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Colonialism, Crime, and Social Control  

Viviane Saleh-Hanna

Crime is a distinctly European concept that was institutionalized into the criminal justice system through the penal code, created in the 1700s by founding theorists of criminology’s classical school of thought. In practice, crime is a concept that limits what can be defined as harmful and violent. Written at the height of Europe’s genocidal colonial wars and chattel slavery, the penal code excluded, and continues to exclude mass atrocities and violations committed through these institutions. Since criminal justice institutions were birthed through and spread by Western Europe’s colonial wars around the globe, the study of colonialism, crime, and social control requires a re-evaluation of the pillars of Western European thought and the peculiar colonizing economies and punitive praxis that produced the criminal justice system. Through an anticolonial, genealogical framework scholars and researchers can better locate criminal justice institutions, practices, and concepts within their colonial contexts, allowing for a more thorough understanding of how history, power, politics, and economy shape crime and practice social control in the 21st century. At the core of an anticolonial study of crime and social control is an understanding that Europe’s crime-concept depends upon institutionalized constructions of dangerousness for colonized people and nations, and lack thereof, for colonizing people and nations. Dangerousness, as defined by colonial renditions of race, gender, sexuality, ability, class, nation, and so forth, anchors the cultural and implemented processes of criminalization; as a result, proper and comprehensive deconstructions of colonizing definitions of dangerousness require an intersectional understanding of power and oppression. Therefore, an effective framework for the study of colonialism, crime, and social control necessitates a re-evaluation and re-articulation of the following questions: what is colonialism?; what is crime?; what is colonial social control?; and what is criminology’s relationship to colonialism?

Article

Critical Criminologies  

Walter S. DeKeseredy

There is no single critical criminology. Rather, there are critical criminologies with different histories, methods, theories, and political perspectives. However, critical criminology is often defined as a perspective that views the major sources of crime as the unequal class, race/ethnic, and gender relations that control our society. Critical criminologists oppose prisons and other draconian means of social control. Their main goal is major radical and cultural change, but they recognize that these transitions will not occur in the current neoliberal era. Hence, most critical criminologists propose short-term anticrime policies and practices and fundamental social, economic, and political transformations, such as a change from a capitalist economy to one based on more socialist principles.

Article

Cross-Cultural Causation of Violence Against Women  

Nicholas J. Chagnon and Laura Rouse

Cultural analysis has historically been a core part of activism and scholarship surrounding violence against women. For instance, first-wave feminists linked domestic violence to cultural dynamics. Regrettably, they did so in a xenophobic and ethnocentric way that stigmatized new immigrants to the United States around the turn of the 20th century. More recently, feminism’s second wave problematized violence against women partly through the use of patriarchy as a cultural-structural concept. Following that, liberal feminists often reproduced the ethnocentrism of first-wave feminism, at times linking violence against women in the Global South to local cultures. Such viewpoints have been characterized as “feminist Orientalism.” Much of the extant scholarship on violence against women and culture focuses on cultural difference, looking at how the specificities of individual cultures may promote or stifle violence against women. Some of this scholarship has been criticized for promoting racist notions and anxieties, but much of this scholarship has documented important cultural variation connected to high levels of violence against women. Yet, a lens focused on cultural sameness is an equally valid analysis. An analysis based on cultural sameness is particularly useful for understanding the etiological role played by transnational institutions in promoting violence against women. For instance, warfare, borders, and the prison-industrial complex are highly influential transnational institutions that play a powerful role in the etiology of violence against women. Much sexual violence, physical abuse, and killings of women occur in the context of these institutions, including forms such as rape used as a weapon of war, sexual violence against immigrant detainees, and rapes committed by prison staff. The violence plays out in clear and important gendered patterns. Not only are these three institutions influential transnational ones, but they are also core elements of contemporary states. Warfare is a central element of state-making, while borders are intrinsic to securing the territorial integrity of states. Furthermore, prisons have become a principal tool of social control throughout this planet. Thus, one can conclude that the violence meted out in the context of these institutions is, among other things, state violence. The systems of power underpinning the state are salient here as well. Systems such as patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism predate the contemporary state and have defined the social conditions that gave rise to contemporary states. The state emerges and exists at the intersections of these systems. The state’s core institutions, such as warfare, borders, and prisons, are highly influenced by these systems, and the roles played by such institutions often reproduce these systems of power. In light of these dynamics, an institutional analysis of violence against women reveals the ways in which it is central to the operation and reproduction of contemporary states, and in turn, it illuminates the state as a primary force in the etiology of violence against women.

Article

Selling Sex in a Global Context  

Aimee Wodda and Meghna Bhat

Commercial sex continues to be an object of debate in the realm of criminological and criminal justice. The regulation of commercial sex in a global context varies due to local law, culture, and custom. Global criminolegal responses to selling sex include criminalization, decriminalization, abolition, neo-abolition, and legalization. In recent decades, global public policymakers have become increasingly concerned with the public health aspects associated with negative outcomes related to the criminalization of the purchase, facilitation, and/or sale of sex. These concerns include violence against those who sell sex, stigma when attempting to access healthcare and social services, increased risk of sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs or STDs) including HIV/AIDS, and economic vulnerability that leaves many who sell sex unable to negotiate the use of condoms and at risk of police arrest for carrying condoms. Those most at risk of harm tend to be young people, LGBTQ populations, and people who are racial or ethnic minorities within their communities—these are often intersecting identities. Organizations such as Amnesty International, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, Human Rights Watch, UN AIDS, and the World Health Organization recommend decriminalization of commercial sex in order to reduce stigma and increase positive health outcomes. Scholars have also examined the challenges faced by migrant sex workers and the problematic effects of being labeled a victim of trafficking. Contemporary strategies geared toward reducing harm for those who sell sex tend to focus on rights issues and how they affect the well-being of those who sell sex.