In the Journals

In the Journals – September 2016

Surveillance Camera

A new semester is upon us, and our monthly round-up, In the Journals, is here to provide our readers with some of the best articles from around academia. Summer has come and gone, and many of us are slowly but surely returning from fieldwork. While most of us remain busy with syllabi, grading, and bureaucratic red tape, we here at Anthropoliteia will continue to bring you the best and most interesting recent publications regarding policing, security, law, and punishment.

The upcoming October 2016 issue of Law, Culture and the Humanities features an article by Tristan Josephson titled “Trans Citizenship: Marriage, Immigration, and Neoliberal Recognition in the United States”. The article examines the intersection of marriage and immigration law in the U.S. to consider how transgender subjects are normalized as legible legal subjects and incorporated as citizens through marriage. It focuses on Matter of Lovo (2005), a Board of Immigration Appeals case confirming immigration benefits for marriages involving transgender spouses. The author’s analysis traces how legal regulation develops through the ways different legal documents and actors condition each other as well as the legal subjects they produce. The article addresses key questions about trans citizenship as it is shaped through marriage, immigration, and neoliberalism in the contemporary U.S.

The most recent issue of New Media & Society features the article “‘Can you hear me?’ Mobile–radio interactions and governance in Africa” by Iginio Gagliardone. This article explores the exponential diffusion of mobile phones in Africa and how their ability to interact with other media has created new avenues for individuals to interface with power. These forms of engagement, however, have primarily been interpreted through the lenses of the ‘liberation technology’ agenda, which privileges the relationship between citizens and the state, neglecting the variety of actors and networks that intervene in shaping governance processes, alongside or in competition with the state. Through an ethnography of two local radio stations in Kenya, this article offers a more realistic picture of mobile–radio interactions and their repercussions on governance. The findings illustrate that (1) while these interactive spaces are open to all listeners with access to a phone, they are in practice inhabited by small cohorts of recurrent characters often connected to existing power structures; (2) even in places where basic services are offered by actors other than the state, including non-governmental organizations and criminal networks, the state continues to represent the imagined figure to which listeners address most of their demands; (3) in contrast to the expectations that authorities will act on claims and grievances made public through the media, other factors, including ethnicity, intervene in facilitating or preventing action.

Since the labeling of the ‘anthropology of politics’ in the mid-20th century, the discipline has changed in multiple ways. The article “Anthropology of power: Beyond state-centric politics” by José Luis Escalona Victoria from the most recent issue of Anthropological Theory investigates how anthropology has moved from state-centric politics (in the forms of state, stateless, anti-state or alter-state notions) to wider and more contradictory realms of configurations of power. This article also looks at the ways in which power works out day-by-day. A per- spective on power entails a privileged ethnographic focus on everyday differentiation, contradiction and struggle in the making of social organization, as well as in arrangements and disputes over the labor of categorizing (or grassroots philosophical work) invested in these processes. In this article, and in light of these concerns, the author ask if anthropologists could reframe some questions that have been present since the very foundation of modern social sciences.

Prior research has documented the historical significance of the black church beyond serving parishioners’ religious and spiritual needs. Scholars, however, have paid less attention to its role as a potent social institution in community crime control and prevention efforts. Kashea Pegram, Rod K. Brunson and Anthony A. Braga’s article “The Doors of the Church are Now Open: Black Clergy, Collective Efficacy, and Neighborhood Violence” from the most recent issue of City & Community, explores how black churches are involved in community organizing, social service activities, and political action. The authors conducted face-to-face interviews with 30 members of Boston’s Ten Point Coalition of activist black clergy to document the motivations for and mechanisms through which ministers became involved in efforts to reduce street violence, the varied methods through which ministers develop strategic coalitions and manage violence reduction initiatives, and the ways ministers address the complex challenges involved in doing this work. Study findings suggest that black churches can serve as sources of collective efficacy that can help mobilize other churches, community organizations, police departments, and neighborhood residents in a coordinated effort to address urban youth violence.

Published online by American Anthropologist, the article “Scripting Dissent: US Abortion Laws, State Power, and the Politics of Scripted Speech” by Mara Buchbinder, explores how abortion laws offer a point of entry for “the state” to intervene in intimate clinical matters. Buchbinder explores the various uses of scripts and scripting in state-mandated abortion counseling following the implementation of North Carolina’s (2011) Woman’s “Right to Know” Act. The law mandates that women receive counseling with specific, state-prescribed information at least 24 hours prior to an abortion. Drawing on interviews with abortion providers in North Carolina, Buchbinder analyzes how the meaning of scripting shifts across different clinical and bureaucratic contexts and show that abortion providers perceived themselves to be scripted by “the state” even though their words were not explicitly chosen by lawmakers. Thus, rather than viewing the law merely as a product of North Carolina legislative activity, Buchbinder argues that abortion providers also help to create the law, and its social and moral power, by interpreting and enacting it. However, abortion providers also revealed creative strategies for “scripting dissent” from the law—that is, rejecting, challenging, or otherwise subverting the state’s ideological message. This demonstrates that the linguistic force of the script stretches beyond its textual meaning to encompass the way it is performed within a particular context and how it is sometimes used for unexpected ends.

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 aforementioned October issue of Law, Culture and the Humanities features Sarah Murphy’s review of “Public Trials: Burke, Zola, Arendt, and the Politics of Lost Causes” by Lida Maxwell. The October 2016 issue of Political Theory features a review by Fred Dallmayr of “The Place of Prejudice: A Case for Reasoning Within the World” by Adam A. Sandel. Finally, the latest issue of International Sociology features a review by Younes Saramifar of Carrie A. Rentschler’s book “Second Wounds: Victims’ Right and the Media in the United States”.

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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