Thomas Mathiesen's professional autobiography Cadenza is now available from EG Press. We think it is brilliant, but you would expect that. So what are others saying about it?
In radical criminology, Thomas Mathiesen is the oppositional thinker non plus ultra – the scholar-activist who gave us the concepts of “the competing contradiction” and “the unfinished” and showed us how to deploy them in radical penal reform. In this compelling memoir, Mathiesen traces the intellectual, institutional and personal struggles out of which these concepts emerged. A singular work by a singular sociologist.
David Garland, author of The Culture of Control
Thomas Mathiesen’s academic and activist lifework coincides with the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control’s core activities and principles since its 1973 foundation in Florence, which Mathiesen attended and to which he has been dedicated ever since. His lifelong combination of research and activism, through both the prisoners’ rights movement KROM, part of the groundwork for the European Group, and otherwise, is here rigorously documented in a most inspired and engaging way. This book will be a huge inspiration for ongoing efforts, struggles and work yet to come within Mathiesen’s main focus areas; most importantly through the science of opposition, abolitionism, action research and perspectives from below. This book tells the history of prison abolitionism and fights for social justice, primarily in Norway, covering victories and achievements, including abandoning forced labour and the vagrancy act, while pointing out future directions in a way that makes us see not only the necessity, but also the possibility, of a more just society
Ida Nafstad, Co-ordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control
Not only a fascinating account of the professional life of a distinguished Norwegian criminologist and socio-legal scholar, but also an inspirational account of his research and the political activity arising from it in ‘defence of the weak’: not only prisoners but also others threatened by excesses of state power and neglect. Thomas Mathiesen calls for a revival of the approach that he and Nils Christie championed in Scandinavia, namely to promote criminology as a ‘distinctly oppositional activity’, the goal of which should be not simply to recommend reforms but to work to bring them to fruition through political activity and ultimately to eliminate the prison from the armoury of the state.
Roger Hood, Professor Emeritus of Criminology, University of Oxford
his book provides a fascinating insight into the singular career of one of the world’s best-known sociologists working on questions of penal and social control. Weaving the personal with the political, the local with the international, Thomas Mathiesen recounts his long experience as participant-observer of the key social trends of the last seventy years, showing how the field of sociology can have a concrete influence on the real world.
Emma Bell, Professor of British Politics, Université de Savoie Mont Blanc
Mathiesen is a transgressor amongst transgressors, a noble subversive amongst subversives. His is an ‘unfinished’ (his term) call to action, like this splendid autobiography which will never ‘finish’ to inspire us and the future generations.
Vincenzo Ruggiero, Middlesex University, author of Penal Abolitionism
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