The upcoming September 2016 issue of Public Culture features an article by Anthony W. Fontes titled “Extorted Life: Protection Rackets in Guatemala City”. This essay is an ethnography of extorted life, mapping the expanding geographies of extortion in postwar Guatemala to illuminate how this cold-blooded business organizes life at the most intimate of scales. Extortion is the most common of crimes in Central America today and the most despised. Fontes posits that as a growing criminal phenomenon, it exemplifies trends prevalent across post–Cold War Latin America as well as other parts of the world. In many societies, the “democratic wave” and the triumph of market fundamentalism has been accompanied by deepening uncertainty: the state has become criminal, criminals counterfeit the state. For those caught in the middle, distinguishing between predator and protector is often impossible. In his article, Fontes argues that proliferating protection rackets are both a symptom of and answer to collective anxieties over the terms of everyday survival and the difficulty of determining just who is in charge.
Published online by Antipode, the article “Care-full Justice in the City” by Miriam J. Williams develops the concept of care-full justice, which assists in negotiating the inherent tension between the normative and situated in the search for the ideals, and actually existing expressions, of justice and care in the city. Feminist theorists in geography and beyond have long been calling for an ethic of care to be considered alongside justice as a normative ideal that can assist us in repairing our world. In urban theory this call has largely remained unheard as an ethic of care remains absent from theorisations of what comprises a just city. Williams therefore argues for care to be considered alongside justice as an equally important ethic in our search for justice in the city. The article further demonstrates the generative potential of this concept and argues that it enables us to re-think what cities can be and to reveal times and places where this is the case.
The oral histories of indigenous women migrants from Latin America relate human rights violations at every step: in their homes, where violence and impunity compel them to migrate; as they cross the wide expanse of Mexico, encountering a gamut of dangers and a vast sea of impunity, and once they enter the United States, where as asylum seekers they are incarcerated under laws designed to impeded terrorism, or face new vulnerability to partners or strangers if they are undocumented. Shannon Speed’s article, entitled “States of violence: Indigenous women migrants in the era of neoliberal multicriminalism” from the most recent issue of Critique of Anthropology argues that this is not what was supposed to happen. The multicultural reforms of the 1990s in various Latin American countries that recognized a range of rights for indigenous peoples generated hope and unprecedented social mobilization for indigenous women seeking to fully access their human rights. However since that time, Speed posits that life has gotten more difficult. The promises of neoliberal multiculturalism of the 1990s, however constrained, now seem a distant memory. Theorists have dedicated significant effort to understanding the limitations of neoliberal rights regimes for indigenous peoples, but today, the generalized irrelevance of those regimes suggests that we need to shift our lens. Based on migrant women’s oral histories, Speed explores how indigenous women are being interpellated by states and other social actors in ways that render even their most basic human rights unattainable. Furthermore, she expands on that analysis to consider how state and non-state power is working in the current moment, which she argues is characterized not so much by neoliberal multiculturalism, as by neoliberal multicriminalism in which violent, corrupt, and lawless states are driven by profit motives in massive scale illegal economies that lack any reasonable regulation or protection of basic human rights.
Finally, the most recent issue of Policing features several articles of interest. The first, an article by Sara Stronks entitled “Community Police Officers and Self-Involved Conflict: An Explorative Study on Reconciliation with Citizens” looks at the reflections of community police officers on self-involved interpersonal conflict and reconciliation with citizens are explored through a relational perspective. Stronks posits that besides the social/physical state of the opponents and the context of the conflict, the assessed nature of their relationship — expressed by the value, security, and compatibility of the relationship — appears to influence the interactions that follow a confrontation and the occurrence of reconciliation. The relationship assessment appears to be motivated by socially as well as institutionally embedded considerations. With respect to the pivotal, yet lonely role community police officers assess themselves to have in relationship management, reconciliation is regarded an important means in building, maintaining, and even strengthening relationships with actors that are valuable to successful community policing.
A second article of interest from the same issue, “The Italian Anti-Mafia System between Practice and Symbolism: Evaluating Contemporary Views on the Italian Structure Model against Organized Crime” by Anna Sergi, describes and analyses conceptualizations of mafias and anti-mafia in Italy across institutions in Italy. It first interprets criminal law provisions and the value of legal norms and establishes the links between the social dimension of mafias and the symbolism of certain anti-mafia responses. Secondly, the article seeks to link the law with institutional perceptions of the threat of organized crime through in-depth interviews with experts within the anti-mafia system. Sergi notes that the purpose of this article are to construct and de-construct the Italian conceptualization of organized crime and mafia, to understand how strong is the link between the conceptualization of mafias and the main elements of the anti-mafia policing model (the Structure Model), and to start a discussion on whether, and to what extent, the anti-mafia system can be exported outside Italy to fight organized crime.
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 September 2016 issue of American Anthropologist features Nafis Aziz Hasan’s review of “The Camera as Witness: A Social History of Mizoram, Northeast India” by Joy L. K. Pachuau and Willem van Schendel. The current issue of the International Criminal Justice Review features Anna Lerner’s review of Graham Denyer Willis’s book “The killing consensus: Police, organized crime, and the regulation of life and death in urban Brazil”. Finally, the latest issue of Critical Sociology features a review by JJ Christofferson of Geoff Harkness’s book “Chicago Hustle and Flow: Gangs, Gangsta Rap, and Social Class”.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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “In the Journals” in the subject header.
Summer is here and that means that most of us will no doubt be undertaking fieldwork of some sort. But fear not, as we here at In the Journals will continue to provide monthly round-ups of the latest articles regarding surveillance, governance, and policing for the entirety of the summer.