Black Lives Matter Syllabus Project

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus Project, Week 16: Victor Kumar on James Baldwin, Margaret Mead and Ethnographic Approaches to Studying Race

The editors of Anthropoliteia are happy to relaunch the second semester of 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, Victor Kumar discusses James Baldwin and Margaret Mead and Ethnographic Approaches to Studying Race.
 

anthropol-jan-23

Near the intended end of the party, my friend announced the peculiar reason for my being in America at the present time and invited the company to tell them their frank opinions on the Negro problem. For a moment a somewhat awkward silence descended upon our party, a queer feeling that our relation of human understanding was broken. (Myrdal 1944, 33)

Years ago, I had an unsettling experience while helping to teach a course on ethnographic methods. Focusing on the concept of neighborhood in Baltimore, the course was designed to train students in basic methods while at the same time honing their curiosity and ability to formulate anthropological questions. The goal was to give the sense of ethnography as, on the one hand, comprising longstanding and relatively stable procedures while, on the other, entailing a creative process that overturns and transforms itself as it moves along the contours of a field.

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In the Journals

In the Journals – January 2017

Surveillance Camera

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. I do apologize for the delay in getting our monthly review to you, therefore, this edition will cover both December 2016 and January 2017. The holidays have come and gone, and as we enter into a new year, we here at Anthropoliteia will continue to bring you the best and most interesting recent publications month to month.

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Black Lives Matter Syllabus Project

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus, Week 2: Elizabeth Chin on bell hooks (and Sidney Mintz, Voltaire, and Kara Walker)

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, Elizabeth Chin discusses bell hook’s “The Oppositional Gaze.”
 

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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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In the Journals

In the Journals – May 2016

Mine Warning

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.

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In the Journals

In the Journals – February 2016

 

Operation Unified Response

 

Welcome back to In the Journals, a look at recent publications in the world of security, law, crime, and governance. 

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Announcements, Conferences

Anthropoliteia Sessions @ #AAA2015

Hello, Dear Reader, it is that very special time of year again: The American Anthropological Association’s Annual Meeting. This year in Denver Colorado. As impassioned followers of this blog know, we like to curate a list of sessions and papers of interest to our readers.  This year we’ve created a Google Calendar, which you can find embedded below and import into your own.  Be sure to keep an eye on @anthropoliteia’s twitter feed as well, where you’ll find coverage of the #AAA2015 hashtag with which several participants will be live-tweeting sessions ad other events.

Beyond that, we’d like to call your attention to two sessions in particular, which are direct offshoots of projects and collaborations on this blog:

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In the Journals

In the Journals – June 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. Summer may be in full swing, and with that comes BBQs, swimming pools, and vacations, but we here at Anthropoliteia hope that you, as a reader, can still make time to check up on these publications and these topics of interest.

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DragNet

DragNet: April 20 – May 3, 2015

"I think you have to have a shared collective memory of the past to recognize another human being," writes Lawrence Jackson. His post, On Becoming More Human, examines the recent protests against police violence in Baltimore from his perspective as an African American man.

“I think you have to have a shared collective memory of the past to recognize another human being,” writes Lawrence Jackson. His post, On Becoming More Human, examines the recent protests against police violence in Baltimore from his perspective as an African American man.

I was happy to see Illana Feldman’s new book, Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza Under Egyptian Rule, make the rounds on our twitter feed last month. In it, my former Anthropology professor at George Washington University discusses the topics of surveillance, control and police violence in Gaza during the period of Egyptian rule. Disclaimer: you’ll want to block off a few hours to tap into this one…it’s addictive from the start!

“I think you have to have a shared collective memory of the past to recognize another human being,” writes Lawrence Jackson for n plus one magazine. His post, On Becoming More Human, examines the recent protests against police violence in Baltimore from his perspective as an African American man. Jackson is a professor of African American Studies and English at Emory University, and is the author of the 2012 memoir, My Father’s Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War. His post undoubtedly earns my vote for “best of the month”- if you have time for one (and only one) read today, this is it.

Those interested in coverage about the tragic police-related death of Freddie Gray shouldn’t miss NPR’s Weekend Edition that we shared late last month. In it, Scott Simon recounts his experience walking among the residents of West Baltimore in the wake of police protests. As the title attests, to many West Baltimoreans, the “largest gang is, in fact, the police.” We also recommend Ta-Nehisi Coates’ post, Nonviolence as Compliance, which was featured via The Atlantic.

What does the concept of “touch” mean, in a policing context? Mark Greif reflects on this question and more in his post, Seeing Through Police. He discusses the “rules” of police-citizen contact (i.e.- they touch you, you keep your hands to yourself), its many functions (intimidation, reassurance, “traffic direction”) and forms (hands vs. batons). What’s perhaps most intriguing about this post is its dual -and rather empathetic- consideration of police as police, and police as people. At the same time, it presents a critical and well-balanced portrait of modern police practices.

Finally, we are pleased to offer continuing coverage of the American Anthropological Association’s developing initiatives regarding police brutality. AAA recently announced they’ll be offering a working group to monitor racialized police brutality and extrajudicial violence. Co-chairs include David Simmons, Marla Frederick and Shalini Shankar. You can view the Working Group charge here.

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: 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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