DragNet

DragNet: March 23 – April 5, 2015

chicago gangs

“What would it take for today’s gang members to bring peace to the neighborhood?” writes Laurence Ralph in his post for Anthropoliteia last month. Ralph recounts the story of his friendship with an elderly member of one of Chicago’s most notorious gangs, The Divine Knights. But the story reveals the little known history of the gang, as well as a strikingly “tender” side of the group previously known only among local community members.

To record, or not to record; that is the question! Last month, we shared Carlos Miller’s post for Photography is Not a Crime. According to legislators in Texas, members of the general public should not be allowed to film or record officers by law. But a policy being proposed by a political duo in Colorado begs to differ. Joe Salazar and Daneya Esgar have teamed up to co-sponsor a bill that would award up to $15,000 (plus attorney fees) to citizens who have cameras or recording devices confiscated by officers without a warrant. You can read a copy of the proposed bill here and decide for yourself.

The small town of Madison, Wisconsin is putting a whole new spin on the meaning of “officer next door” in an attempt to foster peaceful interactions between police and local community members. Melissa Block hosts this episode of All Thing Considered for NPR and details how officers and neighborhood residents have reacted to the police department literally moving in next store to high crime areas. The key to the community initiative’s success apparently lies in its exposure of officers and citizens to one another in everyday contexts- both good and bad.

If you, like me, have been amazed to discover how very impossible it is to obtain even the slightest estimates about lethal use of force by police for any given year, you’ve got to read Tom McCarthy’s post for The Guardian ASAP. Finally, we learn why there are no reliable estimates about police-related homicides: it was too difficult, so “we just gave up”. (Yeah, I’m not buying it either!) Although the Bureau of Justice Statistics arguably places a number on all kinds of similar measures, they’re reporting difficulties assessing lethal use of force nation-wide. Among other stumbling blocks are incomplete or never-filed reports (from departments such as NYPD) and inconsistent reporting. Now it’s time to play the waiting game to see if Obama’s newly created Policing Task Force will follow through with his request for “more” (or any?) data…

“What would it take for today’s gang members to bring peace to the neighborhood?” writes Laurence Ralph in his post for Anthropoliteia last month. Not that we need to remind you, but the newest Tip of the Cap feature is up and hungry for your feedback. Ralph recounts the story of his friendship with an elderly member of one of Chicago’s most notorious gangs, The Divine Knights. But the story reveals the little known history of the gang, as well as a strikingly “tender” side of the group previously known only among local community members. Laurence Ralph is an Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies as well as Anthropology at Harvard University. If you leave the post wanting more, be sure to check out his book, “Renegade Dreams: Living Through Injury in Gangland Chicago“.

To end on a fun note (and just because I’m feeling random), treat yourself to browsing through Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty’s eclectic collection of bizarre Soviet Police posters from back in the day. Among my own personal favorites are, “concerned looking smoking guy” and “Gee! My facial angle looks great in this lighting!“. If you’re also the kind of person that likes a healthy amount of “crazy crap” on your walls, you’ll thank me for including a link that can hook you up with your next police-inspired addition.

Did I miss something? No worries- it does happen on occasion. If you have any suggestions for DragNet, or if you want to call attention to a specific blog or article, send an email to anthropoliteia@gmail.com with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!

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Announcements, Call for papers

CFP: Making Races, Breaking Cases: A dialogue on science and society in the U.S. criminal justice context

(This call for papers is for a panel to be held at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Denver this November.)

How do police “make” race? How do people experience racial bias as an element in police power? This panel initiates discussion of these questions among anthropologists from across the four fields, in dialogue with scholars from other disciplines. We bring together forensic anthropologists, forensic scientists, political and legal anthropologists, and scholars of information technology to describe, discuss and reflect upon the institutional dynamics of race-making and racial bias in the United States criminal justice system. Papers will be given on (a) the interface of biological science and racial discourse in the production of police evidence; (b) the ways in which communities speak back to and engage with police archival records and evidence; (c) the place of race in legal theory and courtroom reality; d) latent bias in perceptions of race and racism and its potential impact on investigations. By merging critical theory with a diverse array of data—from technology to biology—we aspire to frame an integrated research agenda to address two major issues 1) the multidimensional sources from which the current state of racial biases in the criminal justice institute have stemmed/are sustained, and 2) the (in)visible ways in which those who are policed experience these biases.

We are looking for 1-2 additional people to join this conversation. If you would be interested in contributing a paper to this panel, please send a paper abstract ideas to hughesc@illinois.edu before April 7.

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DragNet

DragNet: March 9 – 22, 2015

Speaking of departments that have gotten a bad rap, Police Chief Alejandro Lares Valladares of the Tijuana police department recently equipped officers with body-worn cameras. He hopes the initiative will both improve police-citizen relations while holding each accountable for their actions.

Speaking of departments that have gotten a bad rap, Police Chief Alejandro Lares Valladares of the Tijuana police department recently equipped officers with body-worn cameras. He hopes the initiative will both improve police-citizen relations while holding each accountable for their actions.

You’d think members of a police department as big as NYPD would know somebody somewhere might be able to trace Wikipedia page edits to their network. We shared Kelly Weill’s post for The Capital, which exposes how a computer linked to NYPD allegedly altered information on Wikipedia pages about police use of force against Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo. Also bleak is their revelation that additional edits have been linked to the same NYPD IP addresses for entries covering stop-and-frisk, NYPD scandals and local NYPD and political leaders.

Speaking of departments that have gotten a bad rap, Police Chief Alejandro Lares Valladares of the Tijuana police department recently equipped officers with body-worn cameras. He hopes the initiative will both improve police-citizen relations while holding each accountable for their actions. Carrie Kahn of NPR recounts why, despite a long history of corruption, Lares believes the cameras will also capture how “citizens try to criticize my police officers.” Will body-worn cameras finally even the playing field?

According to Peter Moskos, it’s not just NYPD or Tijuana officers who are guilty of corruption: it’s “The Whole Damn System!”. We shared his post for Cop in the Hood, which explains how the recently issued (and damning) DOJ report of Ferguson’s police department “is about a whole system of government using the criminal justice system to legally steal from its residents.” Do you agree with his conclusion that, “one could be blind to race and still be outraged?” Feel free to weigh-in in the Comments section.

We previously shared AAA President Monica Heller’s call to fellow anthropologists to contemplate and discuss the intersection of race and justice. The events in Ferguson, as well as the subsequent police shooting of Eric Garner, made this topic one of utmost importance to the general public and scholars alike. In the same vein, we shared Jennifer Curtis’ post for Political and Legal Anthropology earlier this month. Learn how you (and/or fellow colleagues) can join this crucial discussion by submitting your ideas and suggestions to Jeff Martin at jmart@illinois.edu. APLA will be hosting a coordinated discussion of race and justice in Denver, November 2015.

Whether your own interests lie within the field of anthropology, sociology or criminal justice, chances are that you’ve heard a little (or a lot!) about Emile Durkheim. In my favorite “open-access” voucher of the month, Berghahn Journals announced they will offer free access to some of Durkheim’s original works in honor of the 24th anniversary of the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies. You can enjoy reading his pieces in their original French, or English translated, versions.

Did I miss something? No worries- it does happen on occasion. If you have any suggestions for DragNet, or if you want to call attention to a specific blog or article, send an email to anthropoliteia@gmail.com with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!

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DragNet

DragNet: January 26 – February 8, 2015

"I see how challenging the tour is to my class…they describe their discomfort of being the observers in what many liken to a human zoo," writes Ieva Jusionyte in my favorite post of the month.

“I see how challenging the tour is to my class…they describe their discomfort of being the observers in what many liken to a human zoo,” writes Ieva Jusionyte in my favorite post of the month.

It might be time for New York City’s Bill de Blasio to compare policing notes with Rafael Correa, writes Greg Grandin for The Nation. Ecuador’s president not only faced similar police-related challenges back in 2010, but managed to come out stronger than ever. Stay tuned to Anthropoliteia’s twitter feed for ongoing coverage of the NYPD-de Blasio fiasco.

What’s in a case study? The possibility that it is just that- a single set of potential results. Although police departments across the US are quickly adopting body-worn cameras, the results obtained by Rialto, CA’s pilot study are coming under scrutiny. New questions of interest include whether the verbal warnings (“You’re being recorded”) given by officers are the source of reduced citations, and whether any observed reductions in offenses will fade over time.

“I see how challenging the tour is to my class…they describe their discomfort of being the observers in what many liken to a human zoo,” writes Ieva Jusionyte in my favorite post of the month. Jusionyte demonstrates how the often “bland” classroom topics of theory and the criminal justice system take on new meanings when studied in the up-close-and-personal context of Florida State Prison. Jusionyte is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida.

Our loyal readers will recognize this familiar question posed by Dylan Kerrigan: Do police agencies need anthropologists? Kerrigan discussed issues raised by Anthropoliteia’s Jennie Simpson in his post for The Guardian Trinidad & Tobago last month. Perhaps a new question to ask is whether or not police agencies are ready to face “the cultural dynamics obstructing their innovation”.

Anthropoliteia was pleased to feature a “rebuttal” to the police-anthropologist question. Professor Wilson Pena-Pinzon’s post, “A Response to ‘Do Police Departments Need Anthropologists?'”, examines the flip-side of the police-anthropology coin by approaching it from a cross-cultural perspective. Pena-Pinzon is a professor and researcher for the Department of Anthropology at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and the Escuela Colombiana de Carreras Industriales.

Finally, be sure to check out Anthropoliteia’s YouTube channel for new episodes in our interview series. Dr. A. Lynn Bolles sits with us to discuss police racism, violence and the actions of the 2014 AAA Meetings. Dr. Bolles is an affiliate faculty in the University of Maryland’s Anthropology, African American Studies, American Studies, Comparative Literature AND Latin American Studies departments (phew!).

Did I miss something? No worries- it does happen on occasion. If you have any suggestions for DragNet, or if you want to call attention to a specific blog or article, send an email to anthropoliteia@gmail.com with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!

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Practicum

Do Police Departments Need Anthropologists?

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Police Call Box © Jennie Simpson

As a new year quickly approaches, and we reflect on the increasing calls for police accountability and a critical review of excessive use of force, I want to take this time to review the past year of Practicum and pose two questions for anthropologists and police agencies alike: do police agencies need anthropologists? And what might that look like?

Since its debut, Practicum has explored the practice of applied anthropologists working on issues of policing, criminal justice, juvenile justice and corrections. I’ve been remarkably heartened to see that a community of practitioners exists who have successfully applied the lens and research methodologies of anthropology to these issues. These anthropologists have “produced anthropology” (nod to the 2014 AAA Annual Meeting) in practice in juvenile justice, corrections, and policing and raised the profile of how anthropologists- through theoretical orientation, research techniques, analysis, and praxis- can contribute to the improvement of justice systems.

With this in mind, and a new year approaching, I want to propose a bit of radical thinking. Perhaps it won’t be radical to some of you, and perhaps for others, it might be a bit controversial. But with the events of Ferguson, continued fatalities in interactions between police and people with behavioral health disorders, and the tensions that structural violence and inequalities produce, I see a place for anthropologists placed within police departments. In an excellent panel discussion hosted by the Urban Institute and featuring Chief Ron Brown (Ret.), Chief Cathy Lanier, and Dr. Tracie Keesee, which I encourage you to view, I was struck by the progressive vision of policing and law enforcement that was presented. However, recalling my own experience in working with police officers, I know how hard implementation- even of the best vision- can be, especially within a hierarchical organization. While criminologists have made concrete headways into working within police organizations, anthropologists have not made similar strides. While I can speculate that this can be attributed to the discipline’s historical orientation and notions of appropriate subjects of study and practice, with the emergence of a strong contingent of academic and practicing anthropologists focusing on policing, criminal justice, and security, I find this may be the perfect time to consider how anthropologists can work with and within police organizations.

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DragNet

DragNet: November 18 – December 1, 2014

Although we here at Anthropoliteia don't have any “existential answers" about how to process the recent events in Ferguson, we hope to provide a safe space for readers to reflect about and share their reactions.

Although we here at Anthropoliteia don’t have any “existential answers” about how to process the recent events in Ferguson, we hope to provide a safe space for readers to reflect about and share their reactions.

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#Ferguson & Elsewhere, Pedagogy

Anthropoliteia reacts to #Ferguson

It’s hard to know what exactly to say, to think, to feel or how to react at a time like this; even as a scholar of police.  Which is not to say that everything in the case is terribly ambiguous.  Quite the opposite: another young black man has been the victim of a deadly and unaccountable state violence in front of our very eyes.  I suppose the disorientation lay in how to move forward, and for that I have no strong answers.

Embed from Getty Images

Having said that, several of us at Anthropolitiea have been active on Twitter, I imagine in an effort to make sense of exactly that existential question. This is not dissimilar to my own reaction during and after the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman affair.  Below are some of our thoughts, as we form them:

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DragNet

DragNet: October 21 – November 3, 2014

It is often the data that is not there that reveals what is most important. I was reminded of this fact again by Scott Vollum's post, The Ghost of the Condemned: What the Death Penalty Leaves Behind, Captured in a Snapshot

It is often the data that is not there that reveals what is most important. I was reminded of this fact again by Scott Vollum’s post, The Ghost of the Condemned: What the Death Penalty Leaves Behind, Captured in a Snapshot

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Book Reviews

A new grammar of public security in Brazil

Mesquita Neto, Paulo. 2011. Ensaios sobre segurança cidadã [Essays on Citizen Security]. São Paulo: Quartier Latin/Fapesp.

Review of: Mesquita Neto, Paulo. 2011. Ensaios sobre segurança cidadã [Essays on Citizen Security]. São Paulo: Quartier Latin/Fapesp.  By Daniel Silva

Why has Brazil’s 1988 democratic constitution advanced in promoting broad civil and economic rights while leaving (almost) unchanged the regulation of the police and armed forces? What’s the impact of Brazil’s Human Rights National Program in recent efforts of democratizing Brazilian society and building up an alternative to a minimal neoliberal state? Why have some types of public security policies been defined without much clarity, especially those that target the non-white-elites? These are some of the questions that Paulo de Mesquita Neto – a Brazilian scholar in political science who prematurely died in 2008 – asks in this collection of essays that he gathered under the rubric of Essays on citizen security. The book as a whole bears the imprint of an author striving to combine the vocabulary and syntax of democratic rule with a scrutiny of public security in Latin America – a grammar not too simple to practice in a continent that during the 1960s and 1970s surrendered to several authoritarian regimes whose marks are still noticeable, if not overly prominent, in current political culture and public debates.

The book as a whole bears the imprint of an author striving to combine the vocabulary and syntax of democratic rule with a scrutiny of public security in Latin America

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Interrogations

Interrogations: Heath Cabot and William Garriot on Policing and Contemporary Governance

Palgrave MacMillan (2013)

Policing and Contemporary Governance: the anthropology of police in practice. William Garriott, editor (Palgrave MacMillan 2013).

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to introduce yet another in our series of new features: Interrogations, an interview series with authors and other people of potential interest to our readers.  The term ‘interrogation’ comes  the Latin inter “between” and rogare “question”.  It thus originally meant something like “to question between” (as opposed, for example, to examiner “to test, try, torture”).  Our plans for the series, which will edited by Kristen Drybread & Johanna Romer, are aimed at exploring this sense of the term.
We are happy to present to you the first in this series,  a conversation between Heath Cabot & William Garriott focused on Garriott’s edited volume Policing and Contemporary Governance: The Anthropology of Police in Practice (2013).
 

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