Regarding the ‘Pain of Others’: Fractured Lives, Dissenting Voices, Recovering Truth

Wednesday 6th November, 2:30 pm – 4:00pm, H2 Lecture Theatre


‘What to do with such knowledge of faraway suffering? … it seems normal for people to [ignore] the ordeals of others. We don’t get it. We truly can’t imagine how dreadful, how terrifying, and how normal it becomes. Can’t understand, can’t imagine’. (Susan Sontag, 2002)

Drawing on his published in-depth research Phil Scraton explores the profound challenges involved in bearing witness to the ‘pain of others’, foregrounding their social, political and economic rights in the processes of investigation and inquiry. Recounting personal testimonies ‘from below’, revealing institutionalised deceit and pursuing ‘truth recovery’, this talk argues that dissenting voices are the foundation of hope, resistance and transformation. Further, they challenge the assumption that ‘well-being’ is reducible to personal responsibility.

Brief profile

Professor Phil Scraton

Professor Phil Scraton

Professor Emeritus in the School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast, formerly Professor and Head of the Centre for Studies in Crime and Social Justice, Edge Hill University. He has held recent visiting professorships at Amherst College, USA, the Universities of Auckland, Monash, New South Wales and Sydney. Widely published on critical theory, prisons and the rights of children/ young people, his books include: In the Arms of the Law – Coroners’ Inquests and Deaths in Custody; Law, Order and the Authoritarian State; Power, Conflict and Criminalisation; ‘Childhood’ in ‘Crisis’?; The Violence of Incarceration; The Incarceration of Women; Hillsborough The Truth. A member of the Liberty Advisory Committee on deaths in custody, he led the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s research team and was principal author of its 2012 Report, Hillsborough. He was seconded to the families’ legal teams throughout the 2014-2016 inquests. Consultant on, and contributor to, the 2017 BAFTA winning ESPN/BBC documentary Hillsborough, he holds a Leverhulme Fellowship to research the unique work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and all that followed. In 2018 he was Visiting Fellow at the University of Sydney co-convening a two-month funded research programme on coroners’ inquests into contested deaths. It includes comparative research in London, Dublin, Belfast and Derry. He is co-investigator for the Irish Council of Civil Liberties’ research project Deaths in Contested Circumstances and Coroners’ Inquests. He was awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool in recognition of his Hillsborough research.