Dr Gabrielle Watson elected to the first Visiting Fellowship in Law at Cambridge Centre for Criminal Justice

Dr Gabrielle WatsonDr Gabrielle Watson has been elected to the first Visiting Fellowship in Law at the newly-instituted Cambridge Centre for Criminal Justice, following a nomination from Professor Nicola Padfield QC (Hon), the Centre Director and Master of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Gabrielle will take up this Fellowship in summer 2019 in association with the Faculty of Law and Trinity College, Cambridge.

The Cambridge Centre for Criminal Justice was established in January 2016 and brings together scholars researching all aspects of criminal justice (broadly conceived). While at Cambridge, Gabrielle will continue work on her second book, Keywords: Linguistic Ambiguity in the Criminal Trial, and lead a research seminar on this theme.

Gabrielle commented, ‘The criminal trial is a process whereby the defendant is called to answer allegations of wrongdoing. But it is also much more than a diagnostic procedure. Through a close reading and interpretation of academic discourse, court judgements, sentencing remarks and policy documentation, I show how ethical terms such as ‘fairness’, ‘decency’, ‘dignity’ and ‘respect’ are elusive but of persisting significance.

‘It is well-established that language is not merely a descriptive tool but a generative one: our linguistic choices have the capacity, at least, to condition our relations to others. It has gone unnoticed that this idea might assume special significance in the context of the criminal trial, where the asymmetries of power between state and subject are especially pronounced.

‘I am most grateful for the opportunity to develop my work-in-progress at the Cambridge Centre for Criminal Justice, which has swiftly established itself as a site of cutting-edge scholarship and debate. I look forward to drawing upon the expertise of leading scholars there.’

Gabrielle is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Faculty of Law and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Law at Christ Church, Oxford. Her first book, Respect and Criminal Justice, is forthcoming in 2019 with Oxford University Press, and her Visiting Fellowship in Law at Cambridge is generously funded by the Leverhulme Trust.