In the Journals

In the Journals – Policing and Discrimination

George Floyd protest signs at the Ottawa Courthouse by Janderson L. via wikimedia

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 to develop article collections around different questions and themes. This post brings together article from throughout 2019 and 2020 to identify experiences and impacts of police discrimination, as well as to understand police socialization and training which instills discriminatory and racialized biases in practice.

In “The Jungle Academy: Molding White Supremacy in American Police Recruits,” included in American Anthropologist’s March 2020 issue, Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús uses ethnography in a police academy to argue that through militaristic training, officers mold recruits by inciting fear and teaching racist jungle metaphors of the streets and citizens they are patrolling, even in cultural diversity training. The training sculpts impressionable recruits to be uniform in action and mentality, forcing them to naturalize the jungle logic depiction of ghettos as urban jungles, and their inhabitants as animals, as well as the biases that logic entails. Beliso-De Jesús argues that these logics dehumanize and other Black, Indigenous, and people of colour while reinforcing narratives of white supremacy, and that their use is crucial in the creation of a “jungle academy” which reshapes young citizens into police officers that embody and maintain the white governance and supremacy of the state through racialized state violence. Beliso-De Jesús identifies the training program as idolizing and cultivating in every way possible the large and athletic white man who is docile yet commands respect, militant, and has an alpha male mentality, and operates on the basis of fear, control and submission when policing. This image and the article produce a clear understanding of the way in which the training of police officers creates racial discrimination and biases that uphold white superiority and non-white inferiority, and why donning a police uniform both allows and causes officers to act on that training.

Criminology and Criminal Justice included Mie Birk Haller et al.’s article, “Minor harassments: Ethnic minority youth in the Nordic countries and their perceptions of the police” in their February 2020 issue, which utilizes semi-structured interviews with ethnic minority youth in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark, to understand their experiences with police. Haller et al. identify subtle provocations and intimidations by police on ethnic minority youth, arguing that these constant interactions negatively impact their experiences of procedural justice, as well as their compliance with law enforcement. Interviewees indicated that police attitudes were often negative when dealing with them, and police language was often discriminatory and patronizing, making them feel inferior, insecure and scared, and decreasing their trust in police. The authors argue that this racialization of ethnic minorities not only upholds existing discrimination and instills feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, discomfort, humiliation and lack of belonging amongst youth, but has also led to a lack of desire and willingness to comply with law enforcement, a distrust in police desire and ability to protect and keep them safe, and has encouraged them to engage in criminal activities and self-protective behaviour.

In April 2020, Transforming Anthropology published an article entitled, “Contentious Bodies: The Place, Race, and Gender of Victimhood in Colombia” by Dani R. Merriman. In this article, Merriman explores ethnographic accounts of police discrimination of Afro-Colombian rural farmers in María la Baja over sixty years of war and interspersed peacetime, but also how individuals use what she deems “contentious bodies” to resist state attempts at labelling them violent guerilla combatants. With violence of guerilla groups in the early 1960s claiming to be the voice of the landless peasant, Merriman identifies black farmers in María la Baja as being used as reasoning for insurgent movements claiming to protect them, yet also experiencing unprovoked, violent and torture-based killing by those same groups seeking to dehumanize and other them. Not only have black farmers experienced decades of violence because of guerillas claiming to act on their behalf, they have also been targets of racialization, police discrimination and state labelling of them as violent and guerillas. With no viable recourse or proof that they were not guerillas, black famers staved off police discrimination and racialization by using their contentious bodies, calloused and broken from farm work and not insurgent activity, to prove their innocence and victimization, not perpetration.

May 2020’s issue of BMC International Health and Human Rights included the article, “‘An ethnographic exploration of factors that drive policing of street-based female sex workers in a U.S. setting – identifying opportunities for intervention” by Katherine H. A. Footer et al. Using ethnography mixed with police observation and interviews involving 64 officers, Footer et al. identify factors at the individual, community, structural and organizational levels as key to shaping the harmful behaviour and practices of police officers towards cisgender female sex workers. They argue that police behaviour reinforces stigmatization and spatial limitations of sex workers while honouring community demands to police sex work, particularly in gentrifying neighbourhoods. Proximity to violent crime led to arrests of female sex workers as police searched for information, and community opposition to sex work caused the forced displacement of female sex workers to more marginalized areas with less complaints, policing and patrolling, even when it risked the health and safety of the sex workers. Officers used dehumanizing language to depict female sex workers, and painted an image of them as unworthy of police protection despite their acknowledged vulnerability to crime and assault. Footer et al. call for the decriminalization of sex work, policy reforms regarding police practices, as well as a shift in community and police cultural landscapes to improve the safety and health of female sex workers.

Northwestern University Law Review published I. India Thusi’s “On Beauty and Policing” in March 2020, identifying the impact of police officers’ perceptions of beauty on their policing of different classes of sex workers in Johannesburg, South Africa. Through ethnographic fieldwork, Thusi identifies that police officers’ perceptions and policing of sex workers produces and reinforces a hierarchy of desirable and valuable bodies and preserves racial and gender subordination. Thusi asks critical questions regarding who the police are protecting and serving, as their intended function identifies, when they are not only neglecting but also harming the lives of already vulnerable and marginalized black female sex workers in their choices to surveil and protect white sex workers perceived as beautiful. Not only does the study indicate that blacker bodies are under-policed for protection reasons, it also identifies the police as more aggressive in those interactions than with whiter bodies. Their actions reinforce the white supremacy and black inferiority ideologies on which South Africa was previously based, as well as who is worthy and important to society based on perceived beauty by police officers. Police are not protecting and serving vulnerable communities and populations, Thusi argues, they are protecting and preserving society’s biases by perpetuating them through their actions.

In May 2019, Jaime Amparo Alves’s article on discriminatory policing practices and resistance strategies in Colombia, “Refusing to Be Governed: Urban Policing, Gang Violence, and the Politics of Evilness in an Afro-Colombian Shantytown,” was featured in the Political and Legal Anthropology Review. Alves argues that policing in El Guayacán, Colombia is Foucauldian in its governing nature, as it enforces boundaries of space based on race through the targeting of black bodies and places, which both allows a spatial solution for national crime and security anxieties, and justifies a lack of governance, state divestment, social abandonment, and police aggression within those spaces. Based on fieldwork in El Guayacán from 2013 to 2018, Alves identifies the discourse utilized by police officers to depict black bodies as unruly and insecure, and black livelihoods as uncivilized and violence-ridden, causing what he terms ‘social death’, creating spatial limitations, and justifying a lack of state involvement. Despite this combination functioning to give “spatial form to racist imaginaries of crime and order,” Alves indicates a simultaneous regaining of control and territorial autonomy of El Guayacán by residents (and largely gangs) as a result of that very lack of state governance in the area, as he seeks to understand their engagement with the state and a possibility for reinventing black life outside of it.

Rune Steenberg and Alessandro Rippa’s article, “Development for all? State schemes, security, and marginalization in Kashgar, Xinjiang,” published in Critical Asian Studies in February 2019 uses ethnography to identify reactions and strategies of Uyghurs to increased and discriminatory policing and securitization by the PRC. Steenberg and Rippa’s article is based on research spanning 2009 to 2017, and focuses on the modernist, state-driven and economic growth-focused development between 2010 and 2014, which created wealth and income disparities and incited Uyghur-led violence often labelled acts of terror, and the subsequent development of increased policing and surveillance of Uyghurs, and securitization of Kashgar. The repressive security measures taken by the state and implemented by police led to detainment in “re-education” centers, with the state presence in Uyghur lives ever-increasing and entirely controlling, cutting off outside contact by late 2017. Steenberg and Rippa identify the use of state presence and surveillance through police officers to repress and marginalize Uyghurs in Kashgar, and they argue that the roots of this discrimination are based in China’s economic development and policy, which created wealth and social disparities and incited the violence.

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 line.
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In the Journals

In the Journals – Conflict and Captivity

POW release to UN authorities was the first step in repatriation. Here, communists turn over UN troops at the POW receiving center at Panmunjon, on the border of North and South Korea by the U.S. Air Force via the National Museum of the United States Air Force
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 prisoners of war.
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In the Journals

In the Journals – Confinement and Mental Health

Cour des agitées by Amand Gautier via wikimedia
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. This post brings together articles published throughout 2019 and one reaching back to 2014 looking at mental health in pathways leading to incarceration, in correctional facilities themselves, and in reentry following release from prison. Future posts will cover topics such as: defunding the police; abolishing the police; socialization in policing; and factors in producing discrimination by officers against people of colour.
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In the Journals

In the Journals – Prisons and Pandemics

Prisoners’ Round by Vincent Van Gogh via wikimedia
Welcome back to In the Journals! My name is Ally, I am a graduate student beginning a Master’s in Anthropology at the University of Ottawa in fall 2020, and I have the utmost pleasure of taking over the In the Journals blog posts. 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.  As it has been over a year now since the last post, we will be playing a bit of catch-up and also reaching back further to develop article collections around different questions and themes. We begin with how prison systems handle the spread of infectious diseases.  Future posts will cover topics such as: defunding the police; abolishing the police; socialization in policing; factors in producing discrimination by officers against people of colour. 
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Black Lives Matter Syllabus Project

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus Project, Week 13: Noah Tamarkin on thinking with South African Activists and Artists

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, Noah Tamarkin discusses thinking with South African activists and artists.

Ayanda Mabulu at DF Contemporary

Ayanda Mabulu at DF Contemporary

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Commentary & Forums, Security in Brazil: World Cup 2014 and Beyond

Unravelling Goliath

The editors of Anthropoliteia welcome Christopher Gaffney with a commentary on the current crisis at FIFA and its implications

“Unfair Players” Photo by Christopher Gaffney CC BY-NC-PSA 4.0

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.

Favela da Paz

Favela da Paz “This is the Cup that Globo won’t show” Photo by Christopher Gaffney CC BY-NC-PSA 4.0

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.

“Sir Blatter, Homeland of the Barefoot Gives You a Kick in the Ass” Photo by Christopher Gaffney CC BY-NC-PSA 4.0

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.

2014 World Cup Protests Photo by Christopher Gaffney CC BY-NC-PSA 4.0

2014 World Cup Protests Photo by Christopher Gaffney CC BY-NC-PSA 4.0

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.

Above

Above “Ronaldo Fenômeno does not represent me!” Below “Football Yes. FIFA No” Photo by Christopher Gaffney CC BY-NC-PSA 4.0

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.
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In the Journals

In The Journals – February 2015

Weteye MK116 Mod O Nonpersistent GB Chemical Bomb - March 1964

Welcome back to In the Journals, a now monthly sweep of recent academic publications examining security, crime, policing and the law. As the slow winter months come to a close, we hope you can find some time before Spring to get some reading in. Here are some of the articles of interest to us, that we thought we should share with you.

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In the Journals, What's going on in Ukraine?

In the Journals – August 2014

Welcome back to In the Journals, now a bi-monthly look at the recent academic publications that have come within anthropoliteia’s orbit. Summer is drawing to a close and many of us head are undoubtedly heading back to the slog of the academic year, but should you find yourself with a free moment here are some recent articles and reviews dealing critically with issues of law and order, policing, crime and the state.

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Dossiers

The Perlocution Will Not Be Televised: The Oscar Pistorius trial and the fate of language

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome a special guest post from Thomas Cousins

On Monday 3 March, 2014, the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius began with a flurry of international media coverage. The famous “Blade Runner”, now made infamous for shooting and killing his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day 2013, is defending his actions as a case of mistaken identity. The fact of the shooting is not in doubt, and as Margie Orford’s oped (now gone viral) brilliantly shows, the three bodies at stake and their arrangement in relation to one another is clear. Those three bodies are: the cyborg body of the Olympic athlete now fallen from grace; the “exquisite corpse” of the former model; and the imagined body of the racialized stranger intent on robbery, rape, and murder.

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DragNet

“Today the world, once again, is watching South Africa’s response to 193x285q70kerry-chancepolice violence. Emerging from a violent Apartheid past, the newly branded South African Police Services was meant to be a shining example of how best to protect law and order, while ensuring a free democratic society for all. However, recent events in Ficksburg, Marikana and Cato Crest shake the foundation of this vision.”

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Kerry Chance on South African Policing

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