Next Up: “Electric Burns” at University of Chicago

If anyone’s in the Chicagoland area next week, I’ll be presenting a draft of my upcoming article “Electric Burns: the banlieue riots and the problem of a post-social police in France”  (see details below) so that all the smart people over at the University of Chicago’s  Anthropology of Europe Workshop can comment on it and be otherwise helpful in its development.

Email me or Owen Kohl to get a draft of the article; it will be assumed you’ve read it beforehand.

Continue reading Next Up: “Electric Burns” at University of Chicago

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New Community-Police Re-figurations in Oakland

Jonathan Simon, over at Governing Through Crime has some interesting reflections on a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

From the article it appears that the major tactics are more beat cops walking commercial streets and the creation of a new police linked (but not managed) “outreach” initiative aimed at stalling conlicts in Oakland neighborhoods before it turns lethal.

No doubt the beat cops are reassuring, especially to business people like the furniture store owner interviewed by Chip Johnson:

“We had homeless people sleeping in our doorways, people wandering up and down the block, but when he came, that all vanished,” said Ford, 68. “I would say about four out of six days a week, he will stick his head inside the door and say hi. It’s been a great relief.”

Whether a strategy of chasing homeless people away is constitutional or sustainable in the Bay Area (especially when many of our neighbors may soon be joining their ranks) we will leave for another post, let alone whether it has any effect on violent crime.

More intriguing is the outreach initiative which Johnson credits to Mayor Ron Dellums:

Toribio said outreach workers paid for through the city’s Measure Y program have established a “strong working relationship” with some street toughs. The workers regularly target areas with patterns of violence.

“We send them in when we’ve determined there may be trouble brewing, and they work to try and let calmer heads prevail,” Toribio said.

“Most of these guys (outreach workers) grew up in some of these neighborhoods. They recognize guys from the street,” he said. “Some of them have been to prison and battled their demons, and they have a lot of credibility on the street.”

Leave aside the interesting constitutional questions of an apparatus that “work with police”, but “they aren’t agents of the police and don’t share information.” The approach sounds promising to me.

Ironically it underscores some of the problems that shadow the promise of the police. Why do the police lack so much credibility in neighborhoods suffering from violence that they need a parallel apparatus to provide them information as needed to stop or solve violent crimes? When we put more police offices on the streets how might their conduct actually exacerbate violent crime?

via Governing through Crime: The Promise of Police.

It seems, once again, that contemporary re-figurations of police practice revolve around the constellation of concepts that are central to Weber’s definition of the state.  We have new types of human communities operating on different sorts of terrain under the aegis of unique claims to legitimacy.  This is the ensemble of pragmatic political experimentation that I’ve been calling a “post-social police.

Transatlantic Perspectives on the Local Pursuit of Intelligence at UIUC

Here’s the program for a conference on policing immigrant communities that I’ll be participating in at UIUC.  The text here’s via Legal Theory Blog, but you can also find it at ESQ Blog.me:

“Transatlantic Perspectives on the Local Pursuit of Intelligence”

April 2-3, 2009

University of Illinois College of Law

Conference Organizers: Jacqueline Ross, University of Illinois College of Law, and Thierry Delpeuch, Centre National de Recherche Scientifique

Jointly sponsored by the University of Illinois College of Law; the University of Illinois College of Law’s Program in Criminal Law and Procedure; The University of Illinois Police Training Institute; the University of Illinois European Union Center; the United States Embassy in France; the Ministry of the Interior of France (Délégation à la prospective et à la stratégie); the Agence Nationale de Recherche; and France’s Centre National de Recherche Scientifique

Continue reading Transatlantic Perspectives on the Local Pursuit of Intelligence at UIUC

Publications

Some of my research is available for free through various online repositories.   Here is a growing list of available articles, presentations, and working papers

Savage Minds on Michèle Lamont’s new book

i just couldn’t help making this a whole entry for itself, rather than just digg-ing it

Peer Review Revealed: Inside Higher Ed discussed Michèle Lamont’s new book How Professors Think: Inside the Curious World of Academic Judgement. In the research for the book, Lamont sat in on multiple peer review panels and interviewed people making decisions. Her findings: that reviewers reward proposals that reminds them of their latest weekend vacation, dislike proposals that doesn’t speak to their own work, form alliances with other reviewers, read moral judgements into statements of purpose, etc. But in the end, Lamont seems to conclude, it’s the worst system except for every other kind.

via Savage Minds: Notes and Queries in Anthropology — A Group Blog » Savage Minds Around the Web.

Dissonant Soundtracks: what would be on the top 10?

Part of my interest in movie scores, as a few of you will know, is that I think of ethnographic writing, or composition, in terms of movie soundtracks… an insight that only starts the conversation, in that there are so many ways to score a film.

In light of the recent hullabaloo over the use of music in the new The Watchmen movie, and of my own re-discovery of both Wicker Park soundtracks, I’ve been thinking about the ways soundtracks can be sometimes overly dissonant with the movies themselves: there can be bad movies with good soundtracks, bad soundtracks for good movies, and instances where music and movie just don’t “fit”.

Maybe we can use this “bad” examples to think about the ethnographic composition.  So I guess I’m asking: what would be on your top 10 list of “dissonant” movie soundtracks, and why?  What, if anything, can we learn from this “dissonance”?

Center for South Asia Studies: Violence and Creativity Workshop (Update)

An update on the Conference/Workshop I’ll be participating in this Saturday. You can see the full program here.  Or, see the info after the break:

Continue reading Center for South Asia Studies: Violence and Creativity Workshop (Update)

How is Anthropology Going? Redux.

I came across the following elucidation of Foucault’s concept of governmentality.

Legitimate sovereignty is about ensuring the common good, which Foucault points out, consists of a state of affairs where all subjects obey the laws, accomplish the tasks expected of them, respect the established order. “This means that the end of sovereignty is circular…The good is obedience to the law, hence the good for sovereignty is that people should obey it…” With government, we see “emerging a new kind of finality. Government is defined as a right manner of disposing of things so as to lead not to a form of the common good…but to an end which is ‘convenient’ for each of the things that has to be governed. This implies a plurality of specific aims: for instance, government will have to ensure that the greatest possible quantity of wealth is produced, that people are provided with sufficient means of subsistence…In order to achieve these various finalities, things must be disposed…” (94-5)

from Foucault and Indian Scholarship by Nevidita Menon

This made me think back to a panel a helped co-organize (along with Chris Vasantkumar and Mattias Viktorin) at the last American Anthropological Association Meetings.  It was called “How is Anthropology Going?” and was, in part an attempt to think through movement in anthropological text and praxis as a type of ethics or politics.  We argued, in the end, that the discipline’s diverse valences were its politics, not a result of its politics (or of any kind of cognitive or theoretical dissonance).

What struck me in particular from the above passage was the word “convenient”.   The word means, at base, “to come (along) together,” does it not?  Conveniency as the Ends of Governance… interesting.

Does this mean that anthropology is a form of governance?  Not the anthropology of governmentality, but anthropology as governmentality?

Conference: Violence and Creativity (and the Police Nationale)

Next Saturday (March 7th) I’m going to be giving the first in a trilogy of papers this month on the role of the Police Nationale in French banlieue riots of 2005 and 2008.  The overall goal is to finally have an article ready to go, in the end.

The paper on Saturday is entitled “Electric Burns: governmentality and its discontents in the French banlieue riots”.  The title of the conference is “Violence & Creativity” (see abstracts for both after the break).  It’s sposored by UC Berkeley‘s Center for South Asian Studies and it will be held at International House in Berkeley between 10m and 4pm.  The headliner is Ashis Nandy, who was recent named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world.

Continue reading Conference: Violence and Creativity (and the Police Nationale)

a blog about post-social policing, anthropology, science studies and more

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