In the Journals

In The Journals – February 2015

Weteye MK116 Mod O Nonpersistent GB Chemical Bomb - March 1964

Welcome back to In the Journals, a now monthly sweep of recent academic publications examining security, crime, policing and the law. As the slow winter months come to a close, we hope you can find some time before Spring to get some reading in. Here are some of the articles of interest to us, that we thought we should share with you.

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Announcements

Anthropoliteia welcomes Sean Miller, new co-editor of In the Journals

The Editors of Anthropoliteia are pleased to introduce our new team member, Sean Miller, who will be taking on co-editing responsibilities (along with the David Thompson) for the In The Journals feature.

Sean currently a Masters student in anthropology at the School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies at the University of Ottawa, having earned a B.A. from Concordia University in Montreal. His work focuses on the perspectives on gentrification of residents of South Brooklyn with regards to their neighborhood, following the developments surrounding recent residential and commercial building developments in the surrounding neighborhoods of Clinton Hill, Williamsburg, and Bedford-Stuyvesant. His research interests, apart from gentrification, include governance, inequality, representation, and popular culture.

Having Sean on board will allow us to increase the frequency of ITJ to a monthly series, which will also allow us expand the scope and depth of our coverage.

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DragNet

DragNet: February 9 – 22, 2015

Is America ready for an NYPD cop show with a Muslim twist? In my favorite post of the month, Wajahat Ali recounts the inspiration, hilarity and first steps of writing the pilot script of MJ for HBO.

Is America ready for an NYPD cop show with a Muslim twist? In my favorite post of the month, Wajahat Ali recounts the inspiration, hilarity and first steps of writing the pilot script of MJ for HBO.

What do women bring to police command positions? Decentralized leadership, partnership and transparency, according to Lieutenant Colonel Nadia Rodrigues Silveira Gerhard. We shared Professor Lenin Pires’ interview with Gerhard earlier this month as she is the first woman to take on a leadership position in Rio Grande do Sul’s military police. Pires works as an anthropologist with the Public Safety Department of Fluminense Federal University. Be sure to catch more articles in Cultural Anthropology‘s Protesting Democracy in Brazil series here.

When there’s something strange about an officer’s demeanor, who you gonna call? This is precisely the dilemma Lisa Mahon faced. Don’t miss her interview with This American Life’s Ira Glass, titled “Cops See it Differently“. You can view the video footage (recorded by Joseph Ivy, who was also in the car during the confrontation) referenced during the interview here.

In shocking news, Republicans and Democrats appear to agree on one thing lately: reducing federal prison costs. In an effort to lower recidivism, the crime rate AND federal prison system costs, H.R. 759 is quickly gaining bipartisan support. Also known as the Recidivism Reduction Act, the evidence-based measure would serve to connect eligible inmates with recidivism reduction programs. There, inmates could earn credits toward “alternative custody arrangements” to lower the amount of dollars otherwise being spent to house them within the federal system.

It’s no wonder the script for the first half of MJ has generated such an overwhelming internet response. The co-creation of Al Jazeera‘s Wajahat Ali and author Dave Eggers, MJ isn’t your typical cop show…it’s a cop show with a Muslim twist. In my favorite post of the month, Ali recounts the inspiration, hilarity and first steps of writing the pilot script for HBO. The only bummer comes toward the end, when you realize MJ hasn’t yet made it to TV (why, we ask, WHY?!). Feel free to peruse the piece, available here, and freer to clamor for Hollywood to make this show happen (Ali even entertains the idea of revamping it Walking Dead style if all else fails…)

In the aftermath of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, I’ve been surprised to hear several officers insist that citizen education about how to interact with officers would reduce such tragic encounters. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that at least one city has recently made baby steps in this direction. This month we shared ML Schultze’s post, which covers Akron’s first-of-its-kind “crib sheet”; detailing the do’s and don’ts of officer-citizen interactions. The sheet was created by high school students with assistance from the city’s police department. The question is, will other departments follow suit?

Did I miss something? No worries- it does happen on occasion. If you have any suggestions for DragNet, or if you want to call attention to a specific blog or article, send an email to anthropoliteia@gmail.com with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!

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DragNet

DragNet: January 26 – February 8, 2015

"I see how challenging the tour is to my class…they describe their discomfort of being the observers in what many liken to a human zoo," writes Ieva Jusionyte in my favorite post of the month.

“I see how challenging the tour is to my class…they describe their discomfort of being the observers in what many liken to a human zoo,” writes Ieva Jusionyte in my favorite post of the month.

It might be time for New York City’s Bill de Blasio to compare policing notes with Rafael Correa, writes Greg Grandin for The Nation. Ecuador’s president not only faced similar police-related challenges back in 2010, but managed to come out stronger than ever. Stay tuned to Anthropoliteia’s twitter feed for ongoing coverage of the NYPD-de Blasio fiasco.

What’s in a case study? The possibility that it is just that- a single set of potential results. Although police departments across the US are quickly adopting body-worn cameras, the results obtained by Rialto, CA’s pilot study are coming under scrutiny. New questions of interest include whether the verbal warnings (“You’re being recorded”) given by officers are the source of reduced citations, and whether any observed reductions in offenses will fade over time.

“I see how challenging the tour is to my class…they describe their discomfort of being the observers in what many liken to a human zoo,” writes Ieva Jusionyte in my favorite post of the month. Jusionyte demonstrates how the often “bland” classroom topics of theory and the criminal justice system take on new meanings when studied in the up-close-and-personal context of Florida State Prison. Jusionyte is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida.

Our loyal readers will recognize this familiar question posed by Dylan Kerrigan: Do police agencies need anthropologists? Kerrigan discussed issues raised by Anthropoliteia’s Jennie Simpson in his post for The Guardian Trinidad & Tobago last month. Perhaps a new question to ask is whether or not police agencies are ready to face “the cultural dynamics obstructing their innovation”.

Anthropoliteia was pleased to feature a “rebuttal” to the police-anthropologist question. Professor Wilson Pena-Pinzon’s post, “A Response to ‘Do Police Departments Need Anthropologists?'”, examines the flip-side of the police-anthropology coin by approaching it from a cross-cultural perspective. Pena-Pinzon is a professor and researcher for the Department of Anthropology at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the Escuela Colombiana de Carreras Industriales.

Finally, be sure to check out Anthropoliteia’s YouTube channel for new episodes in our interview series. Dr. A. Lynn Bolles sits with us to discuss police racism, violence and the actions of the 2014 AAA Meetings. Dr. Bolles is an affiliate faculty in the University of Maryland’s Anthropology, African American Studies, American Studies, Comparative Literature AND Latin American Studies departments (phew!).

Did I miss something? No worries- it does happen on occasion. If you have any suggestions for DragNet, or if you want to call attention to a specific blog or article, send an email to anthropoliteia@gmail.com with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!

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Practicum

A Response to “Do Police Departments Need Anthropologists?”

Sin violencia (1)

Without violence (message placed by a citizen). Riot police force in the march of August 29, 2013 in Bogotá, supporting march of the agricultural strike that Colombia experienced for several months. This strike was characterized by an excessive use of force in the countryside and in the cities: the police repression left a balance of 12 dead, 485 wounded and 4 missing persons (Photo by  Wilson Peña-Pinzón)

This month, Practicum would like to welcome Wilson Peña-Pinzón as a guest columnist. Wilson Peña-Pinzón is an anthropologist at the Universidad Externado de Colombia. He is writing his thesis for a MA in Political Studies from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Peña-Pinzón has developed research work around the historical understanding of the Colombian armed conflict through different points of social sciences view: death and power from conflict actors, social and politic memory around war and representations of this from the cinema. He has been professor at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the Escuela Colombiana de Carreras Industriales. He is currently professor and researcher at the Department of Anthropology at the Universidad Externado de Colombia and teaches courses on armed conflict and political anthropology.

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DragNet, Uncategorized

DragNet: January 13 – 25, 2015

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Despite nearly 2 decades separated from the things he loves by prison bars, it’s apparent that Agustin’s mind has kept memories of them in pristine condition.

NY Daily News‘ Juan Gonzalez‘ critique of Patrick Lynch kicked-off a series of posts covering the current NYPD-de Blasio scuffle. Some question whether Lynch’s “screaming and yelling” leads to better lives for officers, or merely more headaches.

While many have voiced concern about racist practices of NYPD, one group in particular has been rendered silent: minority NYPD officers. Heather Mac Donald recently interviewed several current and former minority NYPD officers about their experiences of racist police practices while both on and off-duty. These conversations update those Mac Donald originally conducted back in 2002.

If you’re a New Yorker, chances are you’ve heard a lot less people complaining about traffic citations over the past few weeks. About two-thirds less people, to be exact. With Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “perceived lack of support” for NYPD, the city’s largest police union has urged officers to retaliate by not arresting individuals unless it is absolutely imperative to do so. Read about the impact this directive has had on New York’s total arrest rate.

What does everyone get wrong about Charlie Hebdo and racism? Well, it’s complicated. But here’s a hint: it usually has to do with one of its two layers, according to Max Fisher of Vox.com. Get the full explanation about the magazine’s multidimensional message here.

Anthropoliteia shared a link to our newest entry in Interrogations, titled “A Lynn Bolles on Political Action at the 2014 American Anthropological Association Meeting“. Feel free to read the highlights from the interview, or catch the full length video here.

Last but not least (and, in fact, in my favorite post of the month) Bruno Renero-Hannan shares the stories of Agustin Luna Valencia. The latter served as mayor of San Agustin Loxicha, a Zapotec village, but has been incarcerated since 1996. Renero-Hannan beautifully reflects Agustin’s memories and love of animals as well as the tales that surround them according to the traditions of his village. Despite nearly 2 decades separated from the things he loves by prison bars, it’s apparent that Agustin’s mind has kept memories of them in pristine condition.

Did I miss something? No worries- it does happen on occasion. If you have any suggestions for DragNet, or if you want to call attention to a specific blog or article, send an email to anthropoliteia@gmail.com with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!

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Tip of the Cap

Surreptitious Creativities behind Living with Insecurity in a Brazilian Favela

We would like to welcome Ben Penglase in this latest edition of our monthly feature, Tip of the Cap.

My book, Living with Insecurity in a Brazilian Favela, examines the social production of insecurity in a poor neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, paying particular attention to how multiple, overlapping forms of urban violence impact the residents of a neighborhood that I call Caxambu.   I try to show how the neighborhood is experienced as a profoundly contradictory space. On the one hand, it is a place of social intimacy, pride, and creativity, reflecting the deep social ties that bind many of its residents and the years of work that they’ve put into building their homes, streets and alleys. Yet at the same time it is often a space of social marginalization and unpredictably lethal violence, reflecting how drug-trafficking and policing conspire to disorganize daily life.

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