Announcements, Call for papers

CFP Anthropoliteia-sponsored panel at the 2014 AAA Meetings

Long-time readers of Anthropoliteia may remember that some of the first “extra-curricular” iterations of the blog were at panels at the 2009 and 2010 Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association.  In my own humble estimation, these were extremely productive conversations, and not only because they resulted in an edited volume that was published by Palgrave Macmillan last year, of which we’re all extremely proud.

In that vein, and to broaden the conversation, we’ve decided to try sponsoring a panel on anthropoliteia-related issues this year.  If the experiment is successful, it may even become an annual thing.  Please read through the following CFP and consider offering an abstract.  Also, please pass this announcement on to anyone else that may be interested.

Call for Papers: Thinking through police, producing anthropological theory

For a session to be submitted to the 2014 Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association (Washington DC, December 3–7, 2014).  Dr. Kevin Karpiak (Eastern Michigan University), organizer.

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In the Journals

Special Issue of Anthropology News features two articles on Police

Although there’s been quite a bit of rumbling over the AAA’s “open access” policies over the last several years, one positive development IMHO has been to move the association’s newsletter, Anthropology News, to an online and OA format.

Police propaganda billboard advertising goals for building a “Peaceful and Healthy Society.” This photograph was taken in Taiwan in the early 2000s. Photo courtesy Jeffrey T Martin

Police propaganda billboard advertising goals for building a “Peaceful and Healthy Society.” This photograph was taken in Taiwan in the early 2000s. Photo courtesy Jeffrey T Martin

And now readers of this blog can benefit.  The most recent issue features several articles on the Anthropology of Law in its “In Focus” section, including two articles on the anthropology of policing: one from Anthropoliteia’s own Jeff Martin, entitled “How the Law Matters to the Taiwanese Police” and another by Jennie Simpson, a recent PhD from American University, “Building the Anthropology of Policing” (the latter featuring a short–and unexpected cameo from yours truly).

Personally, I’m super-psyched that the anthropology of policing is beginning to carve out a space in the larger world of anthropology.  Not only am I currently brainstorming how to incorporate these blog posts into my course on Policing in Society, but I’m secretly formulating a response to Jeff arguing that his use of my beloved Max Weber is all wrong!

Announcements, Conferences

Anthropoliteia at the American Anthropological Association Meetings (2010, NOLA version)

Since people seemed to find it helpful last year, I’ve decided to try and make A@AAA an annual feature.  So here you go, my annual round-up of police, crime and security events at this year’s American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings.  As always, if you know about a session or paper that I’ve missed, let me know in the comments section and I’ll add it to the list.

Wednesday, Nov. 17th





Thursday, Nov. 18th






Friday, Nov. 19th






Saturday, Nov. 20th



Sunday, Nov. 21st




Call for papers


(This CFP seems relevant to this dialogue about the utility of theorizing policing around a concept of culture)

Call For Papers — Proposed Session for AAA 2010

Does the culture concept have a place in anthropological understandings of a world increasingly defined and shaped by global circulations? Or, as decades of critique would wish it, can a concept of distinctive logics organizing human relations no longer hold water as the boundaries between the contexts and spaces in which those relations are negotiated become increasingly porous?  This panel will consider, in light of both the history of its critiques, and recent ethnographic work from diverse locations and positions, the continuing relevance of a concept of culture — taken as a distinctive logic organizing social relations, moral and political projects, collective histories and imagined futures — as anthropology responds to the apparent dissolution of spatio-temporal, social and communicative boundaries. To what extent does the culture concept rely on our capacity to identify bounded collectivities, or on the isolation of those collectivities from each other, their ignorance of a world outside their “own” world, or on the difficulty of people associating with more than one of them or moving between them? (To put it another way: must “cultural” context always be relatively presupposed, rather than entailed?)  What do prior theorizations of culture qua both difference and structure bring to our understanding of contemporary negotiations of the semiotic fields in which identity, alterity, and other sorts of projects come (or fail to come) into being?  As it proliferates as a form in circulation beyond anthropological discourse, what force does culture retain or accrue as context or pretext, social text or hypertext?  What pressure does the appearance of culture as a form in circulation place on our uses of culture as analytic frame?

Rather than seeing contemporary difficulties with deploying the concept of cultures as objects coterminous with geographically bounded social entities as an occasion for despair we see it as an opportunity for a productive untangling:  Is difference (especially difference marked by a boundary) essential to the culture concept or simply the context in which it was first noticed?  Need cultural “logics” be largely or partly unconscious to be powerful or is this a misguided analogy with linguistics? Need people have only one culture?  Are unit cultures but one historically specific way in which human semiotic life can be organized (as bands, empires, or states are historically specific ways of organizing human political life)?  Such untangling might let us continue to understand culture as the ground on which both alterity and alliance are negotiated regardless of the size and boundedness of the units involved, a use we see as faithful to its intellectual and political history, as well as one with a promising future on both fronts.  As a platform for — and as a form accompanying— people and projects in circulation, the analytic concept of culture may in fact be of greater importance than ever.

Please address inquiries and submissions, in the form of an abstract of no more than 250 words, as e-mail text or attachment, to session organizers:  Amy McLachlan (University of Chicago), or Daniel Rosenblatt (Carleton University), by Friday, March 26th.  In addition to an abstract, please also include your full name, contact information and institutional affiliation.

Feel free to circulate this announcement widely!


Studying Military, Security & Intelligence Communities Ethics Casebook by the American Anthropological Association

I don’t know how many of you have been following the machinations of the CEAUSSIC committee of the American Anthropological Association, but over the last several years they’ve been getting together to think through the admittedly thorny problem of the relationship between anthropologists and those involved in military, security and intelligence communities.  As an effort to step away from grand proclamations towards thinking about what actual anthropologists in actual situations do and the decisions they make, the committee is putting together a case book in anthropological ethics.  In fact, they’re looking for contributors:

We need more cases and are actively working our own networks to encourage our colleagues to provide material for the book. Rob Albro and I are spearhending this project. We have contacted friends and colleagues who work in federal agencies, but we are also interested in talking to anthropologists who self-identify as having some involvement in military, intelligence, or other forms of national security work, or who have studied or critiqued some form of national security practice. Rather than define “national security,” we are asking our contributors to tell us what that category means in their work-lives, because we think it is important that anthropologists in national security explain what this sweeping affiliation actually means. The cases must be grounded in real-world experience, even if the details are disguised; but to ensure anonymity, we are working collaboratively with our contributors to make appropriate, case-by-case decisions about publishing the contributor’s identities and disguising identifying details, such as precise places or institutions or names.

We expect to publish this case collection as a set of discussion materials for use in classrooms. We are also talking with other AAA committees involved in ethics to develop mechanisms for expanding and maintaining grounded conversations about ethics, perhaps in the form of an ethics blog, an annual update to the casebook which we hope to be made available online, or regular sessions at the Annual Meetings where we can present and debate particularly provocative or timely cases. We are also open to any creative suggestions about how maximize the relevance of this casebook, as a point of reference in ongoing disciplinary discussion on ethics, disciplinary practice, and security.

via CEAUSSIC: Ethics Casebook « American Anthropological Association.

Now, on the one hand, this seems an exactly appropriate move.  On the other hand, I find interesting the lack of involvement in these discussions (at least so far, as far as I know) by any of us who understand ourselves as working on “the police”.

I’m just thinking on my feet a bit here, but I can come up with a few reasons why this might be:

  1. Demographics.  People who are part of these conversations tend to be already firmly established in the field–it’s unlikely that a junior scholar (which all of us are) gets asked to be a part of such things, and conversely, it’s not really the kind of thing junior scholars are burning to be a part of–careers aren’t exactly made on ethics committees.
  2. Conceptualizing “police” and “security”.  The problem with possibility #1 is that there’s no “old-school” police studiers either (although who that might include, I think, is a good question).  This suggests the much more interesting possibility that the lack of police-studiers has more to do with an as-yet (as far as I can tell)  unremarked contour of the ethical problem itself–an ethical element that distinguishes the types of violence the police use, and/or anthropologists’ relationship to it, versus the military.  I haven’t quite got my finger on what that might be, but I think it might be an interesting place to try to work through the particular stakes of “anthropoliteia”…
  3. No good reason.  Of course, perhaps I’m over-thinking this and one of us should offer to contribute to the casebook


Announcements, Conferences

Panels on Policing & Security at the 2009 American Anthropoligical Association Annual Meetings

I’ve compiled a list of panels and individual papers on security and policing-related issues at the upcoming AAA meetings.  You can see them below.

I’d like to give a special shout-out to the panel THE END/S OF POLICING: ETHNOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVES ON POLICE POWER (Fri., 8:00-9:45 AM in rm 406) organized by the newest anthropolitician, William Garriott of James Madison University, also featuring myself, Michelle Stewart, Thom Chivens, Eva Harmon and Mindie Lazarus-Black of Temple University.  It should be good times.

Other than that, the following look interesting (panels are in bold):

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Announcements, Conferences

Anthropoliteia at the American Anthropological Association’s 2009 Annual Meetings, pt. 1

As we get closer to this years Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association, I’ll be calling our attention to several of the police & security-related panels and events that will be a part of the “festivities.”

As I’ve already mentioned in the latest edition of Anthropolitieia In the News, one of these events will be a roundtable discussion with several of the authors of Cultural Anthropology‘s recent “virtual issue” on security.  The roundtable, entitled “Thematizing Security,” will be held Friday December 4th at 12:15pm and will discuss the “future of critical, cultural studies of security”.  Discussion participants will include Didier Fassin, Ilana Feldman, Andrew Lakoff, and Joseph Masco


Anthropoliteia In the News (through 11/13/09)

To quote Timbaland, “It’s been a long time/ Shouldn’t have left you / without a dope beat to step to”

That’s right, it’s time for one more pre-AAA Annual Meetings edition of Anthropoliteia In The News.

Cultural Anthropology & Security

Thanks in part to one of our co-Anthropoliteia-ers, Michelle Stewert (along with Vivian Choi), we not along can enjoy a special “virtual issue” of the journal Cultural Anthropology on the theme of “security” but we can look forward to a discussion with several of the authors at this years Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association.  The event will be called “Thematizing Security” and will be held Friday December 4th at 12:15pm.  Discussion participants will include Didier Fassin, Ilana Feldman, Andrew Lakoff, and Joseph Masco

Policing the Rio Olympics

In the wake of being awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics, a violent outburst between police and drug gangs which left two dozen dead has garnered increased international scrutiny for Rio police forces, NPR reports.  Chief among the Rio police’s strategies are community-policing style attempts to integrate the police force into the poorest and most troubled areas.

Whether these strategies will actually reduce violence is unclear.  As one woman lamented,   “The violence you are seeing on TV which happened last weekend you have almost every day. If not in this favela, you have it in another favela.

“Nation’s Top Cop”

Former Boston, New York City–and now Los Angeles–police chief Bill Bratton stepped down from his position as the nation’s “top cop”  in order to work for a private security consulting agency.  Bratton has been closely associated with both the “zero tolerance” and “broken windows” philosophies of urban policing. On his last day he addressed the LAPD via radio dispatch, repeating his motto, “cops count, police matter” to the listening troops.

(Not) Famous Last Words

Claire Cameron at the New York Times wrote a haunting piece using the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s database of death row executionee’s last words.

The Clock Is Ticking

Anthropoliteia-er Meg Stalcup writes, over at On the Assembly of Things, about the release, by the US Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, of “The Clock Is Ticking,” a progress report on what has happened with the recommendations made in the 2008 World at Risk publication.