In the Journals

In the Journals – August 2016

Sailors_assigned_to_Maritime_Expeditionary_Security_Squadron

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. We are at Anthropoliteia continue to bring you journal articles and book reviews of interest as the summer winds down and we all get ready for the upcoming semester.

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

In the Journals – April 2015

A fully armed MQ-9 Reaper taxis down an Afghanistan runway

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. With winter semesters coming to an end and summers plans beginning to come together, we hope you’ll have a bit of free time to see what these new publications have to offer.

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In The News: Police-Community Relations

TORONTO – A Toronto police officer recently apologized for suggesting that women could prevent sexual assault by not dressing “like sluts” during a campus safety information session at York University last month.  Toronto police spokesman, Mark Pugash, stated that the officer’s remarks were “diametrically opposed to the way in which [they] train [their] people, the way in which [they] train [their] investigators and the way in which [they] write about sexual assault.”  Although the officer has been disciplined, many -including  Mila Guidorizzi, part of York University’s Sexual Assault Survivors’ Support Line- believe that this cannot make up for the damage that may have been caused by the Toronto officer’s insinuation that women are to blame for sexual assault as it may decrease the likelihood that survivors of sexual assault will report their assaults or seek counseling.  Others, such as the vice-president of campaigns and advocacy for the York Federation of Students Darshika Selvasivam, believes the Toronto police’s procedures for handling sexual assault cases should be evaluated by a third party as current police training  “clearly isn’t sufficient enough because this officer clearly felt comfortable (making the comments) despite the training that he had received.”  Toronto police asserted that they have worked with a number of outside organizations to create an adequate training program for sexual assault investigators and maintains that the officer in question does not represent the force.

SAN JOSE – Facing increasing numbers of racial profiling and other bias allegations, the San Jose police department has broadened its definition of profiling to include “any biased behavior at any time during an encounter with the public.” Prior to the change, San Jose’s Police Duty Manual stated that an officer must not “initiate a contact solely” based on factors including race, color, nationality and gender,” however, it is difficult to prove biased policing has taken place under this definition as officers could argue the person in question was stopped for a valid reason such as a broken taillight of failing to signal.  While the new definition does not directly address this issue, the city’s independent police auditor believes the change is a “huge” move in the right direction, noting past attempts to get the previous police chief to address issues of biased policing.  It is hoped that the new definition with help rebuild the “strained” relationship between San Jose’s minority communities and the police.  This is just one change in a series of alterations to the department’s operation.  Last year, the new police chief stopped his officers from impounding the cars of unlicensed drivers who were picked up for minor traffic violations, a practice many believed to target undocumented Latino immigrants.

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