A proverb common in Romania, generally referring to gypsies, claims that 'your heart is not warm unless you steel'. During the author's fieldwork in a village in Transylvania it was, obvious, however, that the moral judgement on theft and stealing varies greatly according to context. The article discusses the social construction of theft in different empirical contexts and historical periods from wartime looting in India to theft of state property in Romania and how the definition and judgement in each case are embedded in social relations and social structures. The article's main objective is to unmask social relations of power and domination that are often hidden behind definitions and judgements concerning the acquisition of the property of others. Thus theft cannot be understood as either legal or moral; instead, it ties together the moral and the legal, the collective and the individual, objects and persons in different ways in different contexts.
Constructions of Theft and Stealing
Ada I. Engebrigtsen
Theft, Disgust and Ritual Practice in Central Lombok, Indonesia
Kari G. Telle
In this essay I examine a form of stealing that people in rural Sasak communities on the island of Lombok find deeply problematic because of its intimate nature: theft of which they suspect that someone in their own hamlet or village is culpable. In the large village in central Lombok where I have carried out fieldwork, theft that is attributed to a so-called ‘neighbourhood thief’ is said to produce a foul smell (bais) that begins to ooze out from where the theft occurred, enveloping the neighbourhood in a putrid stench.1 This smell is particularly intense when the thief is not caught in the act of stealing, but manages to slip away. In connection with a theft of two heirloom daggers and several pieces of old cloth that occurred one Saturday night in June 2001 and of which a close neighbour soon emerged as a suspect, Bapen Seni, a man who lives nearby, commented in disgust: ‘Now this neighbourhood really stinks [bais gubuk]! The stench is smelled even far away, it cannot be sealed off.’
Property rights, crime, and the rules of law
This essay in comparative history considers how governing elites and rural publics have interpreted rules of law and criminal behavior in times of radical tenure transformation. During the twentieth century, Russians experienced three state-sponsored attempts at property rights revolution: firstly, the pre-1917 Stolypin Reforms to privatize the ubiquitous peasant communes, secondly, Stalin’s 1930s campaign to forcibly collectivized peasant communes, and thirdly, the 1990s ‘shock therapy’ reforms to replace Soviet collectivism with wholesale privatization. In each case, adherents of the pre-existing property systems were excluded from the decision-making process that established the new one. Russia’s historical experience is viewed in light of the contested emergence of private property regimes during England’s enclosure movement, and during the nineteenth-century Euro- pean settler appropriation of American Indian land as private property—with African-born plantation workers also later claimed as private property. In some cases, resistance was viewed as criminal; in others, it was punishable as treason.
Comment on the Special Section on Cultural Appropriation
“Appropriation“ is a complex term used in many different realms, and an almost ubiquitous phenomenon. Conceptually linked to questions of mobility, appropriation has both a social and physical dimension. This essay delineates the term's employment in key political and academic discourses, and interrogates its inherent logic with regard to possession, the attribution of purpose and value, and the social reciprocity of the parties involved in the act. Starting off with questions of just distribution in modern nation-states, the argument then traces appropriation in contemporary debates on copyright in a digital age, and provides a sketch of the larger political imaginary informing acts of appropriation.
Trespass and Honor in Late Medieval English Towns
relationships through acts of violence, theft, or verbal abuse. These complaints provide valuable insights into the misbehavior of individuals in urban communities, as well as highlighting public perceptions of harm to credit, honor, or reputation that were
On 13 February 2011, more than a million women (and many men)
took to the streets of Italy’s major cities to “make themselves seen and
heard,” in response to an appeal by an informal network of associations
as well as individual women called Se Non Ora Quando? (If Not
Now, When?). The demonstrations came about as a result of the latest
sex scandal (and abuse of authority) involving Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi, which had erupted a few months previously. This was
due to the revelation that Berlusconi had telephoned the Milan police
headquarters in the middle of the night, asking them to hand over to a
“trusted person”— Nicole Minetti, a Popolo della Libertà (PdL, People
of Liberty) regional councilor—a young foreign girl not yet 18 years
old, known as Ruby, who had been accused of theft by a friend
Egyptian Antiquities and Contested Histories in the Cairo Museum
During the Egyptian revolution in January 2011, the antiquities museum in Tahrir Square became the focus of press attention amid claims of looting and theft, leading Western organizations and media outlets to call for the protection of Egypt’s ‘global cultural heritage’. What passed without remark, however, was the colonial history of the Cairo museum and its collections, which has shaped their postcolonial trajectory. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Cairo museum was a pivotal site for demonstrating control of Egypt on the world stage through its antiquities. More than a century later, these colonial visions of ancient Egypt, and its place in museums, continue to exert their legacy, not only in the challenges faced by the Egyptian Antiquities Museum at a crucial stage of redevelopment, but also in terms of museological practice in the West.
'Dirty Realism' in Contemporary American and Irish Fiction
Although not strictly speaking a ‘dirty realist’ novel, American Pastoral is clearly indebted to the genre. Concerned with a generation which, despite its money, is only one removed from the city’s Old Prince Street ghetto – Seymour Levov’s father left school at fourteen to work in a tannery to support a family of nine – the 1960s proves ‘dirtier’ than the past. Prosperous Newark becomes ‘the car-theft capital of the world’ and the Levov’s neighbourhood, reminiscent of ‘dirty realist’ writing, becomes a seedy district where, apart from a liquor store, a pizza stand and a church, everything is ruined and boarded up. Initially, as in ‘dirty realist’ writing, fantasies about family and community hide ‘the way things actually work’.1 But a significant element of American Pastoral is its implicit argument in favour of ‘dirty realism’. If we accept the novel’s gist, the need for Seymour to be released from myth into the complexity and messiness of history, then ‘dirty realism’, as beyond pastoral and outside a linear, progressive model of history, is relocated as a mode of writing which buys into postmodern critiques of monolithic narratives and fixed subject-positions.
Un análisis de equilibrio general
Sandra Edith Medellín Mendoza and Joana Cecilia Chapa Cantú
*Full article is in Spanish
English abstract: There exists few studies on Mexico related to research of the factors involved in the decision-making process of individuals when choosing whether to be a law-abiding citizen or a criminal. From the perspective of members of criminal markets—i.e., victims, felons, and the government—this work explains under a general equilibrium model how the delinquency rate for felonies, such as theft, in the various Mexican states function as structural parameters for wages, taxes, police reliability, and legal penalties. The results suggest that, in an environment of low accusation and punishment, the only variable in this model which has a real effect in reducing crime are monetary penalties, due to the fact that the felon must face this kind of penalty once accused, captured, and jailed.
Spanish abstract: Existen pocos estudios para el caso mexicano donde se investiga cuáles son los factores que intervienen en la toma de decisiones de los individuos al elegir entre ser criminal o no. Desde la perspectiva de los integrantes del mercado del crimen, esto es, víctimas, delincuentes y gobierno, este trabajo explica bajo un modelo de equilibrio general, cómo responde la tasa de delincuencia para delitos como el robo de las entidades federativas mexicanas ante cambios en los parámetros estructurales como salarios, impuestos, productividad de la policía y las penas consideradas en el marco legal. Los resultados encontrados sugieren que en un contexto de bajas tasas de denuncia y castigo, la única variable de política que en el marco de este modelo tiene efecto para reducir el crimen son las penas monetarias, ya que estas las enfrenta el criminal una vez que es denunciado, capturado y encarcelado.
French abstract: Rares sont les études au Mexique qui s'interrogent sur les facteurs liés au processus de prise de décision chez les individus concernant leur choix de devenir ou non des criminels. Fondé sur les opinions des agents du crime organisé, dont les victimes, les criminels et le gouvernement, cet article analyse sur la base d'un modèle d'équilibre général, la manière dont le taux de délinquance, à l'instar des détournements des fonds publics dans des régions mexicaines, réagit aux changement des paramètres structurels tels que les salaires, les impôts, l'efficience de la police et la fiabilité des sanctions dans le cadre juridique. Les résultats suggèrent que dans un contexte pareil marqué par un faible taux de plaintes et de sanctions, la seule variable de politiques susceptibles de réduire efficacement la criminalité, sont les sanctions pécuniaires, auxquelles les criminels seraient systématiquement confrontés en cas de dénonciation, d'arrestation ou d'emprisonnement.
A Muslim Perspective
separate religion from state affairs is not exclusively a modern western construct. Khaled Abou El Fadl writes in his book The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists : Shortly after the Prophet became the ruler of Medina, he carefully worked with