Welcome back to In the Journals! This ongoing series aims to bridge conversations that are often siloed by discipline, geographical region, language, and race. One of our goals is to make sure that the diverse voices currently reporting their research on policing, crime, law, security, and punishment are presented here. We are continuing our catch-up and also reaching back further to develop article collections around different questions and themes, with this post highlighting articles on police abolition both historically and in this present moment.Continue reading
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. It’s been a while since the last post so this time we are going to try to play catch-up, so it might be a little longer than usual. The particular articles for this post that range from January 2018 to October 2018.
In January, Rosana Pinheiro-Machado published an article in Global Networks entitled “Rethinking the informal and criminal economy from a global commodity chain perspective: China-Paraguay-Brazil”. In this article the author puts to work 15 years of multi-sited research in China, Paraguay, and Brazil to present how products and economic practices oscillate between categories of il/legality. This piece does a clear job of presenting the immense variation in legal statuses that products take on in a way that extends the concept of the integrated in/formal economy to include what is often considered as a separate, “criminal” sector by social scientists, governments, and international organizations. Pinheiro-Machado observes toys and clothes, that are produced legally in China as licensed material, as they move through Paraguay’s minimally regulated market to their destination in Brazil, all the while slipping between degrees of formality, legality, and illicitness. Often what is a legal, unbranded “knock-off” product, such as a toy or article of clothing, is deemed as illegal because it is assumed to have been smuggled in because of its assumed Chinese origin and the fact that it is being sold in street markets. Despite the fact that the same product is often sold in more formal retail settings such as storefronts, who very well may receive products that have legally and illegally entered the country, informal street markets suffer violent and excessive policing measures for selling such products.
In February, Antipode published an article with the title “Securing the Return: How Enhanced US Border Enforcement Fuels Cycles of Debt Migration” by Richard L. Johnson and Murphy Woodhouse. The article is the result of qualitative research that took place between 2012 and 2015 in Guatemala, which focused on the experiences and motivations, particularly as they pertain to debt, of individuals who had attempted, failed, and/or succeeded in unauthorized migration to the United States. The authors make an important argument for the importance of debt in migration to the United States from Central America. In an economic setting that often has little to offer individuals without a significant amount of capital in the form of crops, land, or business, people often find the best option is going into debt to take a chance on arriving in the United States to fetch a much better price for their labor. Increased policing presence and intensity on the US border with Mexico has meant deportation for many of these people, which leaves those who took on debt with far less means to pay it off than expected when they accepted their loans. In turn, this drives many to gamble with additional loans. Here, Johnson et. al effectively portray debt as “a central enabler, driver, and outcome” of migration. The authors argue to bring the significance of debt to conversations on US border policy and policing practices.
In April in Criminology and Criminal Justice published a study in Helsinki, Finland by Elsa Saarikkomäki with the title “Young people’s conceptions of trust and confidence in the crime control system: Differences between public and private policing”. Saarikkomäki carried out a study with girls and boys between the ages of 14 and 17 in Helsinnki between 2012-2013 who had encounters with police and security guards in an investigation on how youths understand private and public policing. The study focuses on youths because of their particular relationship with public and semi-public places (malls, shopping centers, etc.) and the security guards that patrol them. The author takes on the extremely complicated task of trying to parse out youths’ ideas and conceptualizations of the differentiation between public and private police, discovering that youths did not necessarily see private security officers as different from state police officers because they were hired by companies versus the government. They saw private guards more as unnecessary members of a broader bureaucracy, for whom they had less trust and confidence than the state police because of reputations and experiences of unprofessional and abusive behavior. However, despite the ambiguity that the teenagers expressed when discussing the difference between private and public police, there still seemed to be a significant separation between the two. Even though teens felt more inclined to distrust security officers for their lack of training, professionalism, or education, and did not comment on how private agents are institutionally separate from police officers, the lack of trust and confidence in guards did not bleed onto feelings towards public police. The author asserts that this is indicative of the complex nature of private policing and how it operates outside of the state, yet simultaneously, within its confines and reinforcement. Private policing, the author concludes, is increasingly prevalent in the western world, and this study suggests how this might affect people’s understandings of and trust in police agents and institutions.
Public Culture published an article in May by Yinon Cohen and Neve Gordon that looks how Israel has historically, as well as currently, employed a combination of legislative, demographic, and cultural tactics to colonize territory. The article titled “Israel’s Biospatial Politics: Territory, Demography, and Effective Control” recounts how the state’s biospatial techniques have heavily reduced the political, economic, and geographic resources of Palestinians and non-Jewish groups in Israel, By classifying land as uninhabited, abandoned, or in possession of the state, historically Palestinian land became free to be populated by Jewish neighborhoods, forcing Palestinians that have remained in Israel to live in enclaves that, unlike their population, haven’t grown. Often, what are historically populated villages and enclaves are not formally recognized, prohibiting connections to basic infrastructure such as power, water, and garbage collection. In addition to land classification, demographic categories are based on religion. This effectively reduces people to one of two broad types, Jewish or Non-Jewish, hiding generational ties that Palestinians have with the land as well as any Arabness that Jews might be attributed with otherwise. It also allows for Jewish foreign residents/citizens to go unmarked and even includes individuals with Jewish familial or marital ties, while maintaining a stark separation from Palestinians.
In another article from Criminology and Criminal Justice published in May, “Policing as a performing art? The contradictory nature of the contemporary police performance management”, Jacques de Maillard and Stephen Savage examine police performance measurement and management systems in England. The authors use a qualitative approach in assessing the efficacy of new “advanced” forms of performance management, which they define as being qualitatively focused on problem solving, flexibility, and long-term orientations. Despite administrations attempts at rolling out these new systems of performance management to move away from box-ticking, senior and middle management still relied heavily on numbers, using them to compare themselves with other precincts. They did this as opposed to interacting reflexively to their own specific contexts, largely because of funding and reward systems that favored better numbers. The logic of performance measurement among officers, supervisors, and the institutions at large are conflicted and contradictory. This case study exemplifies of how policing is not just a practice of ethical and moral negotiation, but that whatever good policing is or might be is subjective, contextual, and immensely complex. The contradictions that the English police experience when critically engaging with a system of performance assessment speaks to the consistent struggle that even officers have with what policing actually is.
In August, the journal City & Society published an article named ‘“We don’t belong there”: New Geographies of Homelessness, Addiction, and Social Control in Vancouver’s Inner City” by Danya Fast and David Cunningham. The authors explore how gentrification and poverty management tactics are reshaping the lived experiences of marginalized drug users in Vancouver. The article is based on eight years of research on the part of the first author and 14 years of activism and ethnography from the other. The article examines how poverty management and other government subsidized forms of social control are affecting addiction, homelessness, and urban space. The management of homelessness and addiction, the authors argue, have pressured marginalized youths in Vancouver to take on, in Deleuzean terms, particular “lines of flight” that often lead to further displacement and potential disaster. Instead of having nowhere to go, homelessness became more of an endless cycle of transition and eviction from housing projects. Fast and Cunningham argue that the “compassionate” city’s famous approaches to managing poverty, homelessness, and addiction has more so displaced and rearranged these issues as opposed to deal with them. The article is a solid example of testing policies and programs through analysis of the reality that unfolds on the ground level, which is especially important in the case of Vancouver, which has been used as a model for management in other cities.
The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology published an article in September by Maarit Forde that deals with the effects of hierarchies of ethnicity, gender, and class work in conjunction with infrastructure and legislation in Trinidad to affect daily experiences of space and civic engagement in peripheral enclaves and neighborhoods. In the article titled “Fear, Segregation, and Civic Engagement in Urban Trinidad”, Forde traces contemporary social hierarchies in Trinidad to their historical roots in colonialism. Through housing projects and infrastructural design, different areas have been cut off or hidden, with limited access to resources and transportation, many of which have been stigmatized through media coverage and rumors based on the prevalence of gang activity and violence. This stigma works to keep outsiders from other parts of the area out of the enclaves, while simultaneously generating fear for many who live on the inside, leading them to stay inside with locked windows and doors. Because of these pressures, much of what residents in these enclaves concern themselves with in terms of civic life pertain almost exclusively to the communities in which they live, limiting their participation in public life. A result of this is an endemic value system based on “respectability” that some residents aspire to in order to separate themselves from being lower class, othered, or less desirable.
Briefly returning to Guatemala, an article by Kevin O’Neill was published in Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space in September on how fast food restaurants navigate the insecurity of Guatemala City, listed as one of the world’s most dangerous cities. The article, entitled “Disenfranchised: Mapping red zones in Guatemala City”, explains how fast food chains in Guatemala City’s largest and most dangerous zone, Zona 18, determine the addresses to which they can deliver based on the risk involved with the route that would be taken, which if an area is too dangerous, it is classified as a “red zone”. Despite investment in security guards and systems, some high-end neighborhoods and shopping centers prove to be too dangerous for delivery because the routes needed to arrive are simply too dangerous for risk of robbery or gang extorsion, traffic accidents, poor road conditions, or geographic factors (canyons, blind spots, etc.). However, other areas, such as the prison, or other neighborhoods or enclaves that might have a bad reputation, are very safe to deliver to. O’Neill indexes how this emphasizes the major role that mobility, defined as “sites of transit and passage”, plays in security. In addition to fortified houses and neighborhoods, cases like this one show that security can be more of a question of arriving and leaving as opposed to staying. In contrast to the delivery maps, police maps of the zone classify the entirety of Zone 18 as red based on the amount of reported murders, a heavy-handed generalization that many residents do not take seriously and attribute to the police’s fear of Zone 18. Meanwhile, McDonald’s managers are actively trying to get a cheeseburger in the hand of everyone who wants one, which leads them to engage with the geography of insecurity in a different way than the police. For this fact the maps serve as indicators for the city’s neighborhoods and their overall desirability and security. When people are un able to order a pizza because of their location, it means something.
Finally, in October, Annual Review of Anthropology brings us an article (first posted in July) by Jeffrey T. Martin that is an important and thorough overview on the anthropological sub-field on policing named “Police and Policing”. In this review, Martin considers recent anthropological research on police and policing to make a case for the future of the field. The author starts with a historical survey of ideas of personhood and policing, exploring the dynamics of the relationship between the police, the state, and citizenship. From this survey he argues that the experience of police control on the margins is increasingly defining personhood under late capitalism. Next, the article dives into the relationship between sovereignty and policing, using a wealth of recent ethnographic research on the police to point out the issues with the monolithic descriptions of the police such as those given to us by Weber and Benjamin. Laying out the evidence and indexing officer subjectivity, limited agency, and the complex relationship between police, violence, and sovereignty, the article shows the reader the massive variation in policing practices and cultural notions of what the police are, and what they should do. In considering all this, Martin links police power to larger cultural understandings normalcy, a defining characteristic that separates it from “raw violence”. In doing this he highlights how police work is tethered to the moral systems that underlie and organize the contexts in which policing practices take place, and that the inconsistencies and contradictions of moral systems play a central role in policing.
Like most football fans across the world, I have taken a perverse and personal delight in watching the bloated, jowly patriarchs of FIFA fall, one after another. Not only do I feel that the on-going investigations into the misogynistic world of backslapping, ham-handed, wink-wink deal making are confirming my own knowledge and intuition, but also that the doors to the smoky back rooms of FIFA have been prised open, exposing a global coterie of sycophants and their clever, intertwined, and illegal schemes.
FIFA and its (two) presidents have cozied up to dictators and presidents, popes and prime-ministers, conferring upon themselves all of the pomp, power, and impunity of a head of state
For the last six years, I have been investigating how the hosting of the World Cup and Olympics impacts upon urban and social relations in Brazil. In this work, I have exposed how the intricate shell game of FIFA and the IOC extracts maximum wealth from host cities and countries while at the same time militarizing and privatizing urban space, violating human rights, and leaving legacies of debt and unfulfilled promises. For those who can afford it, the party is fantastic. Once the floodlights have burned out, the hangover lasts for decades. In Brazil, the links between big business, big government, and big sport are opaque and insidious, yet the connections to the most recent FIFA-crisis are all too clear. Brazilian companies and executives are in the spotlight, again, for all the wrong reasons.
The most surprising development is that it has happened at all. Since 1974, FIFA and its (two) presidents have cozied up to dictators and presidents, popes and prime-ministers, conferring upon themselves all of the pomp, power, and impunity of a head of state. They have showered riches upon themselves as the self-appointed stewards of the game and like the Euro-aristocracy resident on Mt. Olympus, have made others rich in the process. The complex systems of patronage and peonage that define FIFA´s political philosophy are the same as those used by colonial powers. Big egos in white bodies (with apologies to Jack Warner and Issa Hayatu) rule this world by manufacturing consent through the distribution of favours, suppressing dissent through the militarization of urban space and the curtailment of civil liberties, and choreographing their marionettes who, in accordance with the Brazilian World Cup slogan, are “all in one rhythm.”
will there be anything left of FIFA? Or rather, is it reasonable to think that FIFA can disassociate from the same kinds of oppression, violence, and injustice that define global consumer capitalism?
Predictably, it was from FIFA´s band of servile minions – morbid troglodytes like Chuck Blazer, hyperbolic shysters like Jack Warner, and half-arsed opportunists like Ricardo Texeira – that the tightly wound FIFA-world began to unravel. Too much money flowing too quickly to the wrong people though the wrong country for too long, coupled with the FBI´s charming insouciance for the real-politik of global sporting affairs has resulted in a very hard, very determined tug on a lot of rotten strings. Among the unanswerable questions is, if it all unravels, will there be anything left of FIFA? Or rather, is it reasonable to think that FIFA can disassociate from the same kinds of oppression, violence, and injustice that define global consumer capitalism? There has never been a period in the era of mass-communications when FIFA was not corrupt, so how will it suddenly emerge? Will cutting off some heads of the scabrous FIFA-Hydra change the nature of the beast? While behind the scenes deals are being struck, these desperate attempts to consolidate power are finally in conflict with an exasperated public, the FBI, and a thirsty press corps. Somehow, despite the rot, we are still captivated by football.
As the events of the past weeks have unfolded, the depth and extent of FIFA´s criminal network has become evident even to casual observers. The sudden resignation of FIFA´s communications officer, Walter de Gregorio (responsible for Blatter´s 2011 re-election campaign), may be a sign that there is no message to deliver, no more damage control to be done. It is almost impossible to keep track of the threads, but some of the more intriguing are that:
- The Germans may have swapped arms for a Saudia Ariabian vote to get the 2006 WC
- FIFA authorized a $10 million USD bribe to then-CONCACAF president Jack Warner
- Jack Warner split this with his deputy Chuck Blazer, who used the money to keep a Trump Tower apartment for his cats
- The 2018 and 2022 WC votes were bought, as were 1998, 2006, 2010, and 2014. The 2002 WC was not exempt, either, but corruption allegations against corrupt officials were never pursued
- Nike, the Brazilian Football Confederation, the ex-president of Barcelona, Sandro Rossell, and the Qatari royal families have exchanged hundreds of millions of dollars between them
- FIFA paid the Irish FA 5 million Euros to not make noise about being wrongly disqualified from the 2010 WC.
- All of the television broadcasting rights contracts for the WC, as well as the Copa Libertadores, Copa América, and other tournaments in Brazil, and much of South America, were illicitly gained
This list is far from comprehensive and spans several modes of corruption, ones that affect governance, publicity, as well as actual decisions on the field. One hopes that in the coming months, the details will emerge to fill in these categories. In the meantime, everything – from marketing contracts to penalty decisions to hotel accommodations – is tainted with corruption.
Journalists and academics that report on and research global sport had yet to touch the bottom of the fetid pool, but even for us it still comes as somewhat of a surprise that the rest of the world can now read about match-fixing, illegal transfers, human trafficking, money laundering, Swiss bank accounts, bribery, racketeering, falsification of contracts, etc. as an integral part of the way football is organized. With the recent politicization of labour rights for NCAA athletes, the banal cruelty of playing a World Cup on turf, and the destruction of human life in the NFL and its subsidiaries, perhaps there is a chance that sport and politics will find a place in the public consciousness.
This is not about using sport as a force for good, or as FIFA claims “developing football everywhere.” Sport is about power
In reality, the FIFA saga is a captivatingly complex morality play being acted out on a global stage with curious twist: the chorus is hundreds of millions strong and may be able to influence the plot. Will the hood-eyed prince, Michel Platini, make his move for the presidency now? Will the court jester, Zico, show that he can perform better than Texeira? This is not about using sport as a force for good, or as FIFA claims “developing football everywhere.” Sport is about power and we should be aware that our places in the audience impact on its exercise.
We know World Cup games are bought and sold. We know that the WWC is being played on turf because football associations are on FIFA´s leash and have more power than the players. We know that thousands of kids are trafficked across borders, sold into prostitution, or are molested, mistreated, or die because of a lack of medical attention. For every Dani Alves or Neymar, there are a hundred thousand broken legs and a million broken dreams in Brazil alone. We know of the bribery behind World Cup bids, the illegal and blindingly idiotic stadium building contracts, the militarization of cities for FIFA VIPs, dirty billion dollar television contracts, institutionalized racism and sexism, and a never-ending series of lies, deceptions, and platitudes. There is no “Fair Play” in or with FIFA.
As a reminder of how short our memories are, it is nearly a year to the day that the 2014 World Cup kicked off in Brazil. Of the twelve stadiums, in the twelve cities, ten are in serious difficulty. The only two that are not going through financial and political turmoil are the two built by clubs in Curitiba and Porto Alegre. Of all the football associations implicated in the current FIFA hullabaloo, the Brazilian federation is the most embroiled. The Brazilian João Havelange was FIFA´s modern architect and his granddaughter, an executive director of the 2014 World Cup, famously quipped about the R$ 30 billion outlay, “however much was spent, or stolen, already has been” [so why worry?].
None of the “legacy” promises made by FIFA has come to fruition in Brazil. On fleeing the country as protests erupted around the Confederations´ Cup in 2013, Blatter announced a $ 100 million USD “legacy fund”, that would be administered by the CBF. This is the Brazilian organization recently run by a man now sitting in a Zurich jail house and currently headed up by a man who fled Zurich and ran straight to Brasilia where he was honoured by senators and congressmen. Of course, FIFA regulations prevent the Brazilian government from interfering in CBF affairs, a position that is at least consistent with the surrendering of territorial sovereignty that comes with hosting the World Cup. This takes the form of tax exemptions, restrictions on advertising, and the ability to close any street in a host city, at any time, for any reason.
And now, as if to prove the point that the Canadian World Cup doesn´t matter, the Copa America kicks off in Chile, a country with long and painful associations between football and politics. In the same way we should remember those tortured and murdered in Santiago´s National Stadium, we should also remember that the same people who organized, broadcast, and advertise at this tournament are implicated in the shambolic governance of football. The show goes on with the same delirious media coverage, the same lack of critical reflection, the same people making more money than ever. It may be that FIFA and football are beyond reform as long as the crowds pour their money in and conform to FIFA´s inexhaustible list of prohibited behaviours. Is it possible that the global chorus of football fans can only hope to sing their teams on to victory, while the dark-suited protagonists squirrel away their millions? Can anything change if we only watch the ball?Christopher Gaffney, PhD (University of Texas at Austin) is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich. His work investigates the impact of major sporting events on urban centers and their populations.
My book, Living with Insecurity in a Brazilian Favela, examines the social production of insecurity in a poor neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, paying particular attention to how multiple, overlapping forms of urban violence impact the residents of a neighborhood that I call Caxambu. I try to show how the neighborhood is experienced as a profoundly contradictory space. On the one hand, it is a place of social intimacy, pride, and creativity, reflecting the deep social ties that bind many of its residents and the years of work that they’ve put into building their homes, streets and alleys. Yet at the same time it is often a space of social marginalization and unpredictably lethal violence, reflecting how drug-trafficking and policing conspire to disorganize daily life.
“The flow is not one way, (defense) institutions also return home transformed,” writes Stuart Schrader in his post Police Empire. Stuart helped us kick-off the month of September, picking up again with the theme of police militarization. Perhaps a surprise for many to learn, Stuart discusses how militarization and “blurred” policing boundaries are hardly novel developments. Though these topics reached an apex shortly after the death of Michael Brown, the tendency of police to apply foreign tactics in home territories has been happening for several decades.
Sasha Goldstein of the New York Daily News continued the militarization thread with the story of a Texas man who was shot by police recently at a Texas truck stop. Though some officers were armed with AR-15s, more attention was gained by the (now notorious) “fist bump” exchanged between two officers. The move was caught on video following the shooting. Despite being armed with a non-lethal BB gun, the man reportedly raised the replica and pointed it at officers before they open fired.
Between police militarization and never-ending streams about officer use of force, many are wondering what if anything is being done to ensure the effective monitoring of police in the field. If you are among those scratching their heads, be sure to catch NPR’s feature “Can Body Cameras Civilize Police Encounters?” Where the benefits of badge cameras are easily perceived by the public, the lesser-known “cons” (and implementation difficulties) are often overlooked. In addition to Ferguson, officers in several jurisdictions (including Florida and soon, Washington, DC) are already adopting the technology.
David Greene wins this week for favorite “off beat topic of September-so-far,” covering the mandate for NYPD officers to attend social media 101 training. In case you forgot, the reason behind the training stems back to the April 2014 twitter campaign disaster, #myNYPD.
And last but so-not-least, the folks at Anthropoliteia were pleased to offer not one but two new posts for your reading pleasure. The first, A new grammar of public security in Brazil, was featured September 1st in our Book Reviews section. Daniel Silva reviews Paulo Mesquita Neto’s “Essays on Civilian Security” (2011). We also welcomed back In the Journals, which offers a bi-monthly rundown of recent academic publications. Be sure to check out August’s highlights!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!
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