Anthropology of Crime
European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) network
Syllabus designed by Ellen Moodie, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL USA.
In this course, we will challenge “common-sense” notions about crime, broadly conceived, though the discipline of cultural anthropology. We will compare ideas about and representations of lawbreaking, criminality, criminalization, corruption, misconduct, danger, violence, offense, policing, and justice in several different parts of the world. Our goals in this course include finding ways to understand both how something becomes categorized as criminal and how some populations and certain acts become criminalized.
Through the 15 weeks of the semester you will read, discuss, and write about questions of identity, in/security, and power not only in relation to governance and illegality within states, but also within particular communities. We will focus especially on moments of ambiguity. By the end of the course you should have a sense of how notions of crime and justice can be constructed differently through changing historical, political, and cultural logics, drawing on anthropological theories and methods. You should recognize that there is nothing “natural” about il/legality. You should be able to think critically about public discourses and policies on, and participate in public debates about, crime.
Coetzee, J.M. Disgrace. New York: Penguin, 1999. Shoshan, Nitzan. The Management of Hate: Nation, Affect, and the Governance of Right- Wing Extremism in Germany. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016. and see "Schedule" below.
T January 16
Th January 18
Rosaldo, Renato. Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989: “Grief and a Headhunter’s Rage” and section from “After Objectivism”: 1-21 (focus on 1-12) and 62-67.
T January 23
Anthropological stories, continued
Geertz, Clifford. The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books, 1973. “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight,” 412-454.
Th January 25
Crime and society
Durkheim, Émile. Émile Durkheim: Selected Writings, edited by Anthony Giddens. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1972. “The Science of Morality” and “Forms of Social Solidarity,” 96-107 and 123-140.
T January 30
Crime and society, continued
Malinowski, Bronislaw. Crime and Custom in Savage Society. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1926. “Introduction,” “The Automatic Submission to Custom and the Real Problem,” “An Anthropological Definition of the Law,” and “The Law in Breach and the Restoration of Order”: 1-5, 9-16, 55-59, 71-84.
Comaroff, Jean. “The New Anthropology of Crime.” Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR) 33 (1) (May 2010): 133-139.
Th February 1
Film: The Central Park Five. Directed by Ken Burns. Florentine Films/WETA, 2012. See http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/centralparkfive/about/overview/
Filipovic, Jill. “The painful lessons of the Central Park Five and the jogger rape case.” The Guardian, October 5, 2012. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/05/central-park-five-rape-case
Weiser, Benjamin. “5 Exonerated in Central Park Jogger Case Agree to Settle Suit for $40 million.” New York Times, June 19, 2014. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/20/nyregion/5-exonerated-in-central-park-jogger-case-are-to-settle-suit-for-40-million.html?_r=0
Background: New York Times, “The Central Park Jogger Case.” https://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/central-park-jogger-case-1989
T February 6
Galliher, John F. “The Willie Horton Fact, Faith, and Commonsense Theory of Crime.” In Criminology as Peacemaking, edited by Harold E. Pepinsky and Richard Quinney, 245-250. Bloomington, Ind: Indiana University Press, 1991.
Gould, Stephen Jay. The Mismeasure of Man. New York: W.W. Norton, 1981. “Measuring Bodies: Two Case Studies on the Apishness of Undesirables”: 113-145 (focus on 122-145).
Th February 8
Murji, Karim. “Wild Life: Constructions and Representations of Yardies.” In Making Trouble: Cultural Constructions of Crime, Deviance, and Control, edited by Jeff Ferrell and Neil Websdale, 179-201. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1999.
Due: Writing assignment 1: Media and race/class/sex
T February 13
Wacquant, Loïc. Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2009: “Prologue,” “Social Security and the Punitive Upsurge,” and “The Criminalization of Poverty in the Post-Civil Rights Era,” xi-xxiii, 1-37, and 41-75.
Th February 15
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books, 1977 : Selections from “Illegalities and Delinquency,” 275-292.
T February 20
Gender and law
Film: Thelma and Louise. Directed by Ridley Scott. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, 1991.
Spelman, Elizabeth V. and Martha Minow. “Outlaw Women: An Essay on ‘Thelma and Louise.’” In Gender, Crime, and Feminism, edited by Ngaire Naffine, 229-244. Aldershot, England and Brookfield, Vt. Dartmouth Publishing, 1995.
Th February 22
Gender, space/time, and danger
Lamas, Marta. “By Night, a Street Rite: ‘Public’ Women of the Night in the Streets of Mexico City.” In Gender’s Place: Feminist Anthropologies of Latin America, edited by Rosario Montoya, Lessie Jo Frazier, and Janise Hurtig, 237-253. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
Pain, Rachel. “Space, Sexual Violence and Social Control: Integrating Geographical and Feminist Analysis of Women’s Fear of Crime.” Progress in Human Geography 15 (4), 415-431.
Due: Writing assignment 2: Gender and in/security
T February 27
Sexual assault on campus
Film: The Hunting Ground. Directed by Kirby Dick. CNN/Artemis Films, 2015.
Th March 1
Slaughter, Jane. “No Casting Couch for Low-Wage Women, but Lots of Sexual Harassment.” LaborNotes, October 13, 2017. http://www.labornotes.org/2017/10/no-casting-couch-low-wage-women-lots
Gilbert, Sophie. “The Movement of #MeToo: How a hashtag got its power.” The Atlantic, October 16, 2017 https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/10/the-movement-of-metoo/542979/
Garcia, Sandra. “The Woman Who Created #MeToo Long Before Hashtags.” The New York Times, October 20, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/us/me-too movement-tarana-burke.html
Gessen, Masha. “Sex, Consent, and the Dangers of Misplaced Scale.” The New Yorker, November 27, 2017. https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/sexconsent-dangers-of-misplaced-scale
Merkin, Daphne. “Publicly, We Say #MeToo. Privately, We Have Misgivings.” The New York Times, January 5, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/05/opinion/golden-globes-metoo.html
Donadio, Rachel. “France, Where #MeToo Becomes #PasMoi.” The Atlantic, January 9, 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/france-metoo/550124/
T March 6
Narrative, self, and crime
Caldeira, Teresa P.R. City of Walls: Crime, Segregation and Citizenship in Sao Paulo. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000: “Talking of Crime and Ordering the World,” 19-51.
Th March 8
Narrative, self, and crime, continued
Wachs, Eleanor. Crime Victim Stories: New York City’s Urban Folklore. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988: “Introduction,” ix-xx.
Mattingly, Cheryl, Mary Lawlor and Lanita Jacobs-Huey. “Narrating September 11: Race, Gender, and the Play of Cultural Identities.” American Anthropologist 104 (3): 743-753 (2002).
T March 13
Narrative, self, and crime, continued
Moodie, Ellen. “Adventure Time in San Salvador.” In El Salvador in the Aftermath of Peace: Crime, Uncertainty, and the Transition to Democracy, 113-139. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.
Th March 15
Other kinds of crime narratives
Comaroff, Jean, and John L. Comaroff, “Figuring Crime: Quantifacts and the Production of the Un/Real.” Public Culture 18 (1) (2006): 209-240.
Due: Writing assignment 3: Crime story
T March 27
Police and policing
Guest speaker: Jeff Martin, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and East Asian Languages and Cultures, UIUC.
Martin, Jeff. “Police and Policing.” Annual Review of Anthropology. Forthcoming, draft. (Read sections).
Th March 29
Policing and space
Herbert, Steve. Policing Space: Territoriality and the Los Angeles Police Department. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997: “Territoriality and the Police” and “The Law and Police Territoriality,” 9-58 (focus on 9-23; 32 [starting with “The Research”]-53; and 58 [“Conclusion”]).
T April 3
Coetzee, Disgrace, 1-99.
Writing Assignment 4: Policing controversy
Th April 5
Film: Disgrace. Directed by Steve Jacobs. Wild Strawberries/Sherman Pictures, 2008.
T April 10
Coetzee, Disgrace, 100-162
Th April 12
Coetzee, Disgrace, 163-220.
T April 17
Shoshan, The Management of Hate, 3-54; 55-84.
Th April 19
Shoshan, The Management of Hate, 87-116; 117-140.
T April 24
Shoshan, The Management of Hate, 141-168; 169-195.
Th April 26
Shoshan, The Management of Hate, 199-226; 227-259; 261-267.
T May 1
You may download the full syllabus as a PDF below: