Innovative research project seeks to conceptualise how hate crime is tackled in India

Kent Law School Professor Amanda Perry-Kessaris, a pioneer of design-based strategies in sociolegal research, has been awarded £4.5k for an innovative project that seeks to conceptualise how hate crime is tackled in India.

In India, Professor Perry-Kessaris says hate crime is on the rise; official recording of individual instances of hate crime is systematically avoided or delayed; independent efforts to record and report hate crime have been closed down; and hate crime is left out of national crime statistics.

Professor Perry-Kessaris’s project called ‘Evidencing and Combatting Hate Crime in India: Concepts, Mindsets and Processes‘ is a collaboration with Mohsin Alam Bhat, Assistant Professor at Jindal Global Law School, and Joanna Perry, an independent hate crime consultant. It is funded by a grant of £4,580 from the Society of Legal Scholars Research Activities Fund and builds on the work of a previous study, led by Joanna, called Facing All the Facts. Facing all the Facts sought to support and accelerate the process of making hate crime conceptually and empirically visible in six European countries (Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK). Professor Perry-Kessaris, who advised on the design elements of the methodology used in Facing all the Facts, will work with her collaborators to retest, enhance and disseminate the insights and methodology beyond European contexts through a two-day workshop in Delhi with academics and civil society actors from across India. They aim to engage attendees in design-driven activities, such as collaborative prototyping, in order to co-create a shared understanding of how hate crime is currently reported, recorded and responded to in India. In doing so, it is hoped participants will begin to shift their mindsets towards thinking of themselves as an actual/potential system.

In their forthcoming article (to appear in Social and Legal Studies) ‘Enhancing participatory strategies with designerly ways for sociolegal impact: Lessons from research aimed at making hate crime visible in Europe’ Social and Legal Studies’Professor Perry Kessaris and Joanna Perry detail how the use of collaborative prototyping focuses minds at the intersections between the ‘actual’ and the ‘potential’ and generates shared spaces for understanding and reflection. For example, the illustration below (by Professor Perry-Kessaris) shows how practitioner participants in the Delhi workshop might experiment with paper, string and an adhesive wall to prototype actual/potential hate crime reporting and recording systems across India; or academic participants might prototype scholarly discourse.

With the support of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, Professor Perry-Kessaris is completing a monograph entitled Doing Sociolegal Research in Design Mode for publication by Routledge in 2020. This builds on her Sociolegal Model Making project, on her innovative approach to postgraduate research methods training (for which she was runner up for the Kent Social Science Faculty Teaching Prize), and on a number of smaller projects at intersection of law visual methods and culture such as the Pop-Up Museum of Legal Objects (2017), ‘What can graphic design reveal about law?’ (2014) and Thinking into | about practice.  She has previously completed two major empirical studies in India, covering access to environmental justice and foreign investment. She teaches undergraduates in the field of International Economic Law and postgraduates in Research Methodology