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Is the empire coming home? Liberalism, exclusion and the punitiveness of the British state

Moore, J.M.


J.M. Moore


The rapid expansion of the use of incarceration and the criminal justice system’s penetration of new areas of private and public life have been linked to the emergence of “Neo-Liberalism”. This expansion of punitiveness has been portrayed as a reactionary departure from a previously civilising and progressive social history (Pratt 2002).

Rejecting this view as metropole-centric this paper reconceptualises the British state to include the colonial as well as the metropole. The first section incorporates colonial experiences into penal history to show that the “New Punitiveness” is in fact anything but new and has deep roots in colonial history. The second section argues that nineteenth century Liberalism used exclusionary exceptions to reconcile “liberty” at home with “imperialism” abroad. It is these exceptions, central to liberal thought, that are currently legitimising penal expansion.

Is it a coincidence that the direct descendants of the subjugated populations of the colonized periphery where the British state punitive strategies were tested and developed are now among the main targets of its deployment at the metropolitan centre? Is the Empire coming home?


Moore, J. (2014, June). Is the empire coming home? Liberalism, exclusion and the punitiveness of the British state. Paper presented at British Society of Criminology Conference, Liverpool University

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name British Society of Criminology Conference
Conference Location Liverpool University
Start Date Jun 30, 2014
End Date Jul 3, 2014
Publication Date Jul 1, 2014
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2019
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords British state, colonialism, liberalism, new punitiveness, neoliberalism
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : British Society of Criminology Conference


The Empire’s coming home BSC July 2014.pptx (86 Kb)

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