Researcher in Prison
What impact will the future closed prison have on Greenlanders sentenced to custody? On how crime and different reactions to violations of the law are perceived? How will it affect the country’s other open institutions? And will the closed institution mean – as the final piece in the implementation of the Greenlandic judicial reform – that Greenland self rule will be a step closer to bringing home the judicial area, which still falls under Denmark?
That is what assistant professor at Ilisimatusarfik, Annemette Nyborg Lauritsen PhD, is asking. These are some of the issues she wants to do more research into – and she has already started. She has received a grant from Scandinavian Research Council for Criminology for the research project “Criminality, Imprisonment and Control in Greenland”. Here she will work with, among other things, the convicts’ backgrounds, their mutual relationships, and with how violent criminals relate to their victims.
She is also trying to learn more about the shape of the Greenlandic prisoner population via analyses of the inmates’ records during visits to Herstedvester prison and three Greenlandic institutions, where she will stay among the inmates.
Annemette Nyborg Lauritsen has been fascinated by criminology and the conditions for convicts since her youth. Her first degree, however, was as a music teacher, before she started the degree in cultural anthropology from Roskilde University, RUC.
Here she chose to write her dissertation about the Greenlandic criminal law. Since then, the main thread in her working life has been the Greenlandic legal system. Besides studying in Denmark, she has been assisting guardian for sev eral Greenlandic inmates in Herstedvester prison, and she moved to Greenland after graduating.
“The desire to do research increased, so I ended up applying for a PhD grant at the Danish Council for Inde-pendent Research under the Ministry of Science, and got it in 2009. That was the beginning of my work here at Ilisimatusarfik, where I wrote my dissertation “The Institution – Imprisonment in Greenland”, which I defended in 2012”.
Annemette Nyborg Lauritsen was later employed in a research and teaching post at Ilisimatusarfik, which she is happy with. She greatly appreciates the opportunity to become deeply absorbed in the field she is so engrossed in. You are often alone within your field as a researcher at Ilisimatusarfik and that is why she is finding professional collaboration elsewhere. She participates, for example, in a Nordic group of researchers who is investigating how to handle conflicts and violations of the law within the Nordic island communities Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Åland Islands.
“These island communities are very different culturally and historically compared to how far they have come in terms of self-government/independence. At the same time, they share more traits with one another compared to the rest of the Nordic countries: small population living in secluded island communities. Small communities with a strong visibility and mutual dependence, and a daily life strictly bound to strong traditions. Conditions that may affect handling of conflicts, how violations of the law and influence on one’s own law policy are viewed”, says Annemette Nyborg Lauritsen about the focus of the research group.
It is the wish to crush certain myths and break down taboos, which is driving her research. She wishes to contribute, with her publications and communication of her research results, to a more qualified discussion about crimes, imprisonment and prisons in Greenland.
- Text Pia C. Bang / Apropos and photographer Ulrik Bang