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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Political Interactions in Contexts of Presence and Influence of Criminal Organisations

Organised Crime
Political Theory
Panel Number
Panel Chair
Jean-Louis BRIQUET
Université de Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne
Panel Co-Chair
Falko Ernst
University of Essex

05/09/2014 17:40 - 19:20
Building: Adam Smith Floor: 7 Room: 711
The question of the inter-linkages between politics and criminal organizations has been widely researched. Yet, most studies tend to hermetically oppose politics and criminal networks. Moreover, these studies are commonly bases on the assumed retreat, defeat, and/or absence of the state. Drawing on first-hand empirical data, this panel questions these predominant, yet artificially reductionist conceptualizations entailing normatively distorted representations of local realities.

Cases from Mexico, Europe, as well as Pakistan – all of which are based on close-proximity empirical research –, serve as a basis to critically examine questions of state and stateness. The latter are essential to illuminate the ways in which those occupying structures of legal authority behave within criminal environments, producing contingent configurations of great complexity. Political capabilities assumed by different criminal organizations are analyzed alongside those social networks that lie at the core of state-criminal-actor-interactions and the production of violence and resistance.

Specifically, this panel:

(i) examines the links between criminal organizations and political actors by introducing a much-needed distance to dichotomist and normatively biased approaches. We underline how criminal violence is employed by both state and criminal actors, be it in pursuit of common or antinomic objectives;
(ii) puts the concept of clientelism under scrutiny by extracting it from a purely “electoral” reading. To do so, we discuss different configurations of patron-client relationships and examine the effects particular criminal contexts exert on such interactions;
(iii) and questions the assumption that politics and criminal networks necessarily form a structurally homogeneous system characterized by a balance of power, influence, and an evident division of roles. Politics are not an exclusive tool in the hands of the state, quite the opposite. Criminal networks mobilize and use political and social capital to produce shared forms of order and sovereignty in which the state is far from absent.

Paper List

Title Details
Criminal Hubris? Karachi’s Gangsters and the Rough Road from Strong-Arm Brokerage to Political Patronage View Paper Details
Governing Legitimacy: Third-Order Territorial Fragmentation and the Changing Nature of Mexico’s 'Drug-Fuelled' Conflict View Paper Details
Governing the Mafia: Criminal Groups and Political Power in Eastern Sicily View Paper Details
Land Ownership, Political Patronage and Organised Violence in Michoacán: The Rancheros as the Socio-Political Basis for Contemporary Criminal Organisations View Paper Details
Migration and Mafia Activities: An Ethnographic Analysis of Italian Migrants’ Criminal Practices in Belgium View Paper Details
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