Contention CFP - Crime as Protest, Protest as Crime

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Call for Papers

Crime as Protest, Protest as Crime: Interdisciplinary Perspectives



Dr Giovanni Travaglino (Department of Law & Criminology, Royal Holloway, University of London)

Dr Cristina d'Aniello (Department of Social Sciences, University of the West of England, Bristol)


The concepts of crime and politics continuously redefine each other’s boundaries.


Crime has been used as an expression of dissent against power. The actions of bandits, pirates, smugglers and – more recently – urban gangs, mafias and hackers have been construed, not without controversy, as acts of resistance against predatory appropriation, institutional injustice and marginalization. Recent episodes of property looting have reignited debates about legitimate dissent, infiltrations in social movements and the meaning of vandalism in mass protest.


Conversely, we increasingly observe a pervasive and diffuse criminalisation of social protest activities. A vague new ‘national security law’ in Hong Kong has made it near-to-impossible to convey criticism against the government. New planned protest bills in the UK might affect and reduce individuals’ rights to voice discontent. While the COVID-19 pandemic has stirred dissatisfaction and accentuated inequalities globally, some governments have seized on the public health emergency to ban, selectively and partially, public gatherings and demonstrations.


Crime and protest are often used as contrasting labels to define the same event. What is at play is the (de)legitimization of specific voices or discourses.


In this special issue, we aim to provide a broad range of different disciplinary perspectives analysing the use of criminal behaviour as an act of rebellion, the criminalization of social protest, or the more specific (and often ambiguous) nexus between crime and protest. Examples of suitable topics include empirical analyses of recent or past protest events, legal analyses of the implications of protest laws, analyses of terrorism, ambiguous criminal groups or social behaviours.


We welcome high quality original articles with empirical or theoretical contributions from the social sciences, arts, and humanities. We welcome interdisciplinary articles, as well as work conducted within the boundaries of a single discipline.



For more information about this special issue, and questions concerning the suitability of specific topics and articles, please contact the editors:

Dr Giovanni Travaglino ( and Dr Cristina d’Aniello (


Contention’s general style guidelines can be found here ( Articles can be submitted online at: Submissions should include a cover letter clearly indicating that they are intended for consideration in the special issue “Crime as Protest, Protest as Crime: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.



Contention is an academic journal dedicated to research on and about social protest and political behaviour. The journal advances essential knowledge on of collective action, social movements, and other forms of social and political contention. By providing a multidisciplinary forum to scholars within and across the social sciences and humanities, it seeks to promote scholarly exchange and knowledge sharing among them.


Please visit our website for more information about the journal, and previous issues:

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