The Truth about Crime: Sovereignty, Knowledge, Social Order

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

In this book, renowned anthropologists Jean and John L. Comaroff make a startling but absolutely convincing claim about our modern era: it is not by our arts, our politics, or our science that we understand ourselves—it is by our crimes. Surveying an astonishing range of forms of crime and policing—from petty thefts to the multibillion-dollar scams of too-big-to-fail financial institutions to the collateral damage of war—they take readers into the disorder of the late modern world. Looking at recent transformations in the triangulation of capital, the state, and governance that have led to an era where crime and policing are ever more complicit, they offer a powerful meditation on the new forms of sovereignty, citizenship, class, race, law, and political economy of representation that have arisen.

To do so, the Comaroffs draw on their vast knowledge of South Africa, especially, and its struggle to build a democracy founded on the rule of law out of the wreckage of long years of violence and oppression. There they explore everything from the fascination with the supernatural in policing to the extreme measures people take to prevent home invasion, drawing illuminating comparisons to the United States and United Kingdom. Going beyond South Africa, they offer a global criminal anthropology that attests to criminality as the constitutive fact of contemporary life, the vernacular by which politics are conducted, moral panics voiced, and populations ruled.

The result is a disturbing but necessary portrait of the modern era, one that asks critical new questions about how we see ourselves, how we think about morality, and how we are going to proceed as a global society.
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About the author

Jean Comaroff is the Alfred North Whitehead Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology and an Oppenheimer Fellow in African Studies at Harvard University, where John L. Comaroff is the Hugh K. Foster Professor of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology and an Oppenheimer Fellow in African Studies. Both Honorary Professors at the University of Cape Town, they have authored and coauthored many books, several together, including Of Revelation and Revolution (Volumes 1 and 2), Law and Disorder in the Postcolony and Ethnicity Inc., all published by the University of Chicago Press and, most recently, Theory from the South: Or, How Euro-America is Evolving toward Africa.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Dec 5, 2016
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780226425078
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Africa / South / Republic of South Africa
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
Social Science / Criminology
Social Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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This book provides an account and analysis of the history of the Bow Street Runners, precursors of today's police force. Through a detailed analysis of a wide range of both qualitative and quantitative research data, this book provides a fresh insight into their history, arguing that the use of Bow Street personnel in provincially instigated cases was much more common than has been assumed by many historians. It also demonstrates that the range of activities carried out by Bow Street personnel whilst employed on such cases was far more complex than can be gleaned from the majority of books and articles concerning early nineteenth-century provincial policing, which often do little more than touch on the role of Bow Street. By describing the various roles and activities of the Bow Street Principal Officers with specific regard to cases originating in the provinces it also places them firmly within the wider contexts of provincial law-enforcement and policing history.

The book investigates the types of case in which the 'Runners' were involved, who employed them and why, how they operated, including their interaction with local law-enforcement bodies, and how they were perceived by those who utilized their services. It also discusses the legacy of the Principal Officers with regard to subsequent developments within policing. Bow Street Police Office and its personnel have long been regarded by many historians as little more than a discrete and often inconsequential footnote to the history of policing, leading to a partial and incomplete understanding of their work. This viewpoint is challenged in this book, which argues that in several ways the utilization of Principal Officers in provincially instigated cases paved the way for important subsequent developments in policing, especially with regard to detective practices. It is also the first work to provide a clear distinction between the Principal Officers and their less senior colleagues.

At the heart of 21st century discourses are questions of whose lives may matter more than others. While the debates themselves are not new, the #hashtags they are linked to and the media through which concerns around moralities of living together are expressed allow for debates to reach large numbers of people in accelerated, individualised and accessible ways. The new media have been powerful in (re)igniting debates and (re)activating demands for social change. Yet, the focus of ubiquitous #hashtags on binary positions may render it easy to neglect their nuances and facets. In recognition of grey-zones, contradictions and ambiguities, this ethnography focuses on a suburb of Cape Town, Observatory, and its recently revived Neighbourhood Watch as an urban renewal project and attempt to decrease notions of vulnerability to crime and violence.

In Observatory – considered to be liberal and bohemian by its inhabitants – the framing of topics within the Neighbourhood Watch group often take on an abstract, intellectualised form. Nevertheless, the group with its rather clashing ideals is grounded in and fuelled by recycled crime stories as well as snapshots of suspected criminals that continue to reappear via various social media channels. Individual experiences, stories and inner conflicts of local Neighbourhood Watch members are at the centre of this exploratory engagement with how fear becomes embodied, everyday practice and the ways in which desires for relationality and spatial exclusivity become entangled in a place where every life matters only in principle. 

Although there is plentiful research on the impact of marriage, employment and the military on desistance from criminal behaviour in the lives of men, far less is known about the factors most important to women’s desistance. Imprisoned women are far more likely than their male counterparts to be the primary caretakers of children before their incarceration, and are far more likely to intend to reunify with their children upon their release from incarceration. This book focuses on the role of mothering in women’s desistance from criminal behaviour.

Drawing on original research, this book explores the nature of mothering during incarceration, how mothers maintain a relationship with their children from behind bars and the ways in which mothering makes desistance more or less likely after incarceration. It outlines the ways in which race, gender, class, nationality, sexuality, gender identity, and other characteristics affect mothering and desistance, and explores the tensions between individual and system-level factors in the consideration of desistance.

This book suggests that any discussion of desistance, particularly for women, must move beyond the traditional focus on individual characteristics and decision-making. Such a focus overlooks the role played by context and systems which undermine both women's attempts to be mothers and their attempts to desist. By contrast, in the tradition of Beth Richie’s Compelled to Crime, this book explores both the trees and the forests, and the quantum in-between, in a way that aims for lasting societal and individual changes.

In Ethnicity, Inc. anthropologists John L. and Jean Comaroff analyze a new moment in the history of human identity: its rampant commodification. Through a wide-ranging exploration of the changing relationship between culture and the market, they address a pressing question: Wherein lies the future of ethnicity?

Their account begins in South Africa, with the incorporation of an ethno-business in venture capital by a group of traditional African chiefs. But their horizons are global: Native American casinos; Scotland’s efforts to brand itself; a Zulu ethno-theme park named Shakaland; a world religion declared to be intellectual property; a chiefdom made into a global business by means of its platinum holdings; San “Bushmen” with patent rights potentially worth millions of dollars; nations acting as commercial enterprises; and the rapid growth of marketing firms that target specific ethnic populations are just some of the diverse examples that fall under the Comaroffs’ incisive scrutiny. These phenomena range from the disturbing through the intriguing to the absurd. Through them, the Comaroffs trace the contradictory effects of neoliberalism as it transforms identities and social being across the globe.

Ethnicity, Inc. is a penetrating account of the ways in which ethnic populations are remaking themselves in the image of the corporation—while corporations coopt ethnic practices to open up new markets and regimes of consumption. Intellectually rigorous but leavened with wit, this is a powerful, highly original portrayal of a new world being born in a tectonic collision of culture, capitalism, and identity.

Failures caused by electrostatic discharges (ESD) constitute a major problem concerning the reliability and robustness of integrated circuits and electronic systems. This book summarizes the many diverse methodologies aimed at ESD protection and shows, through a number of concrete studies, that the best approach in terms of robustness and cost-effectiveness consists of implementing a global strategy of ESD protection. ESD Protection Methodologies begins by exploring the various normalized test techniques that are used to qualify ESD robustness as well as characterization and defect localization methods aimed at implementing corrective measures. Due to the increasing complexity of integrated circuits, it is important to be able to provide a simulation in which the implemented ESD protection strategy provides the desired protection, while not harming the performance levels of the circuit. Therefore, the main features and difficulties related to the different types of simulation, finite element, SPICE-type and behavioral, are then studied. To conclude, several case studies are presented which provide real-life examples of the approaches explained in the previous chapters and validate a number of the strategies from component to system level. Provides a global ESD protection approach from component to system, including both the proposal of investigation techniques and predictive simulation methodologiesAddresses circuit and system designers as well as failure analysis engineersProvides the description of specifically developed investigation techniques and the application of the proposed methodologies to real case studies
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