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Dr Vicky Canning

Dr Vicky Canning

Dr Vicky Canning
BA (hons), PhD, PGCE

Senior Lecturer

Office Room 3G6, 12 Woodland Road
School for Policy Studies,
8 Priory Road, Clifton BS8 1TZ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 3310573



My key interests lie with gendered harms, state power and violence, specifically in trajectories of violence in the lives of women seeking asylum. I have undertaken extensive research relating to gendered harm and asylum in Europe. My current project (2020-2021, British Academy) is entitled 'Unsilencing Sexualised Torture' and focuses on addressing support for survivors of this form of violence (with the Danish Institute Against Torture). I recently led a two year ESRC Future Research Leader Project which explored socially harmful practices in asylum processes in Britain, Denmark and Sweden. I am co-coordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, associate director at Oxford University's Border Criminologies, trustee at Statewatch EU, consultant editor of Justice, Power and Resistance journal, and on the editorial boards of Incarceration and Current Issues in Criminal Justice. I have been visiting scholar at Lund University and Monash University. 

My 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 I 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. I continue this partnership.

I acted as a consultant on the BAFTA award winning BBC series Exodus: Our Journey to Europe. For more information please see here:  My book Gendered Harm and Structural Violence in the British Asylum System won the British Society of Criminology Book Prize for 2018.

I campaign with Migrant Artists Mutual Aid and Merseyside Women's Movement, and recently co-produced the ‘Right to Remain Asylum Rights Navigation Board’ with Lisa Matthews (R2R) available here:



Canning, V. and Tombs, S. (2021) From Social Harm to Zemiology, Oxon: Routledge.

Canning, V. (2021) Managing Expectations: Impacts of Hostile Immigration Policies on Practitioners in Britain, Denmark and Sweden. Journal of Social Science, in press.

Canning, V. (2021), Sanctuary as Social Justice: A Feminist Critique, in Monk, H., Atkinson, K., Tucker, K. and Barr, U. (eds), Feminist Responses to Injustices of the State and Its Institutions, Bristol: Bristol University Press.


Canning, V. (2020), Corrosive Control: State-Corporate and Gendered Harm in Bordered Britain, Critical Criminology, Online first available:

Canning, V. (2020), Bureaucratised Banality: Asylum and Immobility in Britain, Denmark and Sweden, in Abdelhady, D., Gren, N. and Joormann, M. (eds.), Refugees and the Violence of Welfare Bureaucracies in northern Europe, Manchester: Manchester University Press, book here:

Canning, V. (2020), The Confinement Continuum: Sensing and Unease in Danish Asylum and Immigration Detention Centres, in Herrity, K., Schmidt, B and Warr, J. (eds), Sensory Penalities, Emerald Publishing. 

Bhatia, M. and Canning, V. (2020) Stealing Time: Migration, Temporality and Necropolitics, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Canning, V. (2020), Temporal Harm, Uncertainty and the Compounding of Trauma in Refugee Lives, Bhatia, M. and Canning, V. (2020) Stealing Time: Migration, Temporality and State Violence, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Bhatia, M. and Canning, V. (2020) Misery as Business: How Immigration Detention Became a Cash-Cow in Britain's Borders, in Albertson, K., Corcoran, M and Phillips, J. (eds) Marketisation and Privatisation in Criminal Justice, Bristol: Bristol University Press, book here:


Canning, V. (2019), Keeping up with the Kladdkaka: Kindness and Coercion in Swedish Immigration Detention, European Journal of Criminology, available here:

Canning, V. (2019), Reimagining Refugee Rights: Adressing Asylum Harms in Britain, Denmark and Sweden, Migration and MobilitiesBristol, available here: 

Canning, V. (2019), Degradation by Design: Women Seeking Asylum in Northern Europe, Race & Class, July 2019.

Canning, V. (2019), Abject Asylum: Degradation and the Deliberate Infliction of Harm against Refugees in Britain, Justice, Power and Resistance, Vol. 2, No. 2.

Canning, V. (2019), What is it Like to Seek Asylum? Sociology Review, Vol. 29, No. 1, 7-10.


Canning, V. and Matthews, L. (2018), Right to Remain Asylum Navigation Board, available to buy here:

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


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

Canning, V., Caur, J., Gilley, A., Kebemba, E., Rafique, A. and Verson, J. (2017) Migrant Artists Mutual Aid: Strategies for Survival, Recipes for Resistance, London: Calverts Publishing.

Canning, V. (2017) The Multiple Forms of Violence in the Asylum System, in Cooper, V. and Whyte, D. (eds) The Violence of Austerity, London: Pluto Press.


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 (ed.) (2014) Sites of Confinement: Prisons, Punishment and Detention, Bristol: EG Press.

Canning, V. (2014) 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. (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, 847-862Canning, 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.



Canning, V. and Bosworth, M. (2020), Women Seeking Asylum: In Conversation, OXford Law Faculty and Border Criminologies, available:

Canning, V. and Matthews, L. (2020), The Asylum Navigation Board, Right to Remain, available:

Canning, V. (2019), Tools for Change: Building Activist Agendas Against Asylum Harms, British Society of Criminology, available:

Canning, V. (2018), Interview: The Impacts of Legal Aid Cuts’, The Open University, available,

Canning, V. (2018), ‘I’m Just No Good’: The Right to Remain Asylum Navigation Board as a Tool for Collective Rights’, Oxford Border Criminologies, available

Interview with Irlin Osaland (2018), Social Harm in the Danish Asylum System, available

Canning, V., Kassab, A. and Yahya, K. (2018), From Syria to Scandinavia: Navigating the Refugee Reception Crisis, Open University Mygration Project,

Bhatia, M. and Canning, V. (2018), Home Office Deportation Targets show that the British Immigration System is Harmful by Design, The Conversation,

Canning, V. (2017) LGBTQI Asylum Rights in Sweden, Radio RFSL, Malmo,

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. and Bhatia, M. (2017) Brutality of Immigration Detention Laid Bare, The Conversation, available at

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

Canning, V. (2017) Video: The Human Right to Asylum, Open University, 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).



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.

2016: Confines, Controls and Resistance at the Border: Conference Report, Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative,available here:

2014: Problemising Prisons: Sites of Confinement Conference Report, European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, available here:



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 inState Crime Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2: 304-307 




2020: British Academy

Small Grant Award

Unsilencing Sexualised Torture


2018: British Society of Criminology

                Criminology Book Prize

                Gendered Harm and Structural Violence in the British Asylum System


2017: Centre for Citizenship, Identity and Governance Seedcorn Funding.

Migrant Artists Mutual Aid: Strategies for Survival, Recipes for Resistance book (impact collaboration with women seeking asylum).

Principle Investigator

Grant: £3800


2017: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Research Funding,

Staff Development Award: managing personnel.

Principle Investigator

Grant: £3663


2016: Economic and Social Research Council, Future Research Leader Award.

‘Gendered Experiences of Social Harm in Asylum: Exploring State Responses Persecuted Women in Britain, Denmark and Sweden

Principle Investigator

Grant: £105, 327(funding matched internally by Open University, totalling £210, 654).


2015: Centre for Citizenship, Identities and Governance, Conference Facilitation Grant.

Supporting Survival: Sustaining Feminist Activism in Merseyside

               Principle Investigator

               Grant: £3175

2015: Harm and Evidence Research Collaborative, Conference Facilitation Grant.

Sites of Confinement, University of Torino, Turin, Italy.

               Principle Investigator

               Grant: £900


2015: International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research, Travel Grant Award

              Project Title: Visiting Scholar At Monash University, present at QUT and University of   


              Grant: £2736.


2013: LJMU Early Career Research Fellowship

             ‘State and Organisational Responses to Sexually Tortured Refugees in Denmark’

              Principle Investigator

              Grant: £1953


2012: LJMU Support for Research Activities Grant: £510.

              Post-doctoral conference attendance

              Grant: £510


2010: British Academy Small Grant:

‘Women’s Experiences of Asylum and Maternity in Merseyside’: (Lead bid writer and research assistant for Dr. Helen Churchill

             Grant: 5345


2009: Liverpool John Moores University Staff Development Funding Award

             Project Title: Nobody Asks to be Raped (anti-sexual violence awareness campaign

             Principle Investigator

             Grant: £1294.


Shared/Team Awards

2017: British Academy of Film and Television Award (BAFTA), Best Factual Series, for development of OU/KEO/BBC production, Exodus: Our Journey to Europe (joint award for team)

2017: British Universities Film & Video Council ‘Learning Onscreen’ Awards, Premier Award and General Education Broadcast Award, for development of OU/KEO/BBC production, Exodus: Our Journey to Europe (joint award for team)

2017: Royal Television Society, Best Documentary Series, for development of OU/KEO/BBC production, Exodus: Our Journey to Europe (joint award for team)

2017: Broadcast Awards, Best Documentary Series, for development of OU/KEO/BBC production, Exodus: Our Journey to Europe (joint award for team




2018- Present

Co-coordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control:


2017- Present:

Board Trustee, Statewatch:


2016 – Present:

Editorial Board Member, Justice, Power and Resistance journal


2012 – Present:

Prisons, Punishment and Detention Working Group Co-ordinator



British Sociological Association ‘Sociology of Rights’ Study Group – Convener of ‘Law, Crime and Rights’ stream.




I teach across Criminology and Social Policy, currently contributing to Understanding Crime, Harm and Society, co-leading Key Thinkers in Criminology (with Dr. Sam Kirwin) and leading Globalisation: Crime,Harm and Justice. I currently supervise PhD students on issues relating to migration and harm.

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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