of the criminal justice system—criminal justice non-profit social service agencies.

Upon beginning our academic careers, and while contributing to a collective attempt to revive critical criminology in Canada, the authors also sought to increase their social justice commitments through such direct involvement. Both had prior experiences with volunteer work in the areas of youth justice (Hogeveen) and human rights (Woolford), but in new cities, and with new professional clout, the hope was that more could be achieved.

What follows is a co-autoethnography of our experiences of public criminological involvement and its formative role in shaping our work on the “Cold City.” This is a term that we use to describe the shifting conditions of care in urban environments whereby one is compelled to feel less responsible for the concrete (as opposed to abstract and generalized) lives of others. Autoethnography refers to “an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)” (Ellis et al. 2011, 1). It is an appropriate methodology here because it demands that the researcher reflexively engage with his or her experiences, feelings, and emotions relating to a specific cultural and temporal context. In this manner, it is a methodology directed toward interrogating the nexus between researcher and researched, treating the assumptions and preferences of the former as constitutive components of the latter. Through the combined tools of ethnographic fieldwork and autobiographical writing, the goal of autoethnography is to open up new vistas of understanding and new possibilities for social justice. It also demands closeness to one’s research and is therefore potentially resistant to the distancing effects of the neoliberalized Cold City.

We begin our paper with a description of the Cold City and then move into a discussion of how our ameliorative efforts were obfuscated by the harsh economic, social and political ethos of the contemporary non-profit criminal justice field. Despite presenting a rather dim view of straightforward confrontation of oppression in this sphere, we nevertheless remain convinced that critical public criminology is a fundamental instrument in the struggle for justice. We conclude that it proffers a point from which to imagine more just ways of being with the marginalized other who has been excluded from meaningful participation and acceptance in the world that surrounds them. It remains to the critical criminologist to conceive of more emancipatory ways of being with the oppressed and othered who have remained in the cold.

Being Public in the Cold City

In his examination of individuals who participate in scrounging, Thaddeus Müller (2012, 447) conceptualizes the “Warm City” as “a social environment that consists of civility, cooperation and community among strangers”. The warm city is thus a space of sociability and care. In contrast, our research has focused on the Cold City, which severs this relationality, or instrumentalizes these relations as a means to advance neoliberal ends. Indeed, it is under the chill of neoliberalism that we see the Cold City tightening its icy grasp on the social service agencies that are assigned the role of providing care on our behalf. The section that follows offers a brief overview of conceptualization of the Cold City and the challenges of being ‘public’ in such a space (see also Hogeveen and Friedstadt 2013; Hogeveen and Woolford forthcoming; Woolford and Curran 2011 and 2013; Woolford and Nelund 2013).

With the acknowledgment that “actually-existing neoliberalism” takes specific shape as it adapts to local contexts (Brenner and Theodore 2002 and 2005; Hartmann 2005; Ong 2006), we understand neoliberalism in general as a regulatory framework for capital globalization. It is bolstered by discourses that demand that workforces become more flexible and adaptable to the needs of mobile capital, that citizens become more responsible, and that governments reduce their interference in the corporate pursuit of profit (Rose-Redwood 2006; Peck and Tickell 2007). However, alongside the “roll-back” of various social security protections, neoliberalism also entails a “roll-out” of redirected governmental controls (Chunn and Gavigan 2004; Holm 2006; Peck and Tickell 2007; Wacquant 2009b; Yesil 2006). At the local level, this “roll-out” produces a layered and complex neoliberal regulatory regime, which includes interventions such as: zero tolerance policing strategies; increased private security and surveillance; the promotion of target-hardening and risk prevention; citizen responsibilization toward entrepreneurialism and self-governance; zoning decisions and urban planning directed toward the isolation of “disordered” spaces; and, the deployment of remaining social service agencies to calculate, audit, and monitor so-called risky populations (Carroll and Shaw 2001; Glasbeek 2006; Peck 2001). Further, and to contain the fallout from neoliberal restructuring, the global prison industrial complex tends to expand under neoliberalism at exceptional rates (Wacquant 2009a).

It is in these circumstances that the conditions of care—the social circumstances that enable us to feel connection to and responsibility for others—are changing and shifting toward new strategies for controlling the poor that offer fewer opportunities for an ethic of care. In our work on the Cold City we show that it is too often the case that the help on offer in the inner city seeks to make those in need more manageable, out of view, responsible for themselves, and therefore less of a burden on our budgets and our consciences (Hogeveen and Friedstadt 2013; Hogeveen and Woolford forthcoming; Woolford and Curran 2011 and 2013; Woolford and Nelund 2013). In short, neoliberal policy and program shifts have generated a relational freeze through the imposition of compulsory managerial tasks that mediate relationships between social service providers and users in the inner city. Under these conditions, the managerial task, whether it is quantifying outcome measures, hustling to ensure economic viability, evaluating levels of risk, or establishing ‘best practices’, becomes the ethical focus of the modern day social service practitioner rather than the person in need (see also Brodwin 2013). And, in response, the person requesting help is required to bundle him or herself in a performance of responsibility so that they are deemed worthy of care. In other words, a person in need of help must show himself or herself to be worthy of care by embracing the language of self-improvement and responsibility that corresponds with the intended outcomes promised by specific social service agencies (Woolford and Nelund 2013).

Marginalized inner city populations are thus defined by governments, policy makers and social service agency as either “transformative risk subjects” who are to embody and accept a particular form of neoliberal self-care, or as dangerous outsiders who must be removed from social space (Hannah Moffat 2005). Our research in the Cold City has turned up many examples of how the marginalized are responsiblized by social service providers and removed from spaces of capitalist accumulation. Indigenous peoples are frequently transported from high traffic consumer space by state policing agents and/or private security. Edmonton’s homeless, for example, repeatedly report being chased from shopping malls and public libraries when attempting to stave-off frostbite and otherwise find relief from the bitter cold. Others, like Jim, who seem “out of place” on account of his Indigenous heritage and homeless countenance face frequent police harassment. While sitting on a bench waiting for a bus an officer approached and questioned him for no apparent reason. The officer asked his name and when Jim refused he refused to allow him to proceed until he was more forthcoming. When he finally acquiesced the officer found that he had several outstanding warrants and arrested him on the spot. That Jim appeared out of place and thus dangerous was the officer’s only justification for his intervention.

Contemporary social service agencies operate within a nonprofit market in which they must compete for government and private funding. They insure continued viability by presenting outcome measures as proof to these funders that their services are in fact making a difference. Indeed, such agencies are increasingly compelled to embrace organizational practices more typical of private businesses than voluntary agencies, thereby reshaping their practices. Raising operating dollars is an ongoing and omnipotent function of the contemporary social service ethos and several agencies are hiring experts in capital accumulation. Whereas in the not so distant past such groups would be primarily concerned with acquiring those accomplished in the art of working with marginalized groups, they are now seeking those proficient in fund raising. One particular social service provider in Edmonton, for example, has an entire floor of their building dedicated to fund raising and another has hired several graduates who boast MBAs from Canada’s top universities. According to Jamie this is all brought about by the contemporary competitive funding climate that he metaphorically described as a “shark tank” for its resemblance to the television program where prospective entrepreneurs compete for financial backing from wealthy funders.

The world of those who care on our behalf has always been limited by concerns beyond what will best serve those who are in need. Some would argue that a “voluntary spirit” once animated the activities of those working in the nonprofit sector before the onset of business practices (Bush 1992), but we do not agree that an era ever existed in which social service agencies did not to some degree assist the state in practices of social control (see Cohen 1985). However, the contemporary nonprofit worker finds even less time for care than was true of the welfare era, as he or she is now encouraged to emulate the entrepreneurial, managerial and competitive practices idealized in the private world of business (Baines 2004 and 2010; Evans et al. 2005; Salamaon 1993). And these emerging practices have negative implications for the ways in which care is distributed. Under neoliberalism care has become individualized. We are obligated to care for ourselves and to care for our immediate family members, but the reach of our caring does not extend much further. Moreover, under this politics of care, social service agencies, rather than care on our behalf, or through our voluntary assistance, are reconceptualized as organizations directed toward facilitating self- and family-care, so that the poor and needy, like us, can take care of themselves and their families. Lost in such a reconceptualization is an ethic of care guided by social connections beyond the family unit. Care has become immediate and narrowly local, rather than formed through mutual, open and trusting relationships with others based upon a broader shared humanity, society or environment.

To engage in public criminology in the social service field is to immerse oneself in these cold waters. In these circumstances, Amanda Nelund’s (this issue) critique of the overlap between public criminology and the masculinist public sphere rings most true. The Cold City is not simply neoliberal, but also draws us toward being public in a manner that privileges the reason of the male, liberal, Euro-Canadian economic subject and subjugates the concrete experiences, needs, desires, and rationality of those who are requesting help in favour of securing scarce resources (Benhabib 1985 and 1992; Fraser 1985). Rather than propelling one into relations of care, the Cold City pushes the public criminologist towards being a frugal dispenser of care, whose ultimate aim is to make care an individual rather than relational property.

We arrived at this notion of the Cold City not simply through research and theoretical reflection, but also by engaging in public criminological work at inner-city justice agencies. Our experiences drew our attention to frigid conditions of care that characterize the contemporary Cold City.

Winnipeg Justice Services:
EDs and Organizational Crises (Andrew)

Soon after moving to Winnipeg I was approached by two academic colleagues who recommended that I join the board of directors of a Winnipeg-based criminal justice non-profit social service agency, which I will refer to pseudonymously as Winnipeg Justice Services (WJS). They suggested it would be an opportunity for me to learn more about local criminal justice issues, and that the Winnipeg Agency was working to recreate itself as a restorative justice organization, which would fit my research interests. Although I had served as a board member for my local Amnesty International chapter, I felt absolutely unqualified, since most of my social justice engagements to this point had been of a more activist than organizational nature. Nonetheless, my colleagues were correct that it would be an education. For the first few years, I muddled through budgets and funding agreements, feeling only ever truly at home on the “issues committee,” where we would discuss local criminal justice concerns and how we might improve our advocacy. Although this committee is of some relevance to the discussion of public criminology, this is not the epiphanic moment that is at the heart of my portion of this autoethnography. This moment would instead come when I found myself president of the board of directors just as a series of crises emerged.

After our longtime executive director (ED) retired, the board hired a less experienced ED to take his place. She struggled in this position for a short period before pursuing another employment opportunity. In fact, I had been president of the board for only two weeks when this ED gave me her two weeks notice. At the time, we were in an elevator on the way up to meet with the Assistant Deputy Minister of Corrections with the province of Manitoba. This obviously did not place me on very solid footing for my first meeting with our primary funder. Matters took a turn for the worse when the Assistant Deputy Minister and the Executive Director of Adult Custody asked to speak with me in private. I was seated at a table with the sun glaring directly in my eyes, as though I was under the lights for interrogation. The two large men then proceeded to threaten to withdraw all funding if they did not soon receive the sense that the province was getting “bang for its buck”. Their complaint was that, as far as they could tell, the WJS had not been delivering sufficient services to their clients in correctional institutions, and they wanted to know what I was going to do about it.

Around the same time, a Federal funder contacted our office to let us know that they were auditing one of our projects because we had failed to deliver what we had promised. This was a project that had been under the direction of the previous ED and its mismanagement had been hidden from the board and her staff. Adding to the crisis, I was next contacted by the United Way, our second largest funder, and the only funder that provided us with general rather than program-specific funding, allowing us to maintain our office. They too expressed their concerns that programming was not being adequately delivered by WJS.

Under these circumstances, I felt it necessary to enlist the very language and practices I had been critically examining in my work on inner city social services. My first step was to hire an experienced retired executive director from a well-regarded social service agency to serve as our temporary ED, because the board and I did not want to once again rush our hiring process. I then assigned a competent staff member to focus on completion of the unfinished project for the federal funding for which we were to be audited. The board also initiated a hiring search through which we targeted experienced EDs. Finally, I organized a meeting with our two main funders, the province of Manitoba and the United Way, at which they were presented a five-year plan that was filled with the business-like language of the new public management: e.g., accountability, deliverables, measurable outcomes, best practices, and evidence-based programming. I learned to speak their language so that there would be no confusion about my ability to right the ship and to remake the agency into a valued “partner”.

Once the crisis was averted, and our funding secured, we hired an ED with a great deal of experience, as well as a strong social justice commitment. With him at the helm, we were better able to walk in two worlds, meeting the demands of our funders while recommitting to advocacy on behalf of prisoners. But the concessions we were forced to make always seemed to be changing us, slowly reforming our practices, more than we ever changed the criminal justice system.

Although perhaps more dramatic, this is a familiar story of organizational crisis whereby agency survival eclipses all other goals. Indeed, within the neoliberal Cold City, non-profit social service providers experience a permanent state of crisis through which, at least on the surface, they are disciplined to embrace the language and logic of new public management, performing care for their ‘clients’ in a manner that meets the expectations of funders. In times of permanent cost-cutting and heightened funder oversight, social service providers’ efforts at fostering hospitality with those who come through their doors are delimited by the extent to which these service users can be categorized, counted, and conditioned through the accountable and measureable programs of a neoliberalized social service agency.

Edmonton Justice Services:
Governing Through Silence (Bryan)

In contrast to my esteemed colleague, I actively sought out participation with social service agencies shortly after touching down in Edmonton. I was convinced that as a freshly minted PhD I had much to offer and I was searching in earnest for a launching point for my critical lens. I welcomed the opportunity that serving on the board of directors for a local non-profit criminal justice social service agency, referred to pseudonymously below as Edmonton Justice Services (EJS), ostensibly provided. From the vantage point of my study of juvenile justice I was fully apprised and aware of the important work they conducted. However, my shiny optimism soon turned to gloomy cynicism.

Once on the ground and despite my earlier convictions, the demand for social justice for those marginalized by the colonialist capitalist socio-economic machine was seemingly absent. More concerned with physical and financial security, an ethic of care and commitment to unsettling the colonial condition was routinely suppressed in favour of an ethic of punishment that fixed the contemporary order. Such conventions fundamentally contribute to the very kind of quagmire social justice advocates abhor and critical scholars rally against. 

Their silence and complicity made it unimaginable for me to reconcile my commitment to social justice with what I experienced. The contradictory conditions I observed were many, but allow me to offer two examples that brought my complicity with the conditions I oppose into full view. First, as part of my duties I was routinely invited to attend meetings with delegates from throughout Alberta. Gatherings were moved around the province as part of a traveling road show. When the meetings landed in their towns, local designates proudly displayed their hard work and dedication to institutional goals. On one notable occasion a van pulled up to the host hotel just as the lunch break was winding to a close. Its purpose was to take all in attendance for a tour of the local jail that would provide an opportunity for local officials to show off their hard work. Attendees were quite perplexed when I turned down the offer. Returning delegates seemed unaware of the prisoners’ hardship and deprivation. They were unwilling or unable to quarrel over the gross overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples, the over-crowding, or the omnipresent systems of surveillance that characterize contemporary corrections. They left the institutional walls grateful that they were not staying behind. Once outside of the prison walls delegates were free to go about their days without having to wonder about the structural conditions that in the same instance produce their materialist prosperity and crime.

In place of critiquing present abhorrent conditions of life and proposing a just ethic of care for the most marginalized, this kind of quiet acquiescence contributes to marginalization (see Mathiesen, 2004). It became increasingly clear, however, that this organization like almost every other non-profit operating in the Cold City, could ill afford to critique or unmask the social suffering that buoys the capitalist state. This was my second insight into how social service agencies are ineffectual as platforms for and to justice. Instead of standing apart from systems of oppression, it became clear how firmly entrenched they are within them. Such a state of things was readily apparent, but became unmistakable when particularly contentious issues emerge (i.e. the proposal of particularly punitive changes in law, the treatment of prisoners and the living conditions of local houses of correction)—as they inevitably do in criminal justice circles. Instead of speaking out on behalf of the suffering other, organization officials were more or less muted lest their contrarian position raise the ire of the government on whose funding they depended for running programmes and their paychecks.

Social service agencies are locked in a precarious position: advocating too vociferously on behalf of the marginalized puts funding in peril. But this condition should not be surprising. Despite diversifying funding sources, many social service agencies in the Cold City continue to rely heavily on governmental structures to fund their essential services and to maintain their very existence. Confronted by increasingly scarce governmental funding these organizations can ill afford to critique and quarrel about the material conditions that provide the impetus for their work lest their slice of the proverbial funding pie be further eroded. Governing the other is their source of funding, their existence, and their raison d’être.

Such an ethos counters demands for, and labour in the name of, justice. Systems of marginalization and tyranny are undergirded when agencies rescind their willingness and ability to critique state disciplinary systems. Tyranny and marginalization are shored up when attention is dedicated almost entirely to garnering positive funding decisions and serving the colonialist government mandate. Gandhi was quite mindful of this dilemma. He said, “You assist an administration most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil administration never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil” (Ghandi 1961, 4).

Experiencing the disintegration of my desire for justice in this way was not an end. Failure in this instance suggested new beginnings and new ways of thinking about how we ought to be with others and manifested a revised ethic of care in the name of justice to come. This ethic is unbound from the guidelines and funding structures that fetter imagination. Instead it seeks out new ways of being through critique and social justice praxis. Our duty is to work toward and in the name of justice. Belief in the nobility and integrity of this principle cause is the first order.

Public Criminology, Critique and Possibility

As it is commonly envisioned, public criminology seeks to mobilize research-based knowledge in an effort to shift public opinion on crime, as well as crime policy (Loader and Sparks 2011), by offering “replacement discourses” (Henry 1994, 289) that enrich and expand participatory democratic dialogue on topics of crime and punishment. These efforts might occur through “newsmaking criminology” (Barak 1988), which enlists activities such as journalism (Henry 1994), blogging (Barak 2007), public lectures (Currie 2007), service as a subject expert for the media (Henry 1994), as well as relationship building with people of influence, such as policy makers and politicians (Stanko 2007; Petersilia 2008) (for critical evaluation of all of these activities, see Piché 2014).

Presented as such, although it is intended to bring scholars out of the ivory tower, public criminology appears to be set at a distance from those who are in need of care. On the one hand, the care offered through public criminology is often a matter of opinion formation and high-level negotiation, but rarely feels immediate, direct, and situated. But on the other hand, public criminology also often immerses itself too quickly into the hegemonic public without pausing to consider the conditions of struggle that exist in this field of action. The Cold City thus presents us with a paradox when we engage the public: as we seek to get closer to the “real” world and seek to be the sponsors of change, we also become entrenched in the dominant practices and logics of the hegemonic public sphere and thereby find it challenging to play a different game.

Public criminology thus must be more than a process of translating criminological insight into the cold world of criminal justice. It cannot simply endeavor to find channels for communicating complex theoretical and empirical insights into sound bites and policy recommendations. It must rather aim to make strategic incursions into public spaces while at the same time working equally hard to counter the cooptation of critical criminology into the affirmation and reproduction of the criminal justice system (whether as privileged reformer or loyal opposition) and its criminal justice public. This requires that one also step away from the public on occasion and find spaces of critique from which one might “tirelessly question what is and what is yet to come, so as to rethink the world instead of being bound and constrained by it” Hogeveen and Woolford 2006, 692).

A danger of the positive valuation of the “public” that comes with the notion of public criminology is that we will be inclined to further disparage the “ivory tower” of academia as a space removed from engagement with the “real” world. But a tower is not simply a space of confinement. It is a place of refuge and observation that fulfills its most crucial function in times of siege. Like the “keep” in castle architecture, critique from within the walls of the university offers a space of concentric defence against the onslaught of the neoliberal ethos. It is a zone of retrenchment, a potential space of counterpublic thought (Fraser 1997), that allows one to continue to “summon logics from beyond well-established limits” (Hogeveen and Woolford 2006, 281), even while one must act within and respond to these limits. Although the university is far from a pure space, and it is certainly not untouched by the logics and practices of neoliberalism (see Sanders and Eisler this volume), it nonetheless offers interstices where critical thought can still arise and from which one can make contact with other sources of counterpublic activity, such as social movements.

We have found this space valuable in our experiences engaging within the non-profit criminal justice field, where we have felt the pull of the neoliberal ethos upon contemporary justice practices. Swept up by the everyday needs of non-profit criminal justice social service agencies, it can be difficult for one to find purchase for tactical interventions that go against the grain. Critique, then, is the refuge to which we can turn, to gather strength, strategize, reconfirm our commitments, and set our resolve against the compulsion of “there is no alternative”. Increasingly, it is difficult to perform such critique from within the machinery of the bureaucratic field, and therefore marginal spaces—spaces beyond mainstream publics—are necessary seed grounds for counterhegemonic thought and practice.

In a time when criminological work is too often dismissed as irrelevant to criminal justice policy (Doyle and Moore 2011; Haggerty 2004), there is a temptation to more fully embrace the ‘public’ side of the public criminology equation and to become more “practical” and “relevant” in our research and public endeavours. However, the chill of the Cold City is such that it enters deep into one’s bones; it offers temporary warmth in the form of small tactical victories—e.g., the provision of care to someone who has not been prescribed as worthy of care by one’s programming guidelines, or a particularly pithy sound bite that perhaps stirs a moment of public debate—but is relentless in its transformation of the relations of care, making such moments more infrequent and fleeting. In such times, the scholarly, critical criminology side of public criminology is an essential resource. It is the space from which we can continue to try to imagine a possible and lasting warmth—an emancipation from the othering practices of criminal justice, or new forms of hospitality towards those in need—beyond the limited frames of responsibilizing care and disciplinary control imposed by the Cold City.

We do not, however, want to leave the impression that the space of critique is where one simply stands back from the world and indifferently dissects all that happens. Critique is a space to which one returns to try to examine and unpack the pressures of the Cold City, but it is also where we can contend with the emotions felt but suppressed amidst the need to negotiate the Cold City’s demands. But the objective is always to re-engage another day and to continue the struggle to bring lasting warmth to the Cold City.

Indeed, the purpose of engaging in a critical autoethnography of our experiences in the field is to bring feeling back into the equation, to refuse the artificial separation of feeling and thought, and to find time/space in which to reflect upon the emotional and embodied aspects of our public criminological work. On a personal level, what was perhaps most frightening about public criminology within the Cold City was how it sought to drain feeling out of helping relationships—to make them business-like, responsible, and efficient. Care and concern, anger, righteous indignation, and the like were unwelcome intrusions into the day-to-day operations of non-profit social services, leaving us feeling frustrated, disappointed, and unfulfilled. These experiences are not somehow separate from the practice of critique, they are central to it, and autoethnography therefore serves as an important tool in the practice of public criminology, offering moments of self-reflection and for remembering why we are doing what we are doing.

More specifically, though, there is also a need for more engagement in public criminology from below (Ruggiero, 2010). Public criminology cannot simply occur in press galleries and halls of government; it also needs to take place through relationship formation and a politics of care that moves beyond the specifications of neoliberal managerialism. Non-profit social service agencies, caught up as they are in the politics of the Cold City, and historically operating as creatures of the state (Wacquant 2009a), also do not offer an alternate or ideal model for a public criminology from below. Instead, we seek a just ethic of care that attends to the material conditions of the suffering. Such an ethic of care would maintain, sustain and transform human beings and the society in which they live into a more hospitable space that would open out to, rather than closes down upon suffering others (Minaker and Aylsworth this volume). This kind of caring hospitality encourages social service providers to seek new ethical ways of being with the other independent of state agendas and mandates (Hogeveen and Woolford forthcoming). Derrida (2002) argues that hospitality is an ‘attitude of utter openness and a readiness to give, unconditionally of all my possessions to the stranger knocking at my door’ (Boersma 2004). It is this attitude of radical openness that would inspire social service agencies to unconditionally welcome and care for the other while in the same instrance challenging othering processes with much less regard for bureaucracy, accountability and state sponsored mandates.



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