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

1:15pm

2:15pm

2:30pm

9:00-9:15pm

Thursday, Nov. 18th

8:00-9:45am

10:15am-12:00pm

1:45-3:30pm

4:30pm

5:05pm

Friday, Nov. 19th

8:00am

2:30-3:00pm

2:45pm

3:45pm

4:30pm

Saturday, Nov. 20th

10:15-10:30am

1:45-3:30

Sunday, Nov. 21st

8:00-9:45am

8:15am

8:30am

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L’anthropoliteia In the News (12-février-2012)

That’s right, since I haven’t done one of these in a while, since my stock of saved links has become overwhelming and since a string of news events this week has got my mojo running, I’ve decided to do a Franco-centric version of Anthropoliteia In the News… so here goes:

Pyjama-Gate

A teenage girl was held in police custody for anywhere, from 7 and a half to 11 hours, after being involved in a fight outside her school in the 20th arrondissement of Paris.  Police took her from her home without letting her change out of her pajamas, leading to the media explosion of what I’m calling “pyjama-gate”.

[rant button on]

As could probably be expected from these sort of media affairs, there has been a proliferation of punditry and position taking only tenusously connecting to reality or real political seriousness.  It looks like if there’s any real movement that results from this, it will involve re-examining the use of “garde a vue” detention practices by police officers.

On the other hand,  the obsessive repetition of the detail of the girl’s pajamas in the story seems completely non-random in a country that is going through a parallel obsession over of the burka/veil/hijab/head scarf/any-”ostentatious”-religious-sign.  If I were to try to bring the quickly accumulating scholarship on the veil controversy to bear on this issue, I would say that this is the flip side, or at least another angle on, the contradictions of French republican democracy as played out upon female bodies.

… so color me Joan W. Scott, with an important addendum: in the framing of the voice *against* state intervention, the state is imagined as police.  In the framing *for* state intervention, state as “protector of women” and “guarantor of secular equality” there are many governmental institutions imagined and invoked (school, post-office, bus drivers, banks) but almost never the police.  There’s an important point to be explored there…

[rant button off]

Survey on ethnic and racial composition of French police

As I’ve discussed over at my personal blog, a survey was published suggesting that almost 10% of French police are “issued from immigration” (itself a tricky term in need of significant unpacking). This was big news because, on the one hand, these kind state-run surveys of race & ethnicity are extremely rare and politically contentious in France; and, on the other, not many people thought the numbers would be even that high.

“Welcome to Le Jungle (again), now leave (again)”

First there was the Red Cross center at Sangatte, which housed immigrants looking to make their way from France to the UK.  Then, in 2002 this center was closed down, causing the quasi-organic  growth of a much-criticized quasi-detention center/refugee camp known as “Le Jungle”.  Then,  last September, this was also closed down and bulldozed over.  From this rubble, an organization known as No Border took over a wharehouse where it housed about 100 refugees from Afghanistan.  That is, until now.  The BBC reports that French police created a security perimeter and eventually moved in to expel the remaining activists and refugees.

The spokesman for Sarkozy’s UMP party defended the move by denouncing “the manipulation of migrants by anti-globalization associations…. [who] feed on human misery in order to defend their extreme ideology,” echoing vice-president of the Front nationale Marie Le Pen’s criticism of No Border as “facilitating illegal immigration through illegal and violent actions”.  For his part, former Socialist Prime Minister Laurent Fabius suggested that while France couldn’t naturalize everyone, those who couldn’t be accepted should be treated in a “more European” manner.

Quick Hits

  • TF1 News reports that, in the 2010 report of the Cour de Comptes, a sort of  budgetary and auditing office of the French government, the Police Nationale are criticized for its extravagant use of funds, especially around the use of unmarked police vehicles.  In addition to the sheer increase in number of the vehicles (1,469 in September 2008 versus 1,218 in January 2003), the court alleges that these vehicles are often “luxurious” and “over-equipped… to an unjustifiable degree” while at the same time they’re driven overly recklessly (each vehicle being involved in an accident on average every 15 months) and being requisitioned for the personal use not only of police officers, but former Presidents and Prime Ministers (read between the political lines here) as well.
  • On the other hand, the municipal police in Toulouse have been trying out the use of Segway vehicles, or “gyropodes” as they’re called in French.  This gave  Ladepeche.fr the opportunity to publish some killer stats, which include:
    • the total costs of these vehicles amounts to about 5 euros a day, calculating the electricity cost at about 2.50 euros per 1000 kilometers
    • policemen using the vehicle cover 9x the area, deploy 4x faster and have 15x the contact with the population (don’t ask me how the calculate that last one, especially because whatever that contact means it includes interacting with someone standing 20cm about the ground)
  • Even though they don’t directly refer to this specific 20cm, in an interview with Le Monde criminologists Sebastian Roché and Jacques de Maillard (who make frequent appearances in my own dissertation, both as solo acts and as a tag team) decry the increasing distance in France between police and the people they’re supposed to be policing.  The idea behind the police de proximité was not only a move towards preventative policing, but towards a less centralized and hierarchical structure within the police itself.
  • Finally, Claude Bartolone, deputy of the Socialist Party (PS), accused Minister of the Interior Brice Hortefeux of trying to create a  “police without policemen” through his use of video surveillance… Which,  those of us who have read too much Foucault, would say is of course kind of exactly the point

As always, if you have any news you’d like added, let me know in the comments section or contact me

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Deja vu all over again: the recurring problem of post-social policing in France

An update along the lines of our continued interest in policing “after the financial crisis”…

Le Monde reports that, come January 2010, there will be a full stop on the deployment of the unités territoriales de quartier (UTEQ), the socially-oriented policing groups developed by Nicolas Sarkozy after the banlieue riots of 2007 (and after he had virtually eliminated another socially-oriented style of policing, in 2002, known as the police de proximité).

The reason? Minister of the Interior Brice Hortefeux explains that he doesn’t have the means (“moyens”) to implement the program in light of the loss of 2,000 posts this year.  This doesn’t mean a complete loss of on-the-ground policing, however (the translation is my own):

Le rapport prône également l’élaboration d’un diagnostic “approfondi” dans chaque territoire et un “partenariat sérieux” avec les élus. Un tel scénario présenterait l’avantage de combler les trous, mais mettrait à bas la philosophie même du dispositif : être en contact régulier avec la population.

[The report also argues for a "deeper" diagnostic analysis in each territory, and a "serious partnership" with elected officials. This scenario has the advantage of filling the holes in the budget while having at its core the same philosophy: to be in regular contact with the population]

So we’re back to exactly the point we were at in 2002, when Sarozy dismissed the police de proximite as irresponsibly uneconomical even while those on the left emphasized that close contact with those being policed is essential for proper police work.

This is the “problem of a post-social police” that I wrote about in my dissertation (and which I’ve been trying to develop in an article I’ve been working on): how to devise a style of policing once the object to which its been oriented (which it helped create)–the social, as represented in a population–becomes only one in a larger array of governing objects?  This is the question police, and we as social scientists, still face and for which there are as yet no adequate answers…

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Anthropoliteia In the News 9/8/09

If you’ve  been so caught up in the story of the East Bay kidnapping uncovered by UC Berkeley police (for a cogent analysis, and some myth-busting regarding what parole can accomplish, see Jonathan Simon’s post over at Prawfsblog) that you haven’t had time for anything else, here’s another edition of Anthropoliteia In the News:

«Ceux qui sont fatigués, au revoir!»

Nicolas Sarkozy recently surprised a meeting of the departmental Cheifs of the Police Nationale and Gendarmerie, who thought they were merely meeting with Minister of the Interior Brice Hotrefeux, with an unannounced visit.  The reason for the suprise visit was the recent less-than-spectacular crime statistics, particularly in Loire.   These stats have been a bragging point for sarkozy over the last seven years.  The answer, according to sarkozy?  More work.  “Those of you who are tired, au revoir!”

But don’t be impolite about it.  The President of the Republic also reminded police officers to “respect the basic rules of courtesy” when dealing with youth, and not to immediately revert to using the (impolite and overly-familiar) “tu” form of address.

However…

Several French police unions have denounced as “overly aggressive” and “lying accusations” a televised report, and interview of Interior Minister Hortefeux, by M6 television reporter Mélissa Theuriau.

During a televised interview of Minister Hortefeux, Theuriau presented footage of a group of police officers forcing youth to the ground and suggested that such images “ridicule the police code of conduct.”

For his part Hortefeux suggested that the “presumption of innocence applies to police officers as well.”

In the space of security, police are the opposite of culture?

Or is the metric at play here that of “sublty” ?

Simon Reid-Henry has an interesting review of the new edited volume by geographers Alan Ingram and Klaus Dodds, Spaces of Security and Insecurity: Geographies of the War on Terror in Times Higher Education:

spacesofsecurityWhile some states are being broken up into ever less state-like parts, making intervention an easier task, others are busy hardening their borders through the securitisation of immigration and asylum legislation. This geographical unevenness in the manner and extent to which security is pursued through territorial proxy is sustained by cultural processes that normalise some definitions of security as they disavow others. This book is especially welcome for the way it picks apart this process. In doing so, it shows that if security has become perhaps the dominant paradigm of the War on Terror in Western states, it is based not only upon expanded police powers and identity cards but also on a raft of more subtle cultural practices that respond to and inform actual political events.

Police cars are not green

Over at Cop in the Hood, Peter Moskos doesn’t lament Ford’s decision to stop manufacturing Crown Vic’s, the industry-standard in American cop cars,  by 2011.   The whole affair does lead Moskos to inquire into the cost of operating such cars, and suggest that more green alternatives could be incentivized by offering cops who choose to patrol on foot $20-50 more per shift.

Mass Incarceration News

  • The California state Assembly watered down a bill intended to ease the state’s budget crisis by redusing the prison population. The stripped-down version of the bill will reduce the prison population by 17,000 inmates by next June instead of 27,000.  The saving will go from an estimated $300 million this year instead of the estimated $520 million.
  • Additionally, Jonathan Simon wonders whether more federal stimulus money for police officers will mean more people incarcerated (despite the state’s stated goal).  Simon’s answer? “Of course the law professor’s answer is “it depends.”  It depends on how those police officers view their job.”
  • Despite this, Simon suggests (or perhaps “hopes”) that mass incarceration might be the “new SUV,” meaning that it’s cultural profile could be in the process of “flipping”
  • Which is good news, because Chino prison just had one of the state’s biggest race riots in years.
  • Peter Moskos offers some pretty, if not exactly novel, graphs from the Justice Policy Institute of skyrocketing U.S. incarceration rates

[Insert requisite taser post]

Radley Balko at Reason Magazine offers an indictment of cop-based reality shows, especially TLC’s new Police Women of Broward County:

The most obvious criticism of these shows is their exploitation and general tackiness. Police work is reduced to clownish pranks, adrenalin-inducing raids, and telegenic lady cops edited to invoke S&M fantasies for the shlubs watching at home. No one expects much dignity from cable networks, but you’d think, for example, that the Broward County Sheriff’s Department might object to the sexualization of its female officers, or to a national ad campaign insinuating that they’re sporting itchy Taser fingers….

Cop reality shows glamorize all the wrong aspects of police work. Their trailers depict lots of gun pointing, door-busting, perp-chasing, and handcuffing. Forget the baton-twirling Officer Friendly. To the extent that the shows aid in the recruiting of new police officers, they’re almost certainly pulling people attracted to the wrong parts of the job.

One of the tag lines for TLC’s new show is “There’s always a good time to use a Taser.”

This Week in Anthropoliteia History

25 years ago this week Alec Jeffreys discovered DNA fingerprinting

The South Pacific, Water… and police

In writing an expose about Fiji bottled water for Mother Jones magazine, Anna Lenzer runs in to some trouble with the police

Moments later, a pair of police officers walked in. They headed for a woman at another terminal; I turned to my screen to compose a note about how cops were even showing up in the Internet cafés. Then I saw them coming toward me. “We’re going to take you in for questioning about the emails you’ve been writing,” they said.

What followed, in a windowless room at the main police station, felt like a bad cop movie. “Who are you really?” the bespectacled inspector wearing a khaki uniform and a smug grin asked me over and over, as if my passport, press credentials, and stacks of notes about Fiji Water weren’t sufficient clues to my identity. (My iPod, he surmised tensely, was “good for transmitting information.”) I asked him to call my editors, even a UN official who could vouch for me. “Shut up!” he snapped. He rifled through my bags, read my notebooks and emails. “I’d hate to see a young lady like you go into a jail full of men,” he averred, smiling grimly. “You know what happened to women during the 2000 coup, don’t you?”

Are police human?

I understand that edited pieces, such as special issues of journals, by their very nature can’t be exhaustive in their scope.  However, Daedalus‘s special issue “on being human,” an off-shoot of the National Humanities Center’s project of the same name, offers nothing coming close to a discussion of anthropoliteia, let alone any full-on consideration of police.

There would seem some work for us to do here: to include discussion of policing into STS-dominated discussions of “the human”.  How has the chasm between Aristotle (“man as that human animal with the additional capacity for politics”), or even Montesquieu, and the present moment opened up so wide as to make discussions of the human without politics seem plausible?

Foucault Lectures now on you iPod

Certainly one of the culprits people might point to for that transition is Michel Foucault and his discussion of biopower (“For millennia, man remained what he was for Aristotle: a living animal with the additional capacity for political existence; modern man is an animal whose politics places his existence as a living being in question”).

I don’t necessarily buy that though.  Luckily we can go to the audio to try to resolve it…  Mp3 versions of Foucault’s famous lectures, some of them in English, have been made available via UC Berkeley’s Media Resources Center.  These include such anthropolitiea-related classics as “Sécurité, territoire, population” and “Il faut défendre la société”.

Citations Mentioned

Rose, H., & Rose, S. (2009). The changing face of human nature Daedalus, 138 (3), 7-20 DOI: 10.1162/daed.2009.138.3.7
Gazzaniga, M. (2009). Humans: the party animal Daedalus, 138 (3), 21-34 DOI: 10.1162/daed.2009.138.3.21
Pippin, R. (2009). Natural & normative Daedalus, 138 (3), 35-43 DOI: 10.1162/daed.2009.138.3.35
Hacking, I. (2009). Humans, aliens & autism Daedalus, 138 (3), 44-59 DOI: 10.1162/daed.2009.138.3.44
Darwin, C. (2009). Comparison of the Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals–continued Daedalus, 138 (3), 60-67 DOI: 10.1162/daed.2009.138.3.60
Ritvo, H. (2009). Humans & humanists Daedalus, 138 (3), 68-78 DOI: 10.1162/daed.2009.138.3.68
Harpham, G. (2009). How do we know what we are? The science of language & human self-understanding Daedalus, 138 (3), 79-91 DOI: 10.1162/daed.2009.138.3.79
Appiah, K. (2009). Experimental moral psychology Daedalus, 138 (3), 92-102 DOI: 10.1162/daed.2009.138.3.92

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Anthropoliteia In the News 7/25/09

The Henry Louis Gates Affair

Besides the fiasco that occurred in and outside the home of prominent Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.– and that’s been burning up the news wires, television talk show circuit and radio waves (and being covered more exhaustively by our own Brian Lande, or socdeputy to you all)–there’s actually been some other news in the world…

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, anthropologist and crime fighter

Topping off any blog on the anthropology of policing is news that UC Berkeley anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes was instrumental in the uncovering of a kidney-trafficking ring in New York and New Jersey.  Scheper-Hughes reportedly provided FBI officials with the name, address and phone number of Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, who appearently promised Moldovan villagers manual labor jobs in the U.S. before coercing them into “donating” their kidneys.  Both Somatosphere and Savage Minds have more extensive coverage of the affair, including an extensive audio interview between Scheper-Hughes and WNYC’s Brian Lehrer (at Somatosphere).

The View from France

Although French news wasn’t immune from the affair that burned up this side of the Atlantic, several other issues made note this week:

  • New French Minister of the Interior Brice Hortefeux announced the forthcoming unification of three police departments (Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne) under the control of the Prefect of Paris.  The move, which has historical precedent, is due in large part to response problems during the series of banlieue riots that have occurred outside Paris over the last several years.  At least one police union, SGP-FO, has applauded the move.
  • The controversy over the non-lethal arm known as the Flash-ball continues.  This week Stéphane Gatti, the father of the man injured in the Parisian suburb of Montreuil (see last week’s In the News), circulated an open letter on the internet denouncing police use of the arm.  In response, the Green Party proposed a law which would outlaw the use of the flash-ball, a move which quickly drew a response from all three major police unions.
  • French recruits to the Police Nationale are finding, increasingly, that the language of Moliere is no longer sufficient for conducting their everyday work.   What happens when a flic needs a Polish translator?  Eric from the blog Police Nationale Recruitement has some interesting insights.
  • This all is as news has come out that recruitment of all gardien-de-la-paix agents for next year will be canceled, for the first time ever.  the Minister of the Interior cites budget deficits, while union leaders point out that this will cause administrators to rely more on the less-paid, less-trained, less-job secure adjoints de sécurité (and more heavily minority-staffed) to do the same job.
  • Maurice Grimaud, Prefect of Paris during the May 1968 uprising, died.

“How many volts would you like with your waffle?”

Continuing our discussion of the use of tasers by police forces around the world, several officers from Gwinnett County Georgia find themselves in hot water after the appearently tased their waffle house waiter, whom they had repeatedly “teased” in previous encounters. “Miles told investigators that he only “spark tested” the Taser near the employee’s back “just to scare him a little bit,” according to the internal investigation file,” the Atlanta Constitution-Journal reports.

Police Tech

Other police technologies were also in the news.

  • The Economist has an article on using an underground radar system to locate illegal drug traffic at the border
  • British police canned a text-messaging program after it recorded an average of only 3 messages per day since its inception in March
  • The police of Seine-Saint-Denis, outside of Paris, will soon be equipped with individual mini-cameras which will be mounted on their ear and be about the size of a bluetooth device.
  • The Maryland Transportation Administration, provider of public transportation in the land of The Wire, announced, and then retracted, its desire to use microphones to record all conversations of trains and buses…
  • …while the town of Tiburon, CA announced that it will photograph every car that comes through town, and then use the license plate information to solve crimes. “As long as you don’t arrive in a stolen vehicle or go on a crime spree while you’re here, your anonymity will be preserved,” said Town Manager Peggy Curran. “We don’t care who you are and we don’t know who you are.”

Security before it happens

Friend of this blog and uber-cosmopolit anthropologist Limor Darash has an article in the new American Ethnologist in which she outlines the assemblage of biosecurity/threat responses she calls a “pre-event configuration.”  You can read more about it at Vital Systems Security.

“A bad economy is not good for the murder rate”

In what should be a surprise to no one, a team of researchers plan to publish a study in The Lancet that show that murder rates in the EU go up at a rate of about .8% for every 1% increase in unemployment.  As a result, the team suggests that social and economic services might, in fact, save lives: “The analysis also suggests that governments might be able to protect their populations, specifically by budgeting for measures that keep people employed, helping those who lose their jobs cope with the negative effects of unemployment, and enabling unemployed people to regain work quickly. We observed that social spending on active labour market programmes greater than $190 per head purchasing power parity mitigated the effect of unemployment on death rates from suicides, creating a specific opportunity for stimulus packages to align labour market investments with health promotion.”

Police Locally

In more local news (well, local to some of us) UC Berkeley finally named its new police chief.  Assistant Police Chief Mitch Celaya will take over on August 1st from UCPD Chief Victoria Harrison, who is set to retire.  Ceyaya, a member of the UCPD since 1982, had been one of two finalists (along with David Kozicki, deputy chief for the Oakland Police Department) for the position.

In a June interview, Celaya gave a broad outline of his philosophy for policing Berkeley: “Besides loving my job, the campus culture, and the communit…. I am in tune to the culture and what people expect from the department. I would like to enhance the interactions with the student community. Some students feel that they have not developed relationships with us and we want to change that, working with the Associated Students of UC Berkeley and setting up mentor groups.”

Gates redux

And just in case you still haven’t got enough of the Henry Louis Gates Jr story:

  • The New York Times has an interesting article on the training police officers receive in order to handle verbal abuse and insults in tense situations–and whether or not such training is helpful
  • Peter Moskos, at Cop in the Hood, has a post detailing the technique, apparently used in the gates case, whereby a police officer invites an emotionally-charged individual outside, where he is then arrested for disorderly conduct.
  • Jonathan Simon (of Governing Through Crime) offers some historical context, over at PrawfsBlawg, for the Gates affair before considering whether obama should use this as a “teaching moment” as gates has suggested.  Simon’s answer?  Probably not.
  • Finally, the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s blog, Brainstorm, has two articles of note on the issue.  One by anthropologist John L. Jackson Jr., which attempts to “connect dots between Gatesian accusations (of race-thinking) and a cop’s defense (of colorblindness and racial neutrality)” and another post, which offers a passage written by Gates himself in 1995, which tries to explain how police are perceived in black communities: “It’s a commonplace that white folks trust the police and black folks don’t. Whites recognize this in the abstract, but they’re continually surprised at the depth of black wariness. They shouldn’t be. …Wynton Marsalis says, “My worst fear is to have to go before the criminal-justice system.” Absurdly enough, it’s mine, too.”

Citations Available Online

SAMIMIAN-DARASH, L. (2009). A pre-event configuration for biological threats: Preparedness and the constitution of biosecurity events American Ethnologist, 36 (3), 478-491 DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1425.2009.01174.x

Stuckler, D., Basu, S., Suhrcke, M., Coutts, A., & McKee, M. (2009). The public health effect of economic crises and alternative policy responses in Europe: an empirical analysis The Lancet, 374 (9686), 315-323 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)61124-7

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