Barry Godfrey Lecture

31 July 2019


Swan River Settlement - Eliza Jane Curry
Jane Eliza, Currie Panorama of the Swan River Settlement via Wikimedia Commons


A public lecture by Barry Godfrey, Professor of Social Justice, University of Liverpool and Russell Ward Visiting Professor, University of New England and 2019 UWA Fred Alexander Fellow.

Which worked best, the system of convict transportation or the British home convict service? Between 1850 and 1868 a natural experiment in punishment took place when men convicted of similar crimes could either serve their sentence of penal servitude in Britain or in Western Australia. For historians and social scientists, this offers the prospect of addressing a key question posed over two-hundred years ago by the philosopher, penal theorist, and reformer Jeremy Bentham, when he authored a lengthy letter entitled ‘PANOPTICON versus NEW SOUTH WALES’. Bentham, and subsequent generations of historians did not have the data to answer this question, but now we do. This lecture asks whether British convicts or Australian convicts had higher rates of reconviction; and how both Big Data and biographical research can help us to answer this question.

Barry Godfrey is Professor of Social Justice at the University of Liverpool and Russell Ward Visiting Professor at the University of New England. He began his academic career at Keele University, joining in 1995 as a junior lecturer and leaving as Professor of Criminology in 2011. His research focus lies in comparative criminology, particularly international crime history, desistence studies, and longitudinal studies of offending. He has published over a dozen books and approximately 70 articles. Recent publications include Young Criminal Lives: Life Courses and Life Chances from 1850 (Oxford, Clarendon, 2018) and Crime, Regulation and Control during the Blitz (Bloomsbury, London, 2016). Barry has attracted over $4 million in research funding, which has enabled him to build a team of established academics who work on digital histories, longitudinal studies of crime and imprisonment, the history of health, and resistance from offending. In recent years he has explored and published widely on Australian convict history. He is the Principal Investigator of the Digital Panopticon Project - a database which enables researchers to search millions of records from around fifty datasets, relating to the lives of 90,000 convicts from the Old Bailey.

Barry Godfrey is the 2019 UWA Fred Alexander Fellow.

The Fred Alexander Fellowship is dedicated to the memory of Professor Fred Alexander (1899-1996), the founding Head of the History Discipline (then Department) at The University of Western Australia.