In the Journals

In the Journals – September 2015

Brotherhood Week

Welcome back to In the Journals, a round-up of recent journal publications on security, crime, law enforcement and the state. September is upon us, and that means classes are back in session, fieldwork has (probably) come to a halt for the time being, and academics are much too busy to scour journals for the most interesting and thought-provoking articles. That’s where In the Journals steps in and brings you, our dear readers, the latest and greatest articles and book reviews.

The August 2015 issue of Cultural Studies – Critical Methodologies is a special issue, entitled “From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin”, and features many articles of interest, including Stephen Dillon and Allison Page’s “The Haunting of Evidence”. Their article situates the murder of Trayvon Martin within the history of the relationship between evidence, be it testimony, documentary evidence, or physical evidence, and anti-blackness. By situating the murder of Trayvon Martin within this history, Dillon and Page suggest that evidence and facts are rendered irrelevant when it comes to racialized violence and terror. Through an examination of the circulated “media narrative” images of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, the authors argue that the failure of evidence is bound up with a racialized optics in U.S. chattel slavery that overdetermines blackness as a political ontology of criminality. That is to say, in the words of the authors, that one cannot prove blackness innocent because guilt is a foregone conclusion.

The same special issue also includes an article by Kelly Macías titled “‘Sisters in the Collective Struggle’: Sounds of Silence and Reflections on the Unspoken Assault on Black Females in Modern America”. As the conversation on the state of modern Black America deepens in the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy and increased violence affecting young Black males, Macías notes that acknowledging historical and present structures that serve to disenfranchise the Black community remain largely focused on boys and men. To fully examine the impact of White supremacy, patriarchy, and violence on Black lives, the author argues that it is necessary to remove the culture of silence that permeates the discussion of how oppression is experienced by Black females. In this article, Macías explores the ways in which society encourages misogynoir (anti-Black misogyny) by reinforcing the marginalization of Black females and their status as the keepers of Black life. According to the author, a dialogue about Black life, which does not speak to the troubles of Black women, is incomplete. Giving voice to their struggles, in the context of discussing the collective Black experience, is a part of the larger fight for peace, justice, and equality.

A case study of Los Angeles County portraying the war on drugs during the 1950s as a racial and spatial project that combined though mandatory-minimum sentences for urban “pushers” and Mexican American “gangsters” with discretionary loopholes for white suburban “victims” of the heroin and marijuana markets has been included in the September 2015 issue of Journal of Urban History. The article, “Pushers, Victims, and the Lost Innocence of White Suburbia: California’s War on Narcotics during the 1950s by Matthew D. Lassiter, explores how state institutions, media scripts, and white middle-class organizations constructed illegal drug use as a suburban crisis through a racialized pusher–victim discourse that collectively criminalized minority youth while decriminalizing white teenage lawbreakers. According to Lassiter, the escalation of California’s antinarcotics crusade during the postwar decades illuminates the deep historical roots, thoroughly bipartisan policies, and grassroots suburban politics that shaped the rise of mass incarceration and the continuing racial and spatial inequalities of drug war enforcement in modern America, an enforcement that continues to the present day.

The upcoming October 2015 issue of New Media & Society‘s includes a fascinating article by Miyase Christensen and André Jansson on the institutional and meta-processual dimensions of surveillance. The article, “Complicit surveillance, interveillance, and the question of cosmopolitanism: Toward a phenomenological understanding of mediatization”, notes that these instutional and meta-processual dimensions of surveillance have been extensively scrutinized in literature. The authors note that in these accounts, the subjective, individual level has often been invoked in relation to subject–object, surveillor–surveilled dualities and in terms of the kinds of subjectivity modern and late-modern institutions engender. Therefore, the experiential, ontological realm of the “mediatized everyday” vis-a-vis surveillance remains less explored, particularly from the phenomenological perspective of the lifeworld. Academic discourses of surveillance mostly address rhetorically oriented macro-perspectives. The same diagnosis largely applies to the debates on the cosmopolitanization process. The literature of cosmopolitanism revolves around broad cultural and ethical transformations in terms of the relationship between Self and Other, individual and humanity, and the local and the universal. In this article, the authors therefore aim to conceptualize the dynamics that yield a cosmopolitan Self and an encapsulated Self (their terminology) under conditions of increasingly interactive and ubiquitous forms of mediation and surveillance. The article presents a conceptually novel exploration into security and surveillance, primarily through a phenomenological approach, which proves fascinating.

The most recent issue of Critical Sociology features an article by David G. Embrick entitled “Two Nations, Revisited: The Lynching of Black and Brown Bodies, Police Brutality, and Racial Control in ‘Post-Racial’ Amerikkka”. Presenting a little bit of historical context, Embrick explores how, in 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (NACCD) to examine the 1967 race riots that were taking place in Los Angeles, Chicago, Newark, and Detroit that erupted in the mid-1960s. That report, officially labeled the Kerner Report, outlined structural inequalities in America that privileged whites over other racial and ethnic groups. To quote the report itself: Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white–separate and unequal (National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, 1968). Embrick poses the following question to his readers: Forty-seven years after the Kerner Report where do we stand? Revisiting recent events on police violence toward minorities, including the deaths of Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Embrick gives consideration to some thoughts moving forward. The struggles for justice and democratic transformation through peaceful means have only resulted in the deaths of more brown and black folks. When peaceful means have been shown to give little to no justice, whites become surprised and angry at minority protesters who fight back through anger of their own. Embrick therefore concludes that the progress forward must be well organized and embracing of the fact the struggle for equality has always been a struggle over race, class, and gender matters in America.

In the September issue of International Political Sociology, Tim Stevens discusses virtual worlds as sociological sites of inquiry in relation to security and surveillance. In his article entitled ‘Security and Surveillance in Virtual Worlds: Who Is Watching the Warlocks and Why?’ Stevens addresses the fact that virtual worlds, persistent online spaces of social interaction and emergent gameplay, have hitherto been neglected in International Studies. Documents disclosed by Edward Snowden in December 2013 suggest that intelligence agencies, including the US National Security Agency and the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), have been less reticent in exploring and exploiting these environments for signals and human intelligence. Stevens therefore introduces virtual worlds as sociological sites in the matrix of international politics and explores how the intelligence community (IC) has conducted operations in these environments, principally for counterterrorism purposes. Reconstructing the activities of the IC shows how virtual worlds have been drawn into the ambit of state surveillance practices, particularly as a means to generate intelligence from virtual-world behaviors that correlate with, and predict, “real-world” behaviors indicative of terrorism and other subversive activities. These intelligence activities, according to Stevens, portend a general colonization by the state of previously unregulated interstices of the sociotechnical Internet and their analysis contributes to an understanding of the relationship between government and the Internet in the early twenty-first century.

Last, but not least, we once again include a bevy of book reviews we believe to be of interest to anthropoliteia’s readers. First, the latest issue of Urban Studies features a review of Stefano Bloch’s book Street Art, Public City: Law, Crime and the Urban Imagination by Alison Young. Law, Culture and the Humanities features two interesting book reviews for our readership. The first is Eli Meyerhoff’s review of Mark Neocleous’ War Power, Police Power, and the second is Jean-Philippe Crete’s review of Chris Andersen’s ‘Métis’: Race, Recognition, and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood. Finally, the August issue of the Social Studies of Science features a review penned by Stephen T Casper of Nicholas Langlitz’s fantastic book Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research Since the Decade of the Brain, a self-described ‘fieldwork in philosophy’ and a critical history of biomysticism, contained in an ethnography of contemporary psychedelic laboratories.

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 anthropoliteia@gmail.com with the words “In the Journals” in the subject header.
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