School of Social and Political Science

Jennifer Fleetwood

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Women in the international cocaine trade

The thesis describes women's experiences of getting involved in and working in the international cocaine trade. Theoretically, this research engages with debates of structure/agency and theories of gender and offending.

My thesis is based on ethnographic research and interviews with imprisoned drug traffickers (men and women) in prisons in Quito, Ecuador.

I am grateful to the Dirección Nacional de Rehabilitación Social, Quito and the Programa de Estudios del Cuidad, FLACSO, Ecuador who facilitated access to prison.

This project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of Great Britain.

A summary of findings is available. Please e-mail me at the above address.


Dr Angus Bancroft, Professor Jan Webb (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Michele Burman (University of Glasgow).

Educational background

PhD (viva passed 25th July 2009), (Sociology), University of Edinburgh.

Msc by Research (Sociology), University of Edinburgh, February 2006.

MA (Honours) 2.1 Sociology and Scottish Literature, University of Edinburgh, June 2004.

Professional affiliations currently held

Peer Reviewer, Anthropology Matters

Post-graduate committee member, The British Society of Criminology Associate Post-graduate student, Scottish Centre for Research on Crime and Justice

Recent presentations and publications

Ionscan machines and drug mules: exporting justice, exporting human rights
Presented to The Common Sessions of Critical Criminology, University of Barcelona, April 2009.

Book review: Drogas, cárcel y género en Ecuador: La experiencia de mujeres mulas by Andreina Torres in Íconos: Revista de Ciencias Sociales, no. 33, Vol. 13 (1), January 2009.

Emotional work: ethnographic fieldwork in prisons in Ecuador
Paper presented at the Researching Hidden Communities symposium, University of Glasgow, 30th-31st October, 2008.

Just a job? Control and coercion in international mule work
Presentation at the Congreso Mundial de la Sociedad Internacional de Criminologia, Barcelona 20th-25th July 2008.

Gender and drug traffic: re-examining the role of the mule
Preliminary findings presented at the British Criminology Conference, London School of Economics, 18th-20th September 2007.

Sympathy for the devil: empathy, emotions and ethnography
Paper presented at the 2nd Symposium on Current Developments in Ethnographic Research in the Social and Management Sciences, Ethnographic Futures: Voice Politics and Representation, Keele University, 5-7th September 2007.

Prisoners and families: visiting in Ecuador
Short presentation to the Annual general meeting of Families Outside, Edinburgh, March 2007.

Ecuador, general prison information
Fact-sheet, Prisoners Abroad, London, 2007.…

Risking Research: subjectivity and risk in ethnographic research
Presentation; New Directions in Social Research Conference, University of Edinburgh, 3-4th May, 2007.

Research interests

Research interests

  • feminist theory and sociological perspectives on gender
  • criminological theories about gender and offending
  • globalisation and crime
  • women in the drugs trade and organised crime
  • critical criminology and cultural criminology
  • ethnographic, qualitative and narrative methods
  • feminist research and epistemology
  • reflexivity and emotions in research
  • risk and ethics in research.

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