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Since its genesis, critical criminology has been committed to a critique of domination and to developing and exploring broader conceptions of "crime" to include "harms" that are not necessarily proscribed by law. Without diminishing the contributions of early or current critical criminologists, this article suggests that critical criminology can further its goals by looking to anthropology. Such a recommendation is not without risk. Early "criminal anthropology" regarded criminality as inherited and contended that individuals could be "born criminal" (e.g., Fletcher 1891). Subsequent anthropological investigations of crime were and have continued to be sporadic, and the discipline's approach to crime has not been particularly unified. (Anthropology has often considered crime within broader explorations of law, for example, or through related, albeit different, examinations of sorcery and witchcraft.) Despite these limitations or shortcomings, this article presents three ways in which anthropology can speak to, and engage with, critical criminology's "insistence that criminological inquiry move beyond the boundaries imposed by legalistic definitions of crime" and its critique of domination (Michalowksi 1996:11): 1) anthropology can help reveal processes of domination that are pervasive; 2) anthropology can remind us that what constitutes "crime" is culturally specific and temporal; and 3) anthropology can help provide paradigms for better living-allowing critical criminologists to be not just critical, not just prescriptive, but aspirational. A wide range of ethnographic accounts is considered.
Keywords: anthropology; culture; domination; harm; power; resistance
As a subject, "crime" has not generated significant interest in the field of cultural anthropology.While one could point to an anthology here or a review essay there, one would be hard-pressed to support the contention that anthropology has approached crime in a coherent, unified, or sustained way-or that it has even generated substantial, ongoing debates about crime. Most often, crime appears in the context of some other inquiry, such as disorder (Comaroff and Comaroff 2004, 2006), violence (e.g., Betzig et al. 1988; Knauft et al. 1991), witchcraft and sorcery (Favret-Saada 1980; Geschiere 1997), primitive law (Driberg 1928), the nature of the relationship between law and conflict (Collier 1975), or labor, employment, social stratification, and the effects of deindustrialization (e.g., Bourgois 1996; Phillips 1999; Sullivan 1989), rather than on its own and as the primary subject of anthropological attention (cf. Parnell and Kane 2003; Schneider and Schneider 2008).
This phenomenon may be due, in part, to sociology's near hegemony over all matters crime-related (before criminology became its own discipline or sub-discipline, depending on one's perspective). But cultural anthro-pology's lack of attention to crime may also be attributed, at least in part, to the regrettable subfield of criminal anthropology (also known as anthropological crim-inology), which Fletcher (1891:204), in his famous address to the Anthropological Society of Washington, defined as "the study of the being who, in consequence of physical conformation, hereditary taint, or surroundings of vice, poverty, and ill example, yields to temptation and begins a career of crime." Although such efforts to "biologize law-breaking" (Rafter 2007:808) were later discredited and abandoned because of concerns for their racist and eugenicist policy implications (Cullen and Agnew 2006:22; see also Brennan et al. 1995:65; Raine 2002:43), the experience may have left anthropology reluctant to venture into the world of crime.
Such unwillingness is unfortunate for a number of very basic reasons: 1) anthropology shares sociology's and criminology's forefathers (e.g., Durkheim, Marx, Weber) and canonical figures (e.g., Foucault) - individuals who contemplated issues of conflict and cooperation, power and punishment, which lie at the heart of or are integral to understandings of crime;5 2) while all cultures possess proscribed behaviors, "crime" is still culturally-specific and peoples differ (over time) over what behavior is to be condemned and condoned (see
e.g., Betzig et al. 1988; Brisman 2006; Cullen and Agnew 2006:266-67; Daly and Wilson 1997:53; Ellis and Walsh 1997:230; Fletcher 1891:204; Herrnstein 1995:40), rendering crime ideal for longitudinal and comparative anthropological study; and 3) relatively few ethnographies of crime exist — “thick” accounts (in the Geertzian sense) of the experience of committing crimes or participating in a subculture of crime, of being a victim, of residing in a community that fears crime, or of migrating to a particular community because of its low crime rate.
This last point merits some clarification. I do not mean to suggest that researchers have not employed ethnographic field methods in their study of crime. Many fine ethnographies of crime have improved and shaped our understanding of the convergence of cultural and criminal processes in various societies (e.g., Adler 1985; Becker 1963; Ferrell 1993; Ferrell and Hamm 1998; Humphreys 1975). But only a small percentage have been written by anthropologists or with an anthropological perspective (e.g., Malinowski 1959; Merry 1981). While ethnography does not and should not reside solely under the dominion of anthropology (see Kratz 2007), given anthropology’s strength with this methodology and the fact that the study of crime has been increasingly dominated by “shallow survey research” and “abstract statistical analysis” (Ferrell 1999:402),6 there is a tremendous need for more anthropologically-oriented studies of crime (see generally Betzig et al. 1988; Burawoy et al. 1991; Hagedorn 1990; Polsky 1969; Van Maanen 1995; and Sampson and Groves 1989).
Furthermore, while sociology is often focused on social structures (and while criminology tends to focus either on how individual characteristics influence actors’ propensity for aggression, violence, and crime based on biological or social psychological antecedents, or on individuals in relation to their larger social environments, such as schools, neighborhoods, and nation states (Griffiths, Yule, and Gartner 2011), anthropology appreciates these structures, characteristics, and environments, but realizes that much of what makes humans “human” lies in cultural ideation (Donovan 2008:xiv). In other words, because anthropology casts a wider net than its sister discipline, sociology—because anthropology extends beyond society and social structures — because anthropology considers elements of culture, such as beliefs, ideas, symbols, and other internal dimensions of group living (Donovan 2008:xviii) —anthropology can provide further avenues for understanding how “crime” is, has been, or might be defined, prevented, and controlled, as well as its meaning for offenders, victims, cultural groups, and society, more generally. As such, anthropology should be more heavily invested in issues of, and matters pertaining to, crime and criminology, or can, at the very least, and as this article suggests, contribute to criminologist’s study of crime.
Despite anthropology’s inattention to crime as a singular subject matter — or, at least, anthropology’s sporadic interest in crime — there is much that criminology as a whole could gain from a consideration of anthropological approaches, insights, and perspectives on crime. For example, Collier (1975:125) provides anthro-pological support for both labeling theory and Quinney’s (1969, 1974) Marxist criminology. There may still be fruitful linkages between criminology and biological and evolutionary anthropology (see, e.g., Brisman 2010c). To offer a third example: anthropologists, because of the time spent in the field, and the scope of their inquiries, can consider the distinctions and relationships between “norms” and “institutions,” “legal formalities” and “legal realities,” and “rules” and “behaviors” (Donovan 2008:14, 18, 23-24) — all of which could have bearing on criminological studies and explorations.
1.2 Objective of Study – – – – – – –
The study to considers ways that anthropology can help or advance critical criminology — or reasons why critical criminologists might look to some of the work of anthropologists. More specifically, the objective of study is to identify ways in which anthropology can speak to, and engage with, critical criminology’s. the objective of the study can further be streamlined into:
1. To determine how Anthropology can help reveal processes of domination that are pervasive.
2. To determine how Anthropology can remind us that what constitutes “crime” is culturally specific and temporal (a point alluded to above).
3. To determine how Anthropology can help provide paradigms for better living—allowing critical criminologists to be not just critical, not just prescriptive, but aspirational.
1.3 Significance of Study – – – – –
This study will also identify other ways to reduce crime and their effectiveness. And it will explain contextual factors that are responsible for crimes. This study will help policy makers and law enforcing agencies to avoid crimes by using proper critical theories.
14. Definition of Terms – – – – – – –
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