Our first contact with the Fazenda dos Mineiros community was by chance encounter. We were invited to visit the home of a friend, Gilberto Lima, a community leader who works in Rio de Janeiro and São Gonçalo on children’s rights, among other issues of social justice. Gilberto was the uncle of a friend back in the US who helped one of us prepare for our respective Fulbright terms, and for hospitality’s sake, he invited us over for lunch. What we didn’t know was how much the visit would influence our nine months in Brazil.
News and social media around the world are carrying stories about the tear-gassed transportation strikers in São Paulo, violence and conflict with the police in Rio’s favelas, and – witty but no less serious – John Oliver’s scathing explanation of the problems with the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which drew on major media reports about the organization’s well-known illegal cash-for-contracts corruption, and also its scandalously legal pillaging of World Cup host countries.
The scene was impeccably staged. The Special Operations Police Battalion (commonly referred to as BOPE and famously depicted in the film Elite Squad and its sequel) had set up a temporary command center on the edge of the plaza. More than a hundred of their police, armed to the teeth, with bulletproof vests and helmets, were milling around in the sweltering heat with nothing to do after taking control of the area without a shot being fired. Sky, the television company, had set up a small table under an umbrella and was hoping to sign up residents for their cable package. A helicopter made low passes over the plaza. City sanitation workers pushed around piles of garbage, pretending to work. In the midst of all of this, BOPE police were giving rides to kids on several horses as dozens of journalists snapped photos of the delighted children. Later in the afternoon, BOPE raised their flag alongside the Brazilian national flag in the middle of the plaza. With much pomp and circumstance, Complexo da Maré, the largest group of favelas in Rio de Janeiro, had officially begun the pacification process.
Located in the sprawling, industrial northern zone of the city, Complexo da Maré is a cluster of 16 favelas with a population of roughly 130,000. It is a public security concern because it is home to several non-state armed actors (two separate gang factions and a militia) and is located at the intersection of three of the major traffic arteries that connect the international airport to the rest of the city. I have been residing in Maré for the past year conducting dissertation field research. This has allowed me the opportunity to witness BOPE operations first hand and interview residents and community leaders about the tenuous and shifting public security situation. I will argue that BOPE’s pattern of abusive tactics and violence comprised an overall strategy to threaten and terrorize these communities into submission in an effort to “retake” these favela territories. And while such a strategy may have produced more effective tactical operations and short-term results, it is counter-productive to the pacification process in the long run and requires a major reassessment by the public security apparatus moving forward. Continue reading
Brazil’s favela “pacification” policy, implemented by the state government of Rio de Janeiro beginning in 2008, is the most recent example of efforts by the Brazilian authorities to produce security. Coming before Brazil hosts the 2014 World Cup this June, and before Rio hosts the Olympics in 2016, and tackling that most visible and now internationally-renowned symbol of urban chaos – the city’s hillside favelas – the policy has attracted widespread attention. The Rio authorities have lost no opportunity to dramatize the supposed “take-over” of favelas by the army and police – often planting the Brazilian flag in neighborhoods “rescued” from drug traffickers – and the UPP (Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora, or Police Pacifying Unit) policy has become symbolic of a wider attempt by Brazilian authorities to create a safe urban landscape. Yet events in the past two years have called the UPP’s success into question. Shoot-outs between drug-dealers and police in several favelas where UPP units are in place, and a massive protest by residents of the favelas of Pavão-Pavãozinho and Cantagalo after the suspicious death of Douglas “DG” Pereira, have brought media attention to those who question the policy’s effectiveness.
In the midst of all this visibility and scrutiny of the UPP policy, several fundamental assumptions about the “pacification” policy often go unexamined. Drawing upon my own history of observing changes and continuities in policing in Brazil, and especially in Rio, for over twenty years, I would like to problematize these guiding assumptions which have often framed depictions of the pacification policy by both the media and Rio’s policy-makers. Continue reading
Since people seemed to find it helpful last year, I’ve decided to try and make A@AAA an annual feature. So here you go, my annual round-up of police, crime and security events at this year’s American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings. As always, if you know about a session or paper that I’ve missed, let me know in the comments section and I’ll add it to the list.
Wednesday, Nov. 17th
- STEFAN LE COURANT — Names Written on the Wall: Understanding Graffiti in Alien Detention Places in France as part of the panel MIGRATORY SPACES OF INCLUSION AND EXCLUSION, Studio 3, Second Floor, Marriott
- DANIEL MAHER — Trash Talkin’ and Resurrectin’ Lawmen in Hell on the Border: African American Identity, Performance, and Representation in Fort Smith, Arkansas as part of the panel COUNTER-MEMORIES, Salon H, Third Floor, Marriott
- MEGAN CALLAGHAN (Bard College) — “Bricking the Peelers”: Children’s Challenges to the Police in Northern Ireland as part of the panel CIRCULATIONS OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY, Southdown, Fourth Floor, Sheraton
- JONATHAN PADWE (Yale University) — Remaking Ethnic Attachments by Fleeing the Police in Cambodia: Rethinking the Place of Jarai in Cambodia After the Refugees Have Moved On, as part of the panel ETHNIC LANDSCAPES AND LANDED ETHNICITIES: ATTACHMENTS, STOPPAGES AND CIRCULATIONS. (Salon H, Third Floor, Marriott)
Thursday, Nov. 18th
- BETWEEN GOVERNMENTALITY AND STATE COERCION: GOVERNING BODIES IN SPACE, Organized by YASSER MUNIF
- ILGIN ERDEM — Dis-Ordering the Urban Space: The Case of May Day Protests in Turkey
- YASSER MUNIF — Disciplinary Spaces and “Lawless Zones” in a French Suburb
- SWATI BIRLA — Revisiting Public and Private Space- Prostitution Regulation in Gujarat
- ERIKA MARQUEZ — Social Movements in the Security State: Territorial Struggles in Valle Del Cauca, Colombia
- PANAYIOTIS MANOLAKOS (Sanhati) — Primary Accumulation qua Developmental Terrorism: Meditations on Political Strategy
- INTERROGATING POLICE, Organized by ERIKA ROBB LARKINS (University of Wisconsin-Madison) & R BRIAN FERGUSON (Rutgers the State University of New Jersey-Newark) , Balcony M, Fourth Floor, Marriott
- R BRIAN FERGUSON (Rutgers the State University of New Jersey-Newark) — Killing Bill: Politics, Policing and Street Violence in the Gangs of New York Era
- AVRAM BORNSTEIN (John Jay College, City University of New York) — Policing, Race and “Color-Blindness” in the US
- ALDO CIVICO (Columbia University) — Policing as Cleansing: Gangs, Militias, and Death Squads in Medellin.
- ERIKA ROBB LARKINS (University of Wisconsin-Madison) — Men in Black and the Golden Gun: Maintaining Disorder in Rio’s Hyper Favela
- RIC CURTIS & TRAVIS WENDEL — Call the Policed: The Evolution of Police Tactics as Seen Through the Experience of Drug Distributors and Drug Users in New York City
- DISCUSSANT: NEIL WHITEHEAD (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
- COPS & CANONS: WHAT IS THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF POLICING AND WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?, Organized by KEVIN KARPIAK (Eastern Michigan University) & WILLIAM GARRIOTT (James Madison University), La Galerie 1, Second Floor, Marriott
- MICHELLE STEWART (University of California-Davis) — “Don’t Dare Me”: A Consideration of Interdisciplinarity and Reflexivity in Policing Practice
- JEFFREY MARTIN (University of Hong Kong) — The Culture of Policing
- BEATRICE JAUREGUI (University of Cambridge) — Police Postings as Cultural Politics: Forces and Relations of State Authority in Northern India
- MEG STALCUP (University of California-Berkeley) — The Battle of Algiers on Main Street: Anthropology and the Policing of Terrorism
- WILLIAM GARRIOTT (James Madison University) — Ethical Failure or Ethical Imperative?: “Lumping It” as Method in the Anthropology of Police
- JULIA HORNBERGER — From Free Health Care to the Care of the Criminal Self as part of the panel SHIFTING SOVEREIGNTIES: CIRCUITS AND COUNTER-CIRCUITS OF KNOWLEDGE,La Galerie 4, Second Floor, Marriott
- KARINA BIONDI (Universidad Federal de São Carlos) — The Political Model of a Collective of Prisoners in São Paulo, Brazil as part of the panel NEW DIRECTIONS IN POLITICAL THEORY, Studio 3, Second Floor, Marriott
Friday, Nov. 19th
- JENNIFER AENGST (University of California-Davis) — The Movements of Adolescents: Youth Policing and Secret Dating in Ladakh, India as part of the panel SEXUALITIES IN ‘OUT-OF-THE-WAY’ PLACES: TRACING INTIMACIES ACROSS BOUNDARIES, Salon 817 & 821, Eighth Floor, Sheraton
- BRIAN LANDE (University of California-Berkeley) & KEVIN KARPIAK (Eastern Michigan University) — ‘Taking the Field’: Thinking ‘Police’ Through the Social Sciences, Thinking ‘Society’ Through Policingas part of the panel BUSINESS ENCOUNTERS: FIELDWORK CONVERSATIONSOrganized by TIMOTHY DE WAAL MALEFYT (BBDO & Parsons, The New School for Design), BRIAN MOERAN (Copenhagen Business School), Balcony N, Fourth Floor, Marriott
- BJORN BERTELSEN — Chamboco, Lynchings, Death Squads and Prisons. Social Ontologies of Violence, Sovereignty and Conflict in Chimoio, Mozambique as part of the panel CONFLICTS ON THE MOVE,Balcony L, Fourth Floor, Marriott
- ROBERT A RUBINSTEIN (Maxwell School, Syracuse University) — Back to the Future?: Peacekeeping and Imperial Policingas part of the panel CONFLICTS ON THE MOVE,Balcony L, Fourth Floor, Marriott
- JENNIFER GOETT (Michigan State University) — Afro-Descendants and Counternarcotics Policing in Multicultural Nicaragua as part of the panel AFRO-LATINO POLITICS: REASSESSING THE MULTICULTURAL TURN TWO DECADES AFTER REFORM, (Studio 1, Second Floor, Marriott)
Saturday, Nov. 20th
- KEVIN KARPIAK (Eastern Michigan University) — Use and Abuse of the Police in French Theory: Or, Uncanny Encounters With Foucault, Bourdieu and Many Others Among the Police Nationale as part of the panelFOUCAULT ET AL. FROM PARIS TO CALIFORNIA AND BACK AGAIN: THE CREOLISATION OF ‘FRENCH THEORY’organized by STEPHANIE LLOYD (McGill University), BAPTISTE MOUTAUD (INSERM), & LIVIA VELPRY (Cesames, University of Paris-Descartes), Grand Couteau, Fifth Floor, Sheraton
- THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF MASS INCARCERATION: GLOBAL ETHNOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVES ON PRISONS AND POLICING organized byANDREA MORRELL (City University of New York-Graduate Center), & STEPHANIE CAMPOS,Oak Alley, Fourth Floor, Sheraton
- KAREN WILLIAMS (City University of New York-Graduate Center) — From Social Control to “Caring”?: Imagining a ‘Kinder Gentler’ Prison System Under Neoliberalism
- STEPHANIE CAMPOS — Las Burriers: Incarceration & Gendered Work in Illicit Economies
- HOLLIS MOORE (University of Toronto) — The Permeable Prison and the Production of (Un)relatedness: Household Responses to Imprisonment in Northeast Brazil
- ANDREA MORRELL (City University of New York-Graduate Center) — “A Label Tightly Sewn on the Community”: Race, Justice, and the Making of a Prison Town
- LILIAN NYAMPONG — Micro Interactional Processes State/Human Rights Interventions: Ethnography of Everyday Experiences in Correctional Institutions
- DISCUSSANT: PEM BUCK (Elizabethtown Community and Technical College)
Sunday, Nov. 21st
- CIRCULATING TECHNIQUES OF GOVERNANCE: CRIME, INSECURITY, AND DELINQUENCY IN THE AMERICAS organized by CONNIE MCGUIRE (University of California-Irvine), Salon H, Third Floor, Marriott
- TIM GODDARD (University of California-Irvine) — Managing ‘Risky’ Populations: Crime Control Through Public-Private Partnerships
- CONNIE MCGUIRE (University of California-Irvine) — Transnationalizing Gangs in the Americas: From Local Problems to Regional Solutions
- VIRGINIA RAYMOND (Texas After Violence Project) — Lethal, Legal and Premeditated: U.S. State Homicide and Its Reverberations Throughout the Americas
- NINA SIULC (University of Massachusetts-Amherst) — U.S. Crimmigration Policies, Transnational Insecurities, and ? “Retraining”? Deportees
- WENDY REYES & ANGELA SANGUINETTI — Addressing the Limits of Orthodox Language
- MARIANA MORA — The Effects of Mexican State Security Policies: New Expressions of State Violence, Human Rights and the Production of Subjectivities in the State of Guerrero
- DISCUSSANT: ELANA ZILBERG (University of California-San Diego)
- SANTIAGO GUERRA (University of Texas-Austin) — Los Mafiosos Y La Chota: Drug Trafficking and Policing in the South Texas-Mexico Borderlands
as part of the panel CIRCULATING MILITARISM, CIRCULATING SUBJECTS,Salon 829, Eighth Floor, Sheraton
- TOM HALL (Cardiff University) & ROBIN SMITH — Local Motion, Local Knowledge: Research ‘On the Move’ With Urban Patrols as part of the panel OBSERVERS ON THE MOVE: REVISITING TRADITIONS AND EXPLORING INNOVATIONS IN PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION, Bayside B, Fourth Floor, Sheraton
To quote Timbaland, “It’s been a long time/ Shouldn’t have left you / without a dope beat to step to”
That’s right, it’s time for one more pre-AAA Annual Meetings edition of Anthropoliteia In The News.
Cultural Anthropology & Security
Thanks in part to one of our co-Anthropoliteia-ers, Michelle Stewert (along with Vivian Choi), we not along can enjoy a special “virtual issue” of the journal Cultural Anthropology on the theme of “security” but we can look forward to a discussion with several of the authors at this years Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association. The event will be called “Thematizing Security” and will be held Friday December 4th at 12:15pm. Discussion participants will include Didier Fassin, Ilana Feldman, Andrew Lakoff, and Joseph Masco
Policing the Rio Olympics
In the wake of being awarded the 2016 Summer Olympics, a violent outburst between police and drug gangs which left two dozen dead has garnered increased international scrutiny for Rio police forces, NPR reports. Chief among the Rio police’s strategies are community-policing style attempts to integrate the police force into the poorest and most troubled areas.
Whether these strategies will actually reduce violence is unclear. As one woman lamented, “The violence you are seeing on TV which happened last weekend you have almost every day. If not in this favela, you have it in another favela.”
“Nation’s Top Cop”
Former Boston, New York City–and now Los Angeles–police chief Bill Bratton stepped down from his position as the nation’s “top cop” in order to work for a private security consulting agency. Bratton has been closely associated with both the “zero tolerance” and “broken windows” philosophies of urban policing. On his last day he addressed the LAPD via radio dispatch, repeating his motto, “cops count, police matter” to the listening troops.
(Not) Famous Last Words
The Clock Is Ticking
Anthropoliteia-er Meg Stalcup writes, over at On the Assembly of Things, about the release, by the US Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, of “The Clock Is Ticking,” a progress report on what has happened with the recommendations made in the 2008 World at Risk publication.