DragNet: January 1-12, 2015


Police Chief Charles Ramsey and George Mason’s Laurie Robinson were selected by President Obama to serve on the White House’s newly created Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The President hopes the task force will come up with solutions for improving police-citizen interactions by mid-February.

Body cameras aren’t a quick fix for police violence, writes Jennifer Dawn Carlson in her post for LA Times. The failure of juries to indict Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo in the wrongful death cases of two unarmed citizens has left many pointing to body camera technology as an obvious solution for ending police-citizen violence. Carlson closes her piece with a powerful question: if citizens equipped with cameras aren’t enough, will officers equipped with cameras prove to be?

Speaking of the police-citizen rift, we shared NPR’s Renee Montagne’s interview with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Laurie Robinson of George Mason University. Ramsey and Robinson were selected by President Obama to serve on the White House’s newly created Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Obama hopes the task force will come up with solutions for improving police-citizen interactions by mid-February.

Others have suggested a large portion of the police-citizen problem is arguably caused by a lack of knowledge about who polices the police (and how thoroughly). Alex Vitale’s post for The Nation highlights a selection of relevant literature about the subject to get the conversation going.

What on earth would a police department with an enforcement population under 29,000 people need “two bomb disposal robots, 10 tactical trucks and 35 assault rifles” for? We shared Shawn Musgrave, Tom Meagher and Gabriel Dance’s post from the Marshall Project, entitled “The Pentagon Finally Details its Weapons-for-Cops Giveaway” earlier this month. They detail which military grade equipment many local departments have received from military surpluses.

What’s on Anthropoliteia’s Blog Menu for 2015, you ask? Find out here– where you’ll also find a listing of our most popular posts of 2014. Top blogs included Jennie Simpson’s “Do Police Departments Need Anthropologists?” and “Little Green Men: Russia, Ukraine and post-Soviet Sovereignty” by Alexi Yurchak.

Lastly but importantly, Anthropoliteia will be launching a new forum in light of the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks. In the meantime, you can peruse our list of useful commentaries below:

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!


Anthropoliteia in 2015

Comical Repast (Banquet of the Starved) James Ensor  (Belgian, Ostend 1860–1949 Ostend) Date: ca. 1917–18 Medium: Oil on canvas Dimensions: 45 1/2 x 57 1/4 in. (115.6 x 145.4 cm) Classification: Paintings Credit Line: Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967), 1967 Accession Number: 67.187.68

Comical Repast (Banquet of the Starved) James Ensor ca. 1917–18


As we welcome a new year and get ready for the new semester, we at Anthropoliteia would just like to take a moment to reflect on the many exciting changes that occurred here over the course of 2014.  We redesigned the site with a snazzy new look.  We welcomed several new section editors as well as guest editors and contributors.  We launched new features (Book Reviews, DragNet, In the Journals, Interrogations, Practicum and Tip of the Cap), several on-going forums (What’s Going on in Ukraine?, Security in Brazil:World Cup 2014 and Beyond, and #Ferguson & Elsewhere), organized several panels and events at #AAA2014, and even created a new format for Dispatches and Dossiers “From the Field”.

Once we catch our breath, we hope to continue the fun in 2015.  Until then, here’s a look back at our most popular posts of 2014:

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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.

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.

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

What's going on in Ukraine?

Ukraine Roundtable, pt. 2: Simulacrum Crimea

Yesterday, as part of our ongoing collaboration on Ukraine coverage, Allegra published a timeline summarizing the main ‘events’ of the Ukrainian crisis. Today, Judith Beyer, who already published an article on Ukraine with Allegra, continues our conversation and answers the question that was asked in the first part of our joint virtual roundtable: “What has struck you the most, or been most noteworthy, about the developments in Ukraine—from EuroMaidan to Crimea—so far?”

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What's going on in Ukraine?

“What’s Going on in Ukraine?” Timeline on Allegra

As part of our ongoing collaboration on Ukraine coverage, and in an effort to give a little context to the discussion, the Allegra blog has put together an AMAZING timeline of events (with a little help from our own contributors Michael Bobick, Jennifer Carroll, Monica Eppinger and Taras Ferirko).  Here’s just a taste:

In its mission to promote anthropology’s societal relevance, Allegra has launched a discussion with the insights of specialists of the region into the current Ukrainian situation. Last week in this mission we joined forces with a virtual roundtable with Anthropoliteia – Part 1. We’ll soon follow with Part 2, but first a short recap of the main events is in order – just WHAT is going in with this crises, and WHEN has everything started concretely?!

With this goal in mind we have summarised the events into a timeline, starting with November 21, 2013 – summarising all the joint wisdom by the Allegra & Anthropoliteia ‘Ukraine teams’  and constructed with wonderful diligence by Allegra’s very own Ninnu Koskenalho!

The backstory for the crisis in Ukraine begins with Russia’s historical affinity with the Crimean peninsula, and with the power politics of Ukrainian leaders Viktor Yanukovych and Yulia Tymoshenko. The current crisis is seen to have begun late last year, when political decisions sparked protests that quickly grew in size. As with the Arab Spring, the iconic location of the protests is the Independence Square, Maidan Nezalezhnost, in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev

via WHAT IS GOING ON?! Ukraine Crisis Timeline | Allegra.

What's going on in Ukraine?

Ukraine Roundtable

Ukraine memorial

Memorials for the dead along Institutka St. © Jennifer Carroll

Both Allegra and Anthropoliteia have been busy covering the political developments in Ukraine and Crimea, so we decided to “collaborate” on our coverage by bringing together the various contributors to pause and reflect on the question: “What has struck you the most, or been most noteworthy, about the developments in Ukraine—from EuroMaidan to Crimea—so far?” Continue reading

What's going on in Ukraine?

Spirit of the Gift, wartime edition

The editors of Anthropoliteia would again like to welcome the fourth in a series of special guest posts from Monica Eppinger as part of our developing Forum What’s Going on in Ukraine?

March 4: another day of occupation, another day of no bloodshed. Wonders never cease.

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