What's going on in Ukraine?

Birth, Death, and Fictive Citizenship: Citizenship and Political Agency in War-Torn Ukraine

The Editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome Greta Uehling for the latest in our continuing Forum, What’s Going on in Ukraine?

Parent and child shoes

As the war in Eastern Ukraine grinds on, and diplomats have forgotten about occupied Crimea, there are new realities shaping the way Ukrainians are born, live, and die in this war-torn country.

Most readers will be aware that Russian troops entered Crimea in Spring, 2014 and, without a single shot, took control of key military installations, held a bogus referendum, and set up a new government. The residents of that occupied territory are now caught, so to speak, between Ukraine and Russia. This post is based on ethnographic fieldwork with individuals coming out of the occupied territories into free Ukraine in May and June 2015..

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#Ferguson & Elsewhere, What's going on in Ukraine?

Monica Eppinger, one of the contributors to our Forum “What’s Going on in Ukraine?“, also happens to be Assistant Professor at the Saint Louis University School of Law, which offers her a unique insight on one of our other recent Forums “#Ferguson and Elsewhere“.  Over at her other blog, the Comparative Law Prof Blog, she has some interesting reflections on the two.  Here’s just a snippet:

Serhiy Nigoyan memorial, Ukraine (c) Monica Eppinger 2014

Two commonalities invite comparison between late summer in Ferguson and deep winter in Kyiv.  First is the form of public action, street protest.  It speaks of an electorate that, despite a polity’s record of holding fair elections, resorts to alternatives to usual democratic processes.  The second, and most striking, commonality is the kind of spark that ignited protest, the relationship between citizen death at the hands of police and public assessments of state legitimacy.

via Comparative Law Prof Blog.

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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DragNet: May 1 – 15, 2014

Use of force by Border Patrol OfficersA study conducted through a collaboration of biostaticians and lawyers attracted attention this month, with the duo evaluating the overall success rate of the criminal justice system. Using death penalty cases as a “control group” of sorts, they argue against the claim that “99.973%” of US Court cases are processed accurately. They also found that ~36% of death row inmates are reassigned to life in prison if question about their guilt remains, fueling discussions of whether there is, in fact, an “acceptable” error rate.

The ACLU called for a reconsideration of Border Patrol Officer discretionary power with respect to the use of deadly force. Does throwing a rock at an officer warrant a lethal response? John Burnett of NPR also tackled the question (somewhat unsuccessfully), while NBC Nightly News covered a DOJ report that also exposes a pattern of excessive force by officers in New Mexico.

Use of force gave way to topics in police technology, with attention being paid to the use of “shooting simulators” by some courts in Texas. The technology allows jurors to experience a simulation of a crime before it is heard in court. Praised by some for its ability to “put the juror in the shoes of the defendant or officer”, some insist it is a pro-law enforcement ploy to justify officer use of deadly force. Also in technology, a crowd-sourcing tool known as LEEDIR was used by the LAPD last month during investigations of a widespread riot. Officers praised its ability to quickly process digital evidence, while others point to its potential to subject innocent bystanders in public areas to police surveillance. Anthropoliteia author Orisanmi Burton also reflected on police technology in a post about Sky Watch stations in Brooklyn. Is this form of surveillance technology yet another chapter in the Domain Awareness initiative?

…just when you thought you knew everything Anthropoliteia has to offer, we throw a new feature at you! Guest author Stephanie Savell talks about the hidden side of police and security in Brazil. Fill in the gaps of World Cup media coverage with Savell’s holistic historical analysis.

Anthropoliteia was pleased to see former contributor Michael Bobick publish a piece through the Council for European Studies Reviews & Critical Commentary’s site. In it, he targets and addresses 3 questions about the separatist forces operating in Ukraine.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 1 in 4 adult in the US suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder. Perhaps stats like these are behind the growth of Crisis Intervention Teams. Read how one police department in Fairfield, CT invested (and benefits) from enrolling 20% of its officers in mental health response training. The role of mental health and policing lend to issues in homelessness, with Anthropology News featuring a thesis overview by Maegen Miller about the slow evolution of homelessness into a prosecutable crime.

Lastly, don’t miss 2014 Society of Cultural Anthropology conference materials that were presented on May 9th and 10th. Anthropoliteia’s own Kevin Karpiak and Michelle Stewart attended to present papers on the work of police. View the SCA 2014 agenda here.

What's going on in Ukraine?

Former Anthropoliteia contributor, and member of our Ukraine Roundtable, Michael Bobick has a new piece published over at the Council for European StudiesReviews & Critical Commentary site.  Here’s a taste:

On April 6th, pro-Russian protestors stormed and occupied the Donetsk Oblast Regional Administrative building, along with the local SBU (Ukrainians security services) headquarters. Overnight, barricades of tires, barbed wire, and professionally produced banners were hoisted over this building; the Ukrainian flag was replaced with a Russian one. On April 7th, the People’s Republic of Donetsk declared its independence and immediately appealed to President Putin to send Russian ‘peacekeepers’. A referendum on whether Donetsk ‘should join the Russian Federation’ was to occur sometime before May 11th, 2014. Similar events have occurred in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine, in Lugansk, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odessa, regions referred to both in Western and Russian media as Russian or Russian-speaking. Though this conflation of language, identity, and ethnicity is far removed from the reality of everyday life in Ukraine, it remains an essential concept for understanding how separatism occurs in the former Soviet Union. Each can become a pretext for discrimination, marginalization, and threat at the hands of the de jure state that can only be remedied by Russian intervention.

In this article, I seek to answer three questions: Who are the separatist forces currently operating in Ukraine, and what is their goal? Secondly, what can Transnistria, a de facto state in Moldova that has existed for more than two decades, offer to an understanding of events in Ukraine? Finally, I am interested in how the new political technologies and practices deployed by Russia in Ukraine are changing the nature of war and humanitarian intervention in the twenty-first century.

via Active Measures: Separatism and Self-Determination in Russia’s Near Abroad | Reviews & Critical Commentary.


DragNet, April 2014


What was on April’s Blog Menu, you ask? A flurry of posts covering everything from issues in ethnicity, crime stat validity, police social media involvement and ongoing Ukraine and surveillance coverage, of course! Continue reading

What's going on in Ukraine?

Police violence and ideas of the state in Ukrainian ‘Euromaidan’

The editors of Anthropoliteia would like to welcome Taras Fedirko with the latest entry in our developing Forum What’s Going on in Ukraine?

Violence as other; other as the authorities

In their responses to police violence during the ‘Euromaidan’in Ukraine, protesters and engaged commentators often located the source of brutality in some sort of unofficial, ‘other’realm within the state. Narratives of police brutality became narratives of the state as the riot police came to be imagined as commanded directly by the president Yanuokovych; authorities were thought to conspire against the Maidan; and snipers shooting at protesters on February 18-20 were said to be ‘Russian-trained.’

My interest here is in how protesters and sympathetic media represented the standoff between Maidan and ‘Berkut’ riot police not so much in terms of the enforcement of public order or contestations over what such order is/should be, but in terms of a confrontation between protesters and the authorities (rather than the police). The term for the ‘authorities’in Ukrainian is vlada, which simultaneously means abstract ‘power’and ‘people in/holding power’. Although it has an official usage (e.g. orhany vlady—state institutions, literally ‘organs of power’), it is crucial that in Ukrainian there is no word for ‘authority’and, I would add, no pragmatic difference between power and authority. The ‘realist’term vlada therefore maps the lack of emic differentiation between the official and unofficial power. I suggest that the displacement of the source of police agency to vlada was premised on understandings of vlada as the source of both official/formal and informal power in the society. Continue reading