In the Journals

In the Journals – October 2014


Welcome back to In the Journals, a bi-monthly look at the recent academic publications that deal with issues of security, crime, policing and the law. The last few months have seen a slew of new journal issues and many noteworthy articles of interest to anthropoliteia’s readers – below are just a few of these to browse through over the Fall.

Anthropological Quarterly‘s Summer edition includes two special sections; the first on ‘Hybrid Landscapes’ includes an article by Lisa Meierotto entitled ‘A Disciplined Space: The Co-Evolution of Conservation and Militarization on the US-Mexico Border’. Mierotto describes how conservation and militarization have co-evolved in a complex yet often symbiotic relationship across time and space, through the case of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, located in Southern Arizona.The environmental history of the dual processes of conservation and militarization at the refuge enhances our understanding of contemporary environmental challenges in this hybrid landscape.

The journal’s second theme is on ‘Protest in Brazil’. This section includes engaged commentary and contributions from a variety of anthropologists. Of particular interest to anthropoliteia’s readers is Anelise de Santos Gutteres’ article ‘“It’s not Easy, I ask for Public Mobility and the Government Sends Skull Against Me”: An Intimate Account of the Poltiical Protests in Rio de Janeiro (June-July 2013)’. The article narrates the protests with a particular focus on both the actions of the police and the role of police repression on re-configuring the organisation and demands of protestors, as well as the criminalization of the protests undertaken by mainstream media.

Also on Brazil,the Annals of the Association of American Geographers has published an article by Jeff Garmany entitled ‘Space for the State? Police, Violence, and Urban Poverty in Brazil’. The article explores the relationships between policing and space, querying perceived divisions between the state and society through an investigation of police work. By examining the tenuous position that police officers occupy, it unpacks the state–society contradictions embodied by police. Through a case study of a favela community (low-income urban settlement) in northeast Brazil, it illustrates how distance between the state and civil society—and the discretion state actors hold over nonstate actors—relates to moments of police violence and ongoing abuse.

The journal Foucault Studies has also released a special issue on ‘Ethnographies of Neoliberal Governmentalities’ this month; of particular interest to anthropoliteia’s readers is Randy Lippert’s ‘Neo-Liberalism, Police, and the Governance of Little Things’, which seeks to refine understandings of the governmental logics that comprise and shape urban governance. Drawing on research using ethnographic methods that explore the business improvement district (BID) and the condominium corporation (condo) it is argued that exclusive focus on urban neo‐liberalism neglects an urban “police.” Ethnography helps discern this “police” as well as how neo‐liberalism relates to it in private urban realms typically hidden from view. Examining BIDs and condos in this way shows that neo‐liberalism and “police” co‐exist and combine in the governance of urban residential and commercial life.

As usual, the recently released issue of Punishment and Society includes a number of articles dealing with punitive politics and contemporary institutions of incarceration. Sarah Turnbull’s article ‘Aboriginalising the Parole Process: “Culturally Appropriate” Adaptations and the Canadian Federal Parole System’ examines the advent of one ‘culturally appropriate’ adaptation of the parole process, the Elder assisted hearing, introduced in 1992 by the Parole Board of Canada as a means of (1) addressing the problem of over-representation and (2) being responsive to Aboriginal difference. It shows that the ‘Aboriginalisation’ of parole hearing formats is by no means a straightforward process, and is illustrative of the broader challenges that racial, cultural and gender differences pose to contemporary penality.

In a completely different carceral environment, Kevin O’Neill’s article ‘On Liberation: Crack, Christianity and Captivity in Postwar Guatemala City’ in the Fall issue of Social Text examines the spike in drug rehabilitation centers in the city following the re-routing of cocaine through Guatemala and the subsequent spike in the use of crack cocaine. Run by Pentecostal Christians, these centers warehouse users (against their will) in the name of liberation. Locked up, tied up, and told to shape up, these users confess, at times plead, that they want out and they want it now. Pastors, in response, assure them that captivity is itself liberation—that slavery is salvation. This will to escape provokes a pair of guiding questions. They are, at their most philosophical: How do openings become enclosures? How do lines of flight become absolute dead ends?

The August edition of Social Anthropology includes an article by Rosalind Shaw on ‘The TRC, the NGO and the Child Young People and Post-Conflict Futures in Sierra Leone’. This article concerns post-conflict interventions as technologies of future making, and their intersection with children as temporalised figures. After Sierra Leone’s civil war, child protection agencies and its Truth and Reconciliation Commission sought to restore children ‘out of sequence’ to a presumed childhood origin and thereby re-set the timeline of both children and nation. A politics of future-making emerged in the unequal encounter through which children and post-conflict interventions each sought to achieve a desired future through the other.

The Journal Of Law and Society‘s September issue contains an article by anthropologist Noa Vaisman entitled ‘Relational Human Rights: Shed-DNA and the Identification of the “Living Disappeared” in Argentina’. Through an ethnographic reading of an Argentine Supreme Court decision Vaisman explores the changing nature of the legal subject of human rights in light of emerging technologies. Guillermo Gabriel Prieto was suspected of being a ‘living disappeared’, forcibly abducted by the last military dictatorship in Argentina. The Court’s deliberations focused on Guillermo’s appeal of a lower-court decision to carry out an identity test based on his shed-DNA. Vaisman argues that the ruling offers us an alternative conception of the subject that could become the foundation for a new vision of human rights.

The September issue of the Contemporary Justice Review includes an article by William Armaline, Claudio Vera Sanches and Mark Correia entitled ‘“The Biggest Gang in Oakland”: Re-thinking Police Legitimacy’. The authors analyse interviews with a diverse sample of Oakland (CA) residents on their experiences with the Oakland Police Department (OPD). Those interviewed, universally observed OPD’s failure to address the most common crime problems in the city, while others, particularly people of color, found them to be a personal or public threat to safety. Their narratives fly in the face of the manifest functions of municipal police forces and suggest the illegitimate authority – including the monopoly on the use of force – of organizations like OPD in a democratic society.

Feminist Criminology‘s October issue includes an article by Megan Welsh and Valli Rajah on ‘Rendering Invisible Punishments Visible: Using Institutional Ethnography in Feminist Criminology’. The authors argue that as the pendulum swings away from mass incarceration, feminist criminologists must be alert to the ways in which forms of invisible punishment continue to oppress and marginalize crime-processed women. Through illustrative examples from a sample of formerly incarcerated women in post-realignment California, they demonstrate institutional ethnography’s importance as a feminist research tool that places the reentry work of crime-processed women in conversation with the invisible punishments imposed on them after and in lieu of incarceration.

In the new volume of the Annual Review of Anthropology, Manuela Cunha’s ‘The Ethnography of Prisons and Penal Confinement’ maps out current developments and characterizes them in relation to key themes that shaped earlier approaches. The review is organized around the prison–society relation and the articulation between intramural and extramural worlds. The porosity of prison boundaries, increasingly acknowledged, has also been problematized and ethnographically documented in different ways: from prison-in-context to interface approaches, both more reflexive and attuned to broader theoretical debates.

Finally, as always, a number of noteworthy book reviews have appeared in the last two months. In Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews, Jill McCorkel examines Rebecca Tiger’s 2012 work Judging Addicts Drug Courts and Coercion in the Justice System; American Anthropologist includes Jennifer Burrell’s review of Deborah Levenson’s Adiós Niño: The Gangs of Guatemala City and the Politics of Death; and Ieva Jusionyte evaluates Didier Fassin’s Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing in the journal Social Anthropology.

As always, we welcome your feedback.  If you have any suggestions for journals we should be keeping tabs on for this feature, or if you want to call our attention to a specific issue or article, send an email to with the words “In the Journals” in the subject header.

One thought on “In the Journals – October 2014

  1. Pingback: DragNet: October 21 – November 3, 2014 | Anthropoliteia

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