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Riding Along with Police

Opportunity for Learning and Beyond

Anita M. Waters, Antonius C.G.M. Robben, Chris Giacomantonio and Steve Herbert

In the summer of 2008 I sent out a call to thirty former students from three semesters between 2000 and 2005, to reflect on what they learned from the “ride-alongs” with police, whether the project has changed their views on social order and the state, on the practice of law enforcement, and on the process of gathering knowledge about social life in general. Ten responded, and their ideas show that the experience of police ethnography had a considerable impact.

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Louis-Antoine Saint-Just, Christopher Fotheringham and Jérémie Barthas

We are publishing here the first modern English translation of the report on police and other matters presented by Louis-Antoine Saint-Just to the National Convention on 15 April 1794. This was his last report: his last appraisal of the history of the French Revolution since 1789, his last analysis of the social and economic consequences of the ongoing fight between revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces and his last sketch on what still needed to be done to secure the foundations of the young Republic. A few months later, the 10th Thermidor year II of the French Republic (28 July 1794 CE), Saint-Just was guillotined in Paris, Place de la Révolution.

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Policing production

Corporate governmentality and the Cultivation System

Albert Schrauwers

This article reexamines the Cultivation System in early nineteenth-century Java as part of an assemblage of Crown strategies, programs, and technologies to manage the economy—and more particularly, “police” the paupers—of the “greater Netherlands.” This article looks at the integrated global commodity chains within which the System was embedded, and the common governmental strategies adopted by the Dutch Crown to manage these flows in both metropole and colony. It focuses on the role of an early corporation, the Netherlands Trading Company, that also served as the administrator of poverty-relief efforts in the Eastern Netherlands where cotton cloth was produced. The article argues that corporate governmentality arose as a purposive strategy of avoiding liberal parliamentary scrutiny and bolstering the “enlightened absolutism” of the Crown. By withdrawing responsibility for the policing of paupers from the state, and vesting it in corporations, the Crown commercialized the delivery of pauper relief and reduced state expenditure, while still generating large profits.

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Martin Thomas

Focusing on the gendarmerie forces of the three French Maghreb territories, this article explores the relationships between paramilitary policing, the collection of political intelligence, and the form and scale of collective violence in the French Empire between the wars, and considers what, if anything, was specifically colonial about these phenomena. I also assess the changing priorities in political policing as France's North African territories became more unstable and violent during the Depression. The gendarmeries were overstretched, under-resourced, and poorly integrated into the societies they monitored. With the creation of dedicated riot control units, intelligenceled political policing of rural communities and the agricultural economy fell away. By 1939 the North African gendarmeries knew more about organized trade unions, political parties, and other oppositional groups in the Maghreb's major towns, but they knew far less about what really drove mass protest and political violence: access to food, economic prosperity, rural markets, and labor conditions.

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Intimidation, reassurance, and invisibility

Israeli security agents in the Old City of Jerusalem

Erella Grassiani and Lior Volinz

Jerusalem is a city of extremes, where tourists and pilgrims come to see the sights and pray, but where violence is also a daily affair. In the square kilometer called the Old City, which is part of East Jerusalem and thus considered by the international community as occupied territory, the tensions accumulate as (Jewish) Israeli settlers move into houses in the middle of the Muslim and Christian quarters. In order to secure them, numerous cameras have been installed by the police that show all that happens in the narrow streets of the quarter and private security personnel are stationed on many roofs to watch the area. Furthermore, undercover police officers patrol the streets and at times check IDs of Palestinians. In this article, we focus on policing strategies that Israeli private and public security agents use to control this small and controversial urban space. We argue that the constant presence and movement of police, security personnel, and their surveillance technologies in and through the heart of the Muslim quarter should be analyzed within a colonial context and as a deliberate strategy to control and discipline the local population and to legitimize the larger settler project of the Israeli state. This strategy consists of different performances and thus relationships with policed audiences. First, their (undercover) presence is visible for Palestinians with the effect or intention of intimidating them directly. At the same time they also serve to reassure the Israeli settlers living in the Old City and when in uniform foreign tourists. Both Palestinians and settlers will recognize agents and other security arrangements through experience and internalization of the Israeli security mentality, while tourists see them only when in uniform. However, simultaneously, when undercover, their presence remains largely unseen for this third “audience”; the tourists who are not to be alarmed. By showing their presence to some while remaining invisible to others, security actors and technology “perform” for different audiences, manifesting their power within urban space and legitimizing the Israeli occupation.

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Sacha Darke

Brazilian prisons are typically crowded and poorly resourced, yet at the same time may be active places. Of particular interest to the sociology of prisons is institutional reliance on inmate collaboration and self-ordering, not only to maintain prison routines, but, in the most low-staffed prisons, security and prisoner conduct as well. This article explores the roles played by inmates in running one such penal institution, a men's police lockup in Rio de Janeiro. At the time of research the lockup had over 450 prisoners, but just five officers. Both on and off the wings inmates performed janitorial, clerical, and guard-like duties, mostly under the supervision not of officers but other prisoners. The lockup appeared to be operating under a relatively stable, if de facto and provisional order, premised on common needs and shared beliefs, and maintained by a hierarchy of prisoner as well as officer authority.

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'If I Receive It, It Is a Gift; If I Demand It, Then It Is a Bribe'

On the Local Meaning of Economic Transactions in Post-Soviet Ukraine

Abel Polese

Challenging the main reports of corruption in Ukraine, this article proposes that most of the 'economic transactions' that are reported as bribe taking have a deeper meaning and can be analysed within the framework of gift exchange proposed by Marcel Mauss. This paper thus focuses on the three alleged most 'corrupted' places in Ukraine: a university, a hospital and a police control post, in order to develop a detailed analysis of the meanings behind these transactions. Furthermore, it examines the particular role that social actors take within these arrangements. Finally, I propose the recognition of a grey zone between corruptions as evident in the ethnographic examples analysed in the course of this paper.

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Terms of Silence

Weaknesses in Corporate and Law Enforcement Responses to Cyberviolence against Girls

Suzanne Dunn, Julie S. Lalonde and Jane Bailey

Girls do not need merely to be empowered with technological know-how in order to engage fully online. While girls use digital and social media for self-expression, activism, and identity experimentation, their engagement is too often interfered with by online gender policing and by being attacked for daring to challenge conventional stereotypes. Reshaping the online environment in ways that address this discrimination meaningfully requires a multifaceted approach that includes transparent, responsive, and accessible redress through both social media platforms and, where necessary, law enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, these institutions all too often fail to respond adequately when girls report acts of cyberviolence committed against them. This article illustrates this failure by drawing on lessons learned from coauthor Julie S. Lalonde’s experiences in advocating online for gender equality. It also raises the troubling concern of law enforcement deference to corporate terms of service rather than to Canadian law.

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On separating memory from historical science

A critique and three Austrian cases

Hermann Rebel

To illustrate its critique of a professional-academic practice of separating 'scientific history' from 'popular memory' perceptions, this article examines three examples from current Austrian historiography and memorial constructions. The cases under consideration, all relevant to Austrian historians' representation of the national Holocaust experience, focus firstly, on relationships between present historical perceptions of the Austrian 'foreign police', particularly of the latter's so-called Schubsystem, and their fatal popular memory enactments, both 'then' and 'now'; secondly, on historical-scientific representations of Eastern European family formations as a, possibly ingenuous, popular memory repetition of similar historical-analytical perceptions by Nazi social science; and thirdly, on the selective appearance of the forced labor and death camp Mauthausen in official histories of the Austrian Nazi experience as possible collaborations with the camp's ceremonial restructuring into a ritual object for popular memory engineering that in effect destroys the material evidence of the crime being commemorated.

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“It Is Better to Die”

Abbé Rousseau and the Meanings of Suicide

Jeffrey Merrick

As he explained in his suicide note, abbé Jean-Baptiste Rousseau could not marry and would not seduce the young woman he loved, so he shot himself on 18 May 1784. Witnesses deposed by the police claimed that he was not in his right mind and therefore not legally responsible for his actions, but the authors of contemporary reports about the case accepted his lucid account of his dilemma. Nouvellistes and journalists provided multiple versions of his note and multiple judgments of his motives, options, and actions. This analysis of the sources from 1784 and the following years shows how they reworked the story of Rousseau’s life and death against the background of larger issues. Changes in jurisprudence during the last decades of the ancien régime culminated in the decriminalization of suicide and other religious, moral, and sexual crimes in 1791. Debates about the causes and meanings of self-destruction continued, but in the press rather than the courts.