In the Journals

In the Journals – June 2016

Surveillance Camera

Welcome back to In the Journals, a monthly review of just a fraction of the most recent academic research on security, crime, policing, and the law. The summer solstice has passed, and many of us are no doubt in the throes of fieldwork. Regardless, we here at Anthropoliteia will continue to bring you the best and most interesting recent publications for the entirety of the summer season.

The June 2016 issue of Security Dialogue features an article by Katharine Hall Kindervater titled “The emergence of lethal surveillance: Watching and killing in the history of drone technology”. Her article examines the history of the development of drone technology to understand the longer histories of surveillance and targeting that shape contemporary drone warfare. Drawing on archival research, the article focuses on three periods in the history of the drone: the early years during World Wars I and II, the Cold War, and the 1990s. The history of the drone reveals two key trends in Western warfare: the increasing importance of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and the development of dynamic targeting. These trends converge today in a practice of lethal surveillance where ISR capabilities are directly linked to targeted killing, effectively merging mechanisms of surveillance and knowledge production with decisions on life and death. Taking this history of lethal surveillance into account not only reframes current debates on drone warfare, but also connects the drone to other practices of security and control.

The most recent issue of Social Studies of Science features the article “The sensory power of cameras and noise meters for protest surveillance in South Korea” by Eun-Sung Kim. This article analyzes sensory aspects of material politics in social movements, focusing on two police tools: evidence-collecting cameras and noise meters for protest surveillance. Through interviews with Korean political activists, Kim examines the relationship between power and the senses in the material culture of Korean protests and asks why cameras and noise meters appeared in order to control contemporary peaceful protests in the 2000s. The use of cameras and noise meters in contemporary peaceful protests evidences the exercise of what Michel Foucault calls ‘micro-power’. Building on material culture studies, this article also compares the visual power of cameras with the sonic power of noise meters, in terms of a wide variety of issues: the control of things versus words, impacts on protest size, differential effects on organizers and participants, and differences in timing regarding surveillance and punishment.

Mass incarceration entrenches racial and class inequality and segregation. Before, during, and after low-income people of color enter prison, they experience a range of barriers and biases that make it difficult to break out of the prison pipeline. The article “These Bars Can’t Hold Us Back: Plowing Incarcerated Geographies with Restorative Food Justice” by Joshua Sbicca from the most recent issue of Antipode investigates food justice and restorative justice activists in Oakland, California who are intervening at the point of reentry. Sbicca argues for the significance of teasing out the connections between food and carceral politics as a way to expand the practice and understanding of food justice. Specifically, the author shows how the incarcerated geographies of former prisoners, that is, perspectives and experiences that result due to the prison pipeline, motivate the formation of a restorative food justice. The associated healing and mutual aid practices increase social equity by creating spaces to overcome the historical trauma of mass incarceration, produce living wage jobs, rearticulate relationships to food and land, and achieve policy reforms.

Michelle Frances Carmody’s article “Post-Authoritarian State Formation in Argentina: Transitional Justice as the Accumulation of Symbolic Power” posted online by the Journal of Historical Sociology looks at the transitions to democracy in Latin America during the late 20th century, a number of scholars observed that human rights and transitional justice had become the central legitimizing axis of the new, post-authoritarian order. But, Carmody posits, the question of how human rights and transitional justice measures became such powerful sources of legitimacy in the first place was left unexplored. Using Bourdieu’s concept of symbolic capital along with Mara Loveman’s explanation of the accumulation of this capital, the author aims to explain how transitional justice came to function as a form of post-authoritarian state formation in Argentina.

The August 2016 issue of Social & Legal Studies features a fantastic article by Nicola Henry and Anastasia Powell entitled “Sexual Violence in the Digital Age: The Scope and Limits of Criminal Law”. The authors note that considerable scholarly attention has been paid to a range of criminal behaviours that are perpetrated with the aid of digital technologies. Much of this focus, however, has been on high-tech computer crimes, such as hacking, online fraud and identity theft, or child exploitation material and cyberbullying. Less attention has been paid to ‘technology-facilitated sexual violence’, where new technologies are used as tools to perpetrate or extend the harm of a sexual assault, extend control and abuse in a domestic violence situation, or distribute sexual or intimate images of another without their consent. In this article, the authors shift the focus on the scope and limitations of criminal legislation for responding to these varied but interconnected gendered harms, arguing that although there have been some developments in a range of international jurisdictions, particularly relating to the phenomenon of ‘revenge pornography’, much more needs to be done both within and beyond the law. Despite their support for the intervention of the criminal law, Henry and Powell argue that equal attention must be given to policies and practices of educators, law enforcement agencies, service providers, online communities and social media networks to fulfill the promise of equal and ethical digital citizenship.

Once again, here are a handful of book reviews that have been included in various journals that we feel are of greatest interest to our readers. The July 2016 issue of Contemporary Sociology features Michael Campbell’s review of “Cheap on Crime: Recession-Era Politics and the Transformation of American Punishment” by Hadar Aviram. This timely analysis of changes in correctional policy and practice argues that the recession opened a new politically feasible course away from costly levels of imprisonment. The aforementioned August 2016 issue of Social & Legal Studies features a review by Kath Murray of Mike Shiner and Rebekah Delsol’s edited volume “Stop and Search: Anatomy of a Police Power”. Finally, the latest issue of American Anthropologist features a review by Alejandro Castillejo-Cuéllar of Winifred Tate’s book “Drugs, Thugs, and Diplomats: U.S. Policymaking in Colombia”.

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.

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