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Dr Anna Schliehe


Anna Schliehe joined the Institute of Criminology and the PRC at the University of Cambridge as a post-doctoral researcher in June 2016. She was awarded a Diplom (Geography) from the University of Muenster, Germany, in 2011 and went on to do a MRes in Human Geography at the University of Glasgow. Anna completed her doctoral research project in 2013-2016 with the title 'Tracing outsideness: young women's institutional journeys and geographies of closed space'. Her research on the Scottish criminal justice system and its responses to young women in particular is informed by both carceral geography and criminological scholarship. Anna is interested in understanding the nature and experience of closed spaces, connecting empirical to conceptually challenging research.

To explore this she draws on diverse and creative methods (ethnography, discourse analysis, qualitative interviews, mental maps) and disciplines (criminology, human geography, creative arts). Through her work with often vulnerable groups as well as professionals she has experience in ethics processes on university level as well as with prisons and other institutions. Anna has long-standing experience in presenting at conferences, organising sessions and workshops. She has engaged in various outreach work, collaborating closely with the Scottish Centre for Criminal Justice Research (SCCJR) and with services like Up-2-Us (third sector organisation that supports young people in prison and secure accommodation). Anna has been involved in report writing and policy development for Phase Three Consultancy and Up-2-Us in Scotland. She is currently working on an edited collection with Dr Dominique Moran which is part of Palgrave's criminology series, and has been involved in peer reviewing for different journals including Progress in Human Geography.

Research Interests

Anna's PhD project is concerned with the experiences of girls and women in the Scottish criminal justice system. It explores their experiences in three types of institutions (secure care units, prison, closed psychiatric units) and professionals' views of the Scottish system. The discourse on spaces of confinement is extended by highlighting the women's 'trajectory' into incarceration and the use of closed institutions as a response to 'unmanageable' and 'disorderly' behaviour. It specifies how these social, material and symbolic spaces are experienced and responded to and what the institutional journeys between them can look like. The geography of three different systems of confinement for girls and women works towards an understanding of the carceral experience as embodied, emotional and often repetitive practice going beyond physical carceral detainment. The projects sits within the subfield of carceral geography but works across other disciplines like criminology and subfields like mental health geography or security geography. It engages with conceptual, methodological and empirical debates, interrogating both the constitution of closed spaces, their inner working and permeability, as well as individual adaption, resistance and identity formation in restrictive institutional environments. The two aspects are connected by tracing the young women's journeys through different carceral systems and their life beyond confinement. Through fieldwork and engagement with practitioners, this project has led to further involvement in policy and practice beyond the academy.

Key Publications

Schliehe, A. (forthcoming) 'Towards a feminist carceral geography? Of female offenders and prison spaces' In: Moran, D.; Schliehe, A. (eds) (forthcoming) Confined places, secure spaces: The spatialisation of studies of confinement [Palgrave]

  • Schliehe, A. (forthcoming) 'Constraint locomotion: of complex micro-scale mobilities in carceral environments' In: Peters, K.; Turner, J. (eds) (forthcoming) Carceral mobilities [Routledge]

  • Schliehe, A .; Crowley, A. (forthcoming) 'Carefully controlled: young people and their pathways through spaces of secure care' In: Horton J.; Pyer,M. (eds) (forthcoming) Children, young people and care [Routledge]

  • Schliehe, A (2016) 'Re-discovering Goffman - contemporary carceral geography, the 'total' institution and notes on heterotopia' In: Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography

  • Schliehe, A . (2015) 'Locking up children and young people - secure care in Scotland' In: Horton, J.; Evans, B. (eds) Geographies of Children and Young People [Springer]

  • Schliehe, A . (2014) 'Inside 'the Carceral': Girls and Young Women in the Scottish Criminal Justice System' In: Scottish Geographical Journal, DOI10.1080/14702541.2013.838639

  • Laxton, M.; Clark, N.; Schliehe, A. (2011) 'Caring for young people with mental health problems' Phase Three Consultancy Paper for Gateway, Dublin.

Prisons Research at Cambridge University

The Prisons Research Centre (PRC) was founded in 2000, under the Directorship of Professor Alison Liebling. The Centre has received funding from a wide range of sources, including the Prison Service/NOMS, the Nuffield Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust, the ESRC, KPMG, the Home Office and UKDS (now Kalyx).

The Cambridge Institute of Criminology Prisons Research Centre aims to provide a stimulating research environment in which a coherent strategy of high quality research can be pursued, and integration between funded and non-funded, and applied and theoretical projects can be facilitated. We investigate how prisons operate, socially, morally and operationally, how they are experienced, and the relationship between these moral and social qualities, and their effects.

Members of the PRC team carry out, individually and collectively, methodologically rigorous and theoretically relevant field-based studies addressing problems of human and social values, punishment practices, and the organisation and effects of aspects of prison life. We strive to forge links with other prisons researchers, scholars in the broader fields of criminology and sociology, and with practitioners. Our vision is to develop a rigorous and person-centred model of social inquiry.

You can read more about the latest projects in our Annual Reports.