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Dr Victoria Canning

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Lecturer in Criminology
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Hist, Rel St, Soc, SP&C
  • Social Policy & Criminology
  • victoria.canning

Professional biography

Victoria's key interests lie with gendered harms, state power and violence, specifically in trajectories of violence in the lives of women seeking asylum. She is currently leading a two year ESRC Future Research Leader Project which explores socially harmful practices in asylum processes in Britain, Denmark and Sweden. Main focus points include everyday violence, sexual violence and torture support, temporal harms, immigration detention and destitution.

Vicky's PhD (2008-2011) investigated barriers to support for women seeking asylum in Merseyside who have been subjected to sexual violence during conflict and civil unrest. In 2013 she was awarded an Early Career Research grant from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) to undertake research with The Danish Institute Against Torture (DIGNITY) in Copenhagen, investigating psychosocial responses to women survivors of conflict.

Vicky's recent book, Gendered Harms and Structural Violence in the British Asylum System won the British Society of Criminology book prize for 2018. She has also acted as a consultant on the BAFTA award winning BBC series Exodus: Our Journey to Europe. For more information please see here:

She is also an activist with Migrant Artists Mutual Aid and Merseyside Women's Movement, and regularly advises on research and policy with organisations working to support survivors of gendered violence.



Canning, V., Hillyard, P. and Tombs, S. (2019) From Social Harm to Zemiology: a Critical Introduction, Oxon: Routledge.

Canning, V. (2017) Gendered Harm and Structural Violence in the British Asylum System, Oxon: Routledge available here:

Canning, V., Cuar, J., Gilley, A., Kabemba, E., Rafique, A., Verson, J. (2017) Migrant Artists Mutual Aid: Strategies for Survival, Recipes for Resistance, London: Calverts Co-operative.

Canning, V (ed.) (2014) Sites of Confinement: Prisons, Punishment and Detention, European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control Publishing.


Chapters in Books

Canning, V. (2019), Endoborders, Exoborders and Bureaucratic Controls in British, Danish and Swedish Asylum Systems, in Abdelhady, D., Gren, N. and Joormann, M. (eds.), Bureaucratised Violence at the Borders of Northern Europe, Duke University Press.

Canning, V. (2018) Zemiology at the Border,  in Boukli, P. and Kotze, J. (eds.) Zemiology: Reconnecting Crime and Social Harm, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Canning, V. (2018) Border (Mis)Management, Ignorance and Denial, in Barton, A. and Davis, H. (eds) Agnotology, Power and Harm: the Study of Ignorance and the Criminological Imagination, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Canning, V. (2017) Muliple Forms of Violence in the Asylum System, in Cooper, V. and Whyte, D. (eds) The Violence of Austerity, London: Pluto Press.Canning, V. (2011) Who’s human? Developing sociological understandings of the rights of women raped in conflict, in Hynes, P., Lamb, M., Short, D. and Waites, M. (eds.) Sociology and Human Rights London: Routledge


Journal Articles

Canning, V. (forthcoming), Keeping up with the Kladdkaka: Keeping up with the Kladdkaka: Kindness and Coercion in Swedish Immigration Detention Centres

Canning, V. (2018). Abject Asylum: Degradation and the Deliberate Infliction of Harm against Refugees in Britain, Justice, Power and Resistance, Vol. 2, No. 2.

Canning, V. (2018) Abject Asylum

Canning, V. (2016) Unsilencing Sexual Torture: Responses to Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Denmark, British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 56, No. 3: 438-456.

Canning, V. (2014a) International Conflict, Sexual Violence and Asylum Policy: Merseyside as a Case Study, Critical Social Policy, February 2014, Vol. 34, Issue 1: 23-45.

Canning, V. (2014b) Women, Asylum and the Harms of Detention Criminal Justice Matters December 2014, Vol. 98.

Canning, V. (2011) Women Seeking Sanctuary: Questioning State Responses to Violence against Women in the Asylum System, Criminal Justice Matters September 2011, Vol. 85.

Canning, V. (2010) Who’s human? Developing sociological understandings of the rights of women raped in conflict, International Journal of Human Rights Vol. 14, nos 6-7, 847-862.


Wider Publications

2018: Supporting Sanctuary, Facilitating Change: a Review of Asylum Processes in Contemporary Britain, Denmark and Sweden to be published mid 2018 as part of ESRC/HERC research series.

Canning, V. and Minor A. (2017), Women Refugees in Denmark, Brave New Europe, available at

Canning, V. and Bhatia, M. (2017), Brutality of British Immigration System Laid Bare, The Conversation, available at 

Bhatia, M. and Canning, V. (2017) Dungavel, Detention and Deportation, The Geographer, Spring 2017.

Canning, V. (2017) Today's Immigration Laws Have Teeth, and Their Bite is Toxic, The Conversation, available at    

Canning, V. (2016) The Criminalisation of Asylum, available at:  

Canning, V. and Iliadou, E. (2016a) Occupying Turin: Refugees Breathe Life into Abandoned Buildings of Olympic Village, The Conversation, available at  

Bhatia, M. and Canning, V. (2016b) Immigration Detention: a Tale of Two Reviews, The Institute of Race Relations, available at 

Canning, V. and Bhatia, M. (2016c) Immigration Detention: What’s the Problem with Privatisation? Society Matters, available at 

Canning, V. (2015a) The Asylum System, Social World Module, The Open University

Canning, V. (2015b) I Would Build… a Humane Asylum System, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, available at 

Canning, V. (2014a) Violence in Britain: Behind the Wire at Immigration Removal Centres, The Conversation, available at 

Canning, V. (2014b) Interview: Amnesty International Finds Global Torture ‘Flourishing’ available at  May 2014.

Canning, V. (2013) Illusions of Freedom: The Paradox of Border Confinement, Oxford University Border Criminologies available 

Canning, V. (2011a) Policy or Practice? Exploring Support for Conflict Rape Survivors Seeking Asylum in Merseyside, Asylum Aid: Women’s Asylum News June 2011.

Canning, V. (2011b) Transcending Conflict: Exploring Sexual Violence Support for Women Seeking Asylum in Merseyside, PhD Thesis (awarded March 2012).



Canning, V. (2018), review of Saeed, T. (2016), Islamophobia and Securitization, London: Palgrave Macmillan in Journal of Language and Discrimination, Vol. 1, No. 3.

Canning, V. (2018), review of Barker, V. (2018), Nordic Nationalism and Penal Order: Walling the Welfare State, in Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, Vol. 57, No. 2.

Canning, V. (2017) review of McKinnon, S. (2016), Gendered Asylum: Race and Violence in U.S. Law and Politics, in Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, Vol. 3, No. 2: 283–284

Canning, V. (2017) review of Weber, L. Fishwick, E. and Marmo, M. (2016)(eds)The Routledge International Handbook of Criminology and Human Rights in State Crime Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2: 304-307  


Selected Conference Participation/ Invited Guest Speaker

'This is new Sweden': Contemporary Challenges to Refugee Support in Scandinavia, The Swedish Red Cross Centre for Persons Affected by War and Torture in Malmö, March 2018.

Addressing Female Genital Mutilation in Women’s Asylum Claims, International Zero Tolerance Day to Female Genital Mutilation, FACT, UK, February 2018.

Operation Deportation: the Denial of Human Autonomy in Asylum in Britain, Denmark and Sweden. SOAS, University of London, January 2018.

Banality and Resistance within Danish Borders, Refugees in Northern Europe, Lund University, Sweden, June 2017.

Illusions of Sanctuary: The Silencing of Harms in the British Asylum System, DeMontfort University, UK, February 2017.

Deterrence, Degradation and the Deliberate Infliction of Harm in Britain’s Asylum System, Politics and Public Policy Research Seminar Series, Northumbria University, February 2017. 

Illusions of Sanctuary: The Silencing of Harms in the British Asylum System, Citical Research Seminar Series, DeMonfort University, February 2017.

Responding to Refugees in Britain and Denmark: Reflections from a Social Harm Perspective, Danish Institute Against Torture,December 2016.

Evading Accountability: Confronting Britain's Role in Europe's Border Crisis, Seeking Asylum in 2016, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, September 2016.

Scepticism, Optimism and Resistance in the Shifting Landscapes of Immigration Detention in Britain European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, With Monish Bhatia, Minho University, Braga, Portugal, September 2016.

The Gendered Impacts of Harmful Practices in the British Asylum System, Crime and Justice Conference, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, July 2015.

Transparency and the Gendered Impact of Intentional Harms in the British Asylum System, Criminology Seminar Series, Monash University, Australia, July 2015.

Gender, Social Harm and Asylum in Britain, Faculty of Law Seminar Series, University of Melbourne, Australia, June 2015.

Structural Violence in Britain, Crimes of the Powerful, Abertay University, Scotland, June 2015.

Social Harm and Structural Violence in the British Asylum System, British Sociological Association Annual Conference, Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, April 2015.

Asylum, Sexual Violence and the State How Violent is Britain? University of Liverpool, May 2014.

Sustaining Activism in Times of Austerity Engaging with Gender Issues: Knowledge Exchange with Community Groups University of Liverpool (AHRC funded), April 2014.

Psychosocial Responses to Sexually Tortured Refugees, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Gothenburg, February 2014.

Trajectories and Continuums: Violence, Conflict and Asylum Global Refugee Studies, Aalbourg University, Denmark, June 2013.

The Ladder of Human Responsibility: Responding to Sexually Tortured Refugees European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, University of Oslo, Norway, September 2013.

Sexual Violence, Activism and Resistance in an Age of ‘Austerity’ Rights and Humanity, Royal Liver Building, March 2013.

Austerity and Marginalisation: Women, asylum and ConDem cuts European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social, University of Nicosia, Cyprus, September 2012.

Sexual Violence and Asylum: Aligning Women’s Experiences with Practice and Policy Centre for the Study of Emotion and Law, Facilitating Justice for Traumatised Women Seeking Asylum, September 2012.

Counting the Uncountable: Entitlement to Sanctuary and Asylum for Women Raped in Conflict European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control Université de Savoie, Chambery, September 2011.

Support for Survivors: Sexual Violence in Conflict Liverpool Gender Research Consortium, University of Liverpool, May 2011.

Academic Activism: Working for Women’s Rights Locally and Globally Global Justice: Meeting Basic Needs through Education, St. Louis University, Madrid, April 2011.

The Reality of Rape Radical Women, Radical City, Bluecoat Chambers Liverpool, March 2011.

Non-Gendered Research: Changing the Lens University of Liverpool, February 2011.

Transcending Conflict: Barriers to Sexual Violence Support for Women Seeking Asylum in Merseyside British Sociological Association Annual Conference London School of Economics, April 2011.

Challenging Sexual Violence: A Community Approach, Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa Leadership and Management for Local Health and

Community Development Conference, Liverpool Hope University, July 2010.

Canning, V. and Fletcher, S. (2010) Participatory Mapping as a Tool for Measuring Gendered Spatial Negotiation, University of Szeged, Hungary, May 2010.

Sexual Violence as a Tactic for Genocide, Manchester Metropolitan University, February 2010.

Rape during Conflict: Local and Globalised Impacts on Survivors and Communities Interdisciplinary Forum, University of Liverpool, November 2009.

Canning, V. and Fletcher, S. (2009) the Gendered Spacing of the Capital of Culture University of Innsbruck, Austria, May 2009.

Research interests

Trajectories of violence in migrant women’s lives; conflict related violence and persecution; impacts of sexual violence and sexual torture; the politics of exclusion; social harm and structural violence in the British asylum system; asylum and immigration detention.

Teaching interests

My main teaching interests are in the areas of violence, gender and harms. I have previously taught across a number of subjects and areas, including criminology, sociology, social policy and human geography. I have led and contributed to modules including 'Power, Gender and Criminal Justice'; 'Violent Conflict and Forced Migration'; ‘Inside the Criminal Justice System’; 'Criminological and Social Investigation'; 'Research Methodologies'; ‘Inequalities in Health’ and ‘Studying Criminology’.

Course Development and Teaching Experience at the OU:

Qualification Director of the Criminology and Law Programme (Q92)

Chair of Crime and Global Justice (DD804)

Academic Consultant: BBC2 series, Exodus: Our Jourey to Europe

Author in DD103: Investigating the Social World

Author in DD312: Inequality, Social Policy and Crime

PhD Supervision: Evgenia Iliadou, researching Migration and Harm in Lesvos (with Dr. Karim Murji)

I am interested in supervising post-graduate students in any of my research area interests, but specifically violence against women; border criminologies; gendered persecution in conflict.

External collaborations


Unsilencing Sexual Torture: Responses to Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Denmark (2016-05-03)
Canning, Victoria
British Journal of Criminology, 56, Article 2(3) (pp. 438-455)
International conflict, sexual violence and asylum policy: Merseyside as a case study (2014-02-01)
Canning, Victoria
Critical Social Policy, 34(1) (pp. 23-45)
Who’s human? Developing sociological understandings of the rights of women raped in conflict (2010-11)
Canning, Victoria
The International Journal of Human Rights, 14(6) (pp. 849-864)
Gendered Harm and Structural Violence in the British Asylum System (2017-03-30)
Canning, Victoria
Routledge Studies in Criminal Justice, Borders and Citizenship
ISBN : 9781138854659 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London
Zemiology at the Border (2018)
Canning, Victoria
In: Boukli, Avi (Paraskevi) and Kotze, Justin eds. Zemiology: reconnecting crime and social harm (pp. 183-201)
ISBN : 978-3-319-76311-8 | Publisher : Palgrave
The Multiple Forms of Violence in the Asylum System (2017)
Canning, Victoria
In: Cooper, Vickie and Whyte, David eds. The Violence of Austerity (pp. 67-74)
ISBN : 978-0-7453-9948-5 | Publisher : Pluto Press | Published : London
Sites of Confinement: Prisons, Punishment and Detention, Weston-Super-Mare (2014)
Canning, Victoria ed.
ISBN : 9780951170861 | Publisher : The European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control | Published : Weston-Super-Mare