Dr Phil Crockett Thomas

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow 2021-22

Dr Phil Crockett Thomas

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow 2021-22

Phil’s research interests include the sociology of harm and control, state punishment, poststructuralist philosophy, feminist theory, and practice-based research. Her work investigates how critical theory, and creative and collaborative approaches to research can help us imagine and build a more just society. Alongside more traditional social science approaches, Phil’s research practice includes writing fiction and poetry, and making films. 

Phil completed a PhD in Visual Sociology from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2018. In this project she explored the concept of crime using poststructuralist philosophy and creative collaborations.  Most recently she was based at the University of Glasgow as a researcher on the Distant Voices project (2017-2021). This project used collaborative songwriting with people who had experience of the criminal justice system, to explore and challenge ideas about crime, punishment and reintegration.  

Phil is passionate about the democratisation of knowledge and accessible scholarship. She has published a number of academic articles in open access journals, these are also available to access on her website. Her short story collection Crime Series, poetry collection Stir, and play The Girls Get Younger Every Year are also available open access on her website.

Phil’s first degree was in Dance and she has previously lectured in Cultural Studies at the London Contemporary Dance School, Trinity Laban, and the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. She has also worked as a graduate tutor in Criminology and Sociology at Goldsmiths. She has guest lectured at University of Glasgow, Goldsmiths and the University of Surrey. Phil will hold an affiliation with the University of Glasgow during her fellowship.

To learn more about Phil’s work and methodological approach, listen to this interview on the Just Humans podcast.

Prison Break: Imagining Alternatives to Prison in the UK

This inventive project invites people variously engaged in prison abolition (activists, academics, ex-prisoners) to ‘time travel’ to a future UK in which prisons no longer exist, and to craft science-fiction about how prisons were abolished and what came after. Building on the political consensus that prison does not diminish social harm, the project uses a novel creative method, ‘fictioning’, to re-imagine prison and the future of justice in the UK.

The project aims to:

– critically engage and explore possibilities of transformative change in the UK prison system.

– employ creative, practice-based methods to stimulate new ways of thinking beyond entrenched, circular debates about prison, and as a model for addressing other intractable social problems.

– offer a distinct account of UK abolition (particularly BAME efforts).

– test the viability of ‘fictioning’ as a robust tool of social science research and inquiry.

– disseminate creative products that can stimulate new dialogues on the future of prison. 

– develop a workshop format that can be reproduced independently by others and could form the basis of further research.

The methodology will be advanced via 11 months of creative action-research workshops with abolitionists, aimed at generating new insights into punishment and justice. We will produce fiction, an educational resource, and a website, and publicly share these outputs to revitalise penal reform and abolition debates.

This project argues that arts-based methods can play a vital role in re-imagining the future of prisons and more just solutions to social harm. In its creation and dissemination of an accessible learning resource, the project also contributes to public knowledge of the social harms of prison and arguments for prison abolition.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at [email protected].