The editors of Anthropoliteia welcome Johanna Römer with a Dossier in our From the Field section.
“The history of prisons in Spain?” a Catalan prison guard asked me, a man in his mid-forties, his hands resting on a heavy leather belt. “Everything has already been written. Our vocabulary, our forms of punishment – even the word cell itself, all come from Catholic and monastic practices.”
He turned to face the thick glass wall of the bunker.
“I spent years teaching…in law enforcement, in the private sector, and now I just want to be here, with these guys [inmates], where I can have peace and quiet,” he said, nodding towards a small group of men talking softly around a checked tablecloth whose color was imperceptible through the glass.
“Look at that. No one makes problems.”
While monitoring the inmates through the glass, the guard narrated other stories of prison work; but his last seemingly unremarkable comment, “no one makes problems,” stayed with me.
The topic of surveillance packed a powerful punch this month, with the court releasing documents regarding Stingray technology capabilities. After months of debate, the ACLU released previously sealed records regarding the cell phone-tracking tool in use by several departments. The publication comes nearly 3 months after initial buzz about the tool that circulated after a suspect’s phone was used by police to track him to his apartment prior to obtaining a warrant. The more notable specifics of the technology can be found here.
The problem of prison over crowding is presented by Alyse Berenthal’s article in Anthropology News this month. As an anthropologist interested in the ethnographic aspects of justice, Berenthal spent time working with people in self-help legal clinics. By restricting definitions of justice to the individual level, Alyse work offers insights to the pitfalls of an over burdened justice system.
The truth is in the data. The proof is in the series of graphs presented by Nicole Flatlow in Think Progress’ article about the existential growth of the US prison population. States like California are so over-populated with prisoners that courts have ordered that prisons take steps to reduce inmate populations. Local jails are feeling the pain of overcrowding, with large volumes of low-risk or offenders awaiting trial making up a large proportion of total prisoner populations.
Also in surveillance is Kirsten Weld’s post about the institutionalization of intelligence gathering by the US. From the Spanish-American War, to FDR’s administration, to the aftermath of 9/11: it becomes apparent that data mining is nothing new to the US’ administrative history. Whether or not the US has a right to act as “global policeman” has yet to be determined by both the law and its citizens.
Stingray technology was not the only cause of raised eyebrows this month. James Eyers of Financial Review put tap-and-go credit card technology under scrutiny in a post from earlier this month. Some departments are criticizing tap and go transactions; pointing to higher theft and break-ins by criminals looking for this specific type of credit card. Banks are standing by their anti-identification policies, stating that crime inevitably changes alongside technological innovations and they as a financial entity cannot be held accountable.
First shared in May, Mother Jones’ post by Katie Quandt was popular again this month. Entitled “What it’s like to visit your mother in prison on mother’s day”, Quandt reflects about the impact of her foster sister’s incarceration on her role as a mother. The article comes shortly after Sesame Street’s recent initiative to talk about challenges children with parents in prison face, citing that 1 in 28 children fall into this category (with that stat increasing to 1 in 9 children among African American children).
Have plans to lounge beachside this summer? If so, you can’t miss David Thompson’s “must read” journal articles for Spring 2014. Catch up on the latest in anthropology and policing in scholarly publications here.
Border Criminologies announced their recent initiative to first digitize and eventually physically document material works by UK immigrants. The archive is intended to act as a reminder of the creative process of individuals even during times of extreme stress and uncertainty. It serves to emphasize the role of material culture in criminology.
Should community policing lead the way in 2014? Steve Early advocates for this approach in In These Times pose on June 23rd. He attributes the more “reactive policing” approaches to post-9/11 emphasis on response. Would regular officer assignments result in higher reliability ratings from the public? Should community relationship building be instated to replace reactive responses?
June kicked off with a post by Scott Shafer of NPRNews regarding the drastic increase in California parole rates. Where previous years saw less than a 10% release rate for “lifers”, 2013 recorded a near doubling of this statistic. California governor Jerry Brown has reiterated that crime type is no longer as much of a determining factor for parole as is the level of threat an inmate poses to the community. For more about the parole increase, check out Matt Levin’s article about lifers freed from prisons as well as his timeline cataloging the history of California parole trends.
“To the radicalized youth who demonstrated in 14 Brazilian state capitals on May 15, the World Cup represents a fundamental flaw in the Workers’ Party (PT) project,” writes Rodrigo Nunes in a news post from Aljazeera. While your friends are busy blowing up your Facebook feed about the soccer of World Cup, Brazilians continue to show outrage that the event has brought their country few winners, but many losers. For more about the political implications of the World Cup, check out Werner Krauss’ article on the Huffington Post. Here, he dissects the event from a structural-ritual perspective. Anthropoliteia also featured a post from Meg Stalcup in our continuing coverage of the World Cup.
It’s not just police getting virtual these days- so are crime scenes. In a personal favorite post by Kashmir Hill of Forbes, Hill recounts the Internet trail left behind by Santa Barbara Shooter Elliot Rodger. The troubled youth produced several YouTube videos documenting his gradual decline into criminal violence.
What would Jeremy Bentham and Michel Foucault have to say about Lebanese prison systems? Yazan al-Saadi’s post on Al-Akhbar evokes this and other questions about surveillance and control. The original panopticon envisioned a top-down power structure wielded by authority figures over non-authority figures. In the context of Lebanese prisons, however, this concept is turned on its head as it is the prisoner who seemingly wields ultimate control. Also in surveillance, the wife of ex-IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre has requested a formal investigation by the US state department after sensitive information from a phone call with the US embassy appeared in a popular tabloid a few days later.
An unlikely economical analysis of police body mounted cameras appeared in The Motley Fool’s investing section. Ryan Lowery reflects on the potential profitability of the leading police tech companies (including TASER and L-3 Communications) that produce the majority of the equipment.
Issues of excessive force, surveillance and militarization come to a head in Kent Paterson’s post on CounterPunch. Using recent examples of militaristic responses by members of the Albuquerque police department, Paterson builds up to a broader discussion about the impact of police technologies on aggressive responses and use of force by US police departments.
Juvenile detention centers in California will be receiving $80 billion in coming months to rejuvenate current facilities. Several proposals for amenities and new features reinforce a community-based emphasis. Officials hope the restructuring will help to solidify rehabilitation as a prevailing theme.
Tina Dupuy authored an engaging piece about casual vs. institutionalized racism in AlterNet this month. Why does the US rally more readily against casual comments than it does to institutionalized forms of racism (such as the prison system)? And further, does/can one form of racism lead to the other?
“Ban them, ban them all with a carve out for hunting weapons,” says Scott Martelle from LA Times Opinion. Referring to his admittedly minority stance on gun control in America, Martelle proposes the next steps for eliminating gun violence in America.
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
- STEFAN LE COURANT — Names Written on the Wall: Understanding Graffiti in Alien Detention Places in France as part of the panel MIGRATORY SPACES OF INCLUSION AND EXCLUSION, Studio 3, Second Floor, Marriott
- DANIEL MAHER — Trash Talkin’ and Resurrectin’ Lawmen in Hell on the Border: African American Identity, Performance, and Representation in Fort Smith, Arkansas as part of the panel COUNTER-MEMORIES, Salon H, Third Floor, Marriott
- MEGAN CALLAGHAN (Bard College) — “Bricking the Peelers”: Children’s Challenges to the Police in Northern Ireland as part of the panel CIRCULATIONS OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY, Southdown, Fourth Floor, Sheraton
- JONATHAN PADWE (Yale University) — Remaking Ethnic Attachments by Fleeing the Police in Cambodia: Rethinking the Place of Jarai in Cambodia After the Refugees Have Moved On, as part of the panel ETHNIC LANDSCAPES AND LANDED ETHNICITIES: ATTACHMENTS, STOPPAGES AND CIRCULATIONS. (Salon H, Third Floor, Marriott)
Thursday, Nov. 18th
- BETWEEN GOVERNMENTALITY AND STATE COERCION: GOVERNING BODIES IN SPACE, Organized by YASSER MUNIF
- ILGIN ERDEM — Dis-Ordering the Urban Space: The Case of May Day Protests in Turkey
- YASSER MUNIF — Disciplinary Spaces and “Lawless Zones” in a French Suburb
- SWATI BIRLA — Revisiting Public and Private Space- Prostitution Regulation in Gujarat
- ERIKA MARQUEZ — Social Movements in the Security State: Territorial Struggles in Valle Del Cauca, Colombia
- PANAYIOTIS MANOLAKOS (Sanhati) — Primary Accumulation qua Developmental Terrorism: Meditations on Political Strategy
- INTERROGATING POLICE, Organized by ERIKA ROBB LARKINS (University of Wisconsin-Madison) & R BRIAN FERGUSON (Rutgers the State University of New Jersey-Newark) , Balcony M, Fourth Floor, Marriott
- R BRIAN FERGUSON (Rutgers the State University of New Jersey-Newark) — Killing Bill: Politics, Policing and Street Violence in the Gangs of New York Era
- AVRAM BORNSTEIN (John Jay College, City University of New York) — Policing, Race and “Color-Blindness” in the US
- ALDO CIVICO (Columbia University) — Policing as Cleansing: Gangs, Militias, and Death Squads in Medellin.
- ERIKA ROBB LARKINS (University of Wisconsin-Madison) — Men in Black and the Golden Gun: Maintaining Disorder in Rio’s Hyper Favela
- RIC CURTIS & TRAVIS WENDEL — Call the Policed: The Evolution of Police Tactics as Seen Through the Experience of Drug Distributors and Drug Users in New York City
- DISCUSSANT: NEIL WHITEHEAD (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
- COPS & CANONS: WHAT IS THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF POLICING AND WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?, Organized by KEVIN KARPIAK (Eastern Michigan University) & WILLIAM GARRIOTT (James Madison University), La Galerie 1, Second Floor, Marriott
- MICHELLE STEWART (University of California-Davis) — “Don’t Dare Me”: A Consideration of Interdisciplinarity and Reflexivity in Policing Practice
- JEFFREY MARTIN (University of Hong Kong) — The Culture of Policing
- BEATRICE JAUREGUI (University of Cambridge) — Police Postings as Cultural Politics: Forces and Relations of State Authority in Northern India
- MEG STALCUP (University of California-Berkeley) — The Battle of Algiers on Main Street: Anthropology and the Policing of Terrorism
- WILLIAM GARRIOTT (James Madison University) — Ethical Failure or Ethical Imperative?: “Lumping It” as Method in the Anthropology of Police
- JULIA HORNBERGER — From Free Health Care to the Care of the Criminal Self as part of the panel SHIFTING SOVEREIGNTIES: CIRCUITS AND COUNTER-CIRCUITS OF KNOWLEDGE,La Galerie 4, Second Floor, Marriott
- KARINA BIONDI (Universidad Federal de São Carlos) — The Political Model of a Collective of Prisoners in São Paulo, Brazil as part of the panel NEW DIRECTIONS IN POLITICAL THEORY, Studio 3, Second Floor, Marriott
Friday, Nov. 19th
- JENNIFER AENGST (University of California-Davis) — The Movements of Adolescents: Youth Policing and Secret Dating in Ladakh, India as part of the panel SEXUALITIES IN ‘OUT-OF-THE-WAY’ PLACES: TRACING INTIMACIES ACROSS BOUNDARIES, Salon 817 & 821, Eighth Floor, Sheraton
- BRIAN LANDE (University of California-Berkeley) & KEVIN KARPIAK (Eastern Michigan University) — ‘Taking the Field': Thinking ‘Police’ Through the Social Sciences, Thinking ‘Society’ Through Policingas part of the panel BUSINESS ENCOUNTERS: FIELDWORK CONVERSATIONSOrganized by TIMOTHY DE WAAL MALEFYT (BBDO & Parsons, The New School for Design), BRIAN MOERAN (Copenhagen Business School), Balcony N, Fourth Floor, Marriott
- BJORN BERTELSEN — Chamboco, Lynchings, Death Squads and Prisons. Social Ontologies of Violence, Sovereignty and Conflict in Chimoio, Mozambique as part of the panel CONFLICTS ON THE MOVE,Balcony L, Fourth Floor, Marriott
- ROBERT A RUBINSTEIN (Maxwell School, Syracuse University) — Back to the Future?: Peacekeeping and Imperial Policingas part of the panel CONFLICTS ON THE MOVE,Balcony L, Fourth Floor, Marriott
- JENNIFER GOETT (Michigan State University) — Afro-Descendants and Counternarcotics Policing in Multicultural Nicaragua as part of the panel AFRO-LATINO POLITICS: REASSESSING THE MULTICULTURAL TURN TWO DECADES AFTER REFORM, (Studio 1, Second Floor, Marriott)
Saturday, Nov. 20th
- KEVIN KARPIAK (Eastern Michigan University) — Use and Abuse of the Police in French Theory: Or, Uncanny Encounters With Foucault, Bourdieu and Many Others Among the Police Nationale as part of the panelFOUCAULT ET AL. FROM PARIS TO CALIFORNIA AND BACK AGAIN: THE CREOLISATION OF ‘FRENCH THEORY’organized by STEPHANIE LLOYD (McGill University), BAPTISTE MOUTAUD (INSERM), & LIVIA VELPRY (Cesames, University of Paris-Descartes), Grand Couteau, Fifth Floor, Sheraton
- THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF MASS INCARCERATION: GLOBAL ETHNOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVES ON PRISONS AND POLICING organized byANDREA MORRELL (City University of New York-Graduate Center), & STEPHANIE CAMPOS,Oak Alley, Fourth Floor, Sheraton
- KAREN WILLIAMS (City University of New York-Graduate Center) — From Social Control to “Caring”?: Imagining a ‘Kinder Gentler’ Prison System Under Neoliberalism
- STEPHANIE CAMPOS — Las Burriers: Incarceration & Gendered Work in Illicit Economies
- HOLLIS MOORE (University of Toronto) — The Permeable Prison and the Production of (Un)relatedness: Household Responses to Imprisonment in Northeast Brazil
- ANDREA MORRELL (City University of New York-Graduate Center) — “A Label Tightly Sewn on the Community”: Race, Justice, and the Making of a Prison Town
- LILIAN NYAMPONG — Micro Interactional Processes State/Human Rights Interventions: Ethnography of Everyday Experiences in Correctional Institutions
- DISCUSSANT: PEM BUCK (Elizabethtown Community and Technical College)
Sunday, Nov. 21st
- CIRCULATING TECHNIQUES OF GOVERNANCE: CRIME, INSECURITY, AND DELINQUENCY IN THE AMERICAS organized by CONNIE MCGUIRE (University of California-Irvine), Salon H, Third Floor, Marriott
- TIM GODDARD (University of California-Irvine) — Managing ‘Risky’ Populations: Crime Control Through Public-Private Partnerships
- CONNIE MCGUIRE (University of California-Irvine) — Transnationalizing Gangs in the Americas: From Local Problems to Regional Solutions
- VIRGINIA RAYMOND (Texas After Violence Project) — Lethal, Legal and Premeditated: U.S. State Homicide and Its Reverberations Throughout the Americas
- NINA SIULC (University of Massachusetts-Amherst) — U.S. Crimmigration Policies, Transnational Insecurities, and ? “Retraining”? Deportees
- WENDY REYES & ANGELA SANGUINETTI — Addressing the Limits of Orthodox Language
- MARIANA MORA — The Effects of Mexican State Security Policies: New Expressions of State Violence, Human Rights and the Production of Subjectivities in the State of Guerrero
- DISCUSSANT: ELANA ZILBERG (University of California-San Diego)
- SANTIAGO GUERRA (University of Texas-Austin) — Los Mafiosos Y La Chota: Drug Trafficking and Policing in the South Texas-Mexico Borderlands
as part of the panel CIRCULATING MILITARISM, CIRCULATING SUBJECTS,Salon 829, Eighth Floor, Sheraton
- TOM HALL (Cardiff University) & ROBIN SMITH — Local Motion, Local Knowledge: Research ‘On the Move’ With Urban Patrols as part of the panel OBSERVERS ON THE MOVE: REVISITING TRADITIONS AND EXPLORING INNOVATIONS IN PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION, Bayside B, Fourth Floor, Sheraton
Getting some momentum into the semester, here’s a few bits of news from around the internet tubes:
Dr. Jonathan Simon, UC Berkeley, talks with George Kenney on Electric Politics: Rewiring the American Regime about his new book Governing Through Crime, which focuses on the growth of the U.S. prison system in conjunction with the ever-growing “security mindset” that has crept into nearly all aspects of American society.
Professor Kassin speaks briefly about the role of police in obtaining false confessions (especially in relation to youth and other vulnerable populations), police interrogation techniques (including lying to suspects), and the difficulty of discerning false confessions from real confessions.
U.S. Supreme Court petitioned to hear a mother’s case against U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) after her 4th generation, U.S. citizen daughter is deported to Mexico with the child’s undocumented father. The petition followed a judgement handed down by the U.S. Court of appeals for the 5th circuit stating that while the court did not “condone the Border Patrol’s actions or the choices it made,” the mother could not bring suit against CBP because BP agents were entitled to use their discretion in the matter.
The past week found executions (and the questions that surround capital punishment) in the news. In Ohio, the execution of Romell Broom was “botched” and eventually called off when technicians were unable to deliver the lethal injection citing his drug use as their reason to not hit a vein after nearly two hours. Initially there was an attempt to set a second execution date — which was temporarily halted as questions of cruel and unusual punishment are considered. During the same week, Stephen Moody was executed in Texas, the John Allen Muhammad the so-called “DC sniper” had his execution date set while others fought to avoid extradition and execution in the US. Here are a few pieces to recap the week alongside a few interesting opinion pieces.