CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, November 22, 2019

Colson & Field on Transnational Prescriptions in Criminal Justice

Renaud Colson and Stewart Field (Faculté de Droit et des Sciences politiques de l'Université de Nantes and Cardiff University) have posted Learning from Elsewhere: From Cross-Cultural Explanations to Transnational Prescriptions in Criminal Justice (Journal of Law and Society, 46, Special Issue 1, 2019, 1-11) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
We are living at a time in which increasingly concerns about crime and security are shared across national borders and our responses are becoming transnational. In this context, it is hardly surprising that the comparative study of criminal justice practice and policy and its transfer across national boundaries is beginning to emerge as a new field of research both in criminology and criminal justice. One can distinguish two linked research questions within this field. The first is the more descriptive or analytical. How are concepts of good or best practice in security and criminal justice being constructed and circulated transnationally? How do transfers take place, through what channels and with what effects (good and bad)? The second research question is more directly normative with clear prescriptive implications. To what extent is it desirable to seek to identify transnational good or best practice? What are the difficulties and challenges in doing so validly?

Translation studies can provide a useful guide to the researcher involved in the comparison and the circulation of norms and practices between criminal justice systems. Language and law are analogous in many ways. Both are systems of rules (linguistic or legal) which evolve in particular social, economic and political contexts. Both are the result of historical processes shaped by interaction with other linguistic and legal systems, and these interactions often reflect hegemonic power relationships. Moreover, comparative law and translation studies have much in common. Comparative lawyers are often obviously confronted with the issue of translation when working on foreign laws. But beyond this visible connection, which simply flows from different legal systems being in different languages, there are other similarities between the two disciplines. Indeed, both provide methods to mediate meanings and identify correspondence between distinct semiotic universes, and both engage in debates on the value of these methods and their results.

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