Black Lives Matter Syllabus Project, Pedagogy

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus Project, Week 18: Avram Bornstein on the Statistical Geographies of Racialized Policing

The editors of Anthropoliteia are happy to continue an ongoing series The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, which will mobilize anthropological work as a pedagogical exercise addressing the confluence of race, policing and justice. You can see a growing bibliography of resources via our Mendeley feed.  In this entry,  Avram Bornstein discusses how mapping projects can reinforce problematic racial geographies.

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Black Lives Matter Syllabus Project

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, Week 5: Meg Stalcup and Charles Hahn on Technology, Surveillance, and Security

The editors of Anthropoliteia are happy to present the latest entry in on ongoing series The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, which will mobilize anthropological work as a pedagogical exercise addressing the confluence of race, policing and justice.  You can see a growing bibliography of resources via our Mendeley feed.   In this entry, Meg Stalcup and Charles Hahn discuss technology, surveillance, and security in their article “Cops, Cameras and the Policing of Ethics“.
 
Screen grab from post by SPDbodywornvideo CC BY-SA 4.0 2015 by Meg Stalcup

Screen grab from post by SPDbodywornvideo CC BY-SA 4.0 2015 by Meg Stalcup

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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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DragNet

DragNet: April 6 – 19, 2015

In an unusual demonstration against Denver police, supporters of Jessie Hernandez have allegedly been expressing their discontent by stealing cars. Hernandez was fatally shot by police in January.

In an unusual demonstration against Denver police, supporters of Jessie Hernandez have allegedly been expressing their discontent by stealing cars. Hernandez was fatally shot by police in January.

The police-involved killing of Walter Scott dominates policing news by far this month. Video footage, shot with the cell phone of a bystander who witnessed the event, seems to offer key (and yet incomplete) evidence of how the shooting evolved. Scott had apparently been stopped during a “routine traffic stop” for a broken tail-light. Although the video recording did not capture the full nature of the altercation, it did capture the officer proceeding to shoot Scott in the back while he was running more than 20 feet away from the officer.

Edward Bryant II, head of North Charleston’s NAACP chapter was among those interviewed about the incident by Martin Kaste on NPR’s Morning Edition. While addressing the moment of the film that captured the officer “dropping something” -perhaps the very Taser Scott was charged with stealing- Bryant says that it “reflects something very distasteful…like it’s already been practiced. It’s been already done.” Among organizations taking a stance against the continuation of racialized police violence is the American Anthropological Association, who’s post we shared via Jeff Martin. Stay tuned for their specific initiatives regarding policing culture, which are to be listed soon.

All Things Considered also joined the law enforcement culture conversation, with Audie Cornish’s interview with Seth Stoughton. Stoughton is an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina’s School of Law. He suggests the paradign of policing in American is is need of a major makeover; suggesting the current “warrior mindset” should be exchanged for one that is conducive to a “guardian” role.
A 73-year-old undercover Tulsa reserve deputy sheriff who fatally shot an unarmed black man during an undercover operation gone wrong turned himself in on Tuesday last week. He allegedly mistook his gun for his taser; fatally wounding the unarmed man. Robert Bates has been charged with second degree manslaughter involving culpable negligence. He was released on $25,000 bail and is awaiting trial, according to Lindsey Bever and Sarah Larimer of the Washington Post.
In an unusual demonstration against the Denver police, supporters of Jessie Hernandez have allegedly been expressing their discontent by stealing cars. As reported by Michael Roberts for Westword, Hernandez was fatally shot by police back in January after two officers responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle. According to one source, 126 vehicles have been stolen in the area since the beginning of the year, which is nearly double the amount recorded for the same period last year.

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: 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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Tip of the Cap

Un-silencing the Gang: A Past Retold in the Present that Shapes Possible Futures

We would like to welcome Laurence Ralph in this latest edition of our feature, Tip of the Cap.
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I got my start in gang research from working with non-profits. There, I met a sixty-eight year-old gang member named Mr. Otis. At first it surprised me that someone so old would adamantly affiliate with one of Chicago’s most notorious gangs, the Divine Knights. But I soon learned that the idea of “the gang” as a group of violent criminals meant something very different to Mr. Otis. For him, the gang was an organization that could actually improve the community, if given the chance. And he wanted to curate a gang exhibit to prove it. Continue reading
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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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