Anthropology of Crime and Security:
Conference Report

by Thomas Hoppenheit on July 8, 2022

For the first time, the Anthropology of Security Network and the Anthropology of Crime and
Criminalization Network joined forces and organized a joint conference. This was driven by
the rationale that there is a great deal of overlap in the topics and research foci of the two
networks, and the convenors deemed it fruitful to bring these foci into conversation.
A website was set up to inform participants about the program and registration.
The conference took place from 17 to 19 May at the University of Bologna, Italy, at the
Department of History and Cultures.

Download the full report as PDF or read more below!

The Conference

The conference was met with great interest. More than 70 speakers and participants came
from a wide range of countries from Brazil to Georgia, and shared their research and
analyses in the fields of security and crime. The topic attracted both early-career and
experienced scholars willing to share their experiences in difficult terrain, and it drew a
number of scholars from other disciplines such as criminology and political science, resulting
in fruitful interdisciplinary synergies in our discussions.

The 11 panels covered a wide thematic and geographical area. Security and securitization,
crime and criminalization, as well as policing and other adjacent themes were discussed in a
historical dimension, beyond the human, in the post-colony, in terms of state and public
responses and moral ambivalences (see the list of panels in the program).

The panels were complemented by a book presentation session comprising author
presentations of three relevant books: Deniz Yonucu’s monograph Police, Provocation,
Politics: Counterinsurgency in Istanbul
; Clara Rigoni’s Honour-Based Violence and Forced
Marriages: Community and Restorative Practices in Europe
; and Mafia Raj: The rule of
bosses in South Asia
, co-authored by Lucia Michelutti, Ashraf Hoque, Nicolas Martin, David
Picherit, Paul Rollier, Arild E. Ruud, and Clarinda Still.

Additionally, two laboratories were organized by the Anthropology of Security network. The
“Methods Lab” was dedicated to the various challenges of ethnography in the field of
security and crime, and was organized according to the World Café model. The Lab included
exchanges on topics such as rapport, secrecy, power relations, experimentation, methods
‘on the move’, visual & sensorial methods, the body in fieldwork, decolonizing methods, and
interdisciplinarity in the study of crime and security, etc.

The “Writing Lab” discussed ways of ethnographic writing about security and crime, with a
particular focus on drawing as an ethnographic method. The participants discovered the
advantages of drawing ethnography, became familiar with examples of such ethnographies,
and carried out an applied exercise under the guidance of Dr Monika Weissensteiner,
exchanging impressions afterwards. Both labs were praised by participants for the space
they created for dialogue, exchange, and experimentation.

The conference began and ended with keynotes given by renowned scholars of security and
crime. The first keynote was given by Mark Maguire from Maynooth University (Ireland) (in
collaboration with Setha Low), and was titled “Defund Security: Counter-terrorism and
Security Capitalism”. The final keynote was given by Dennis Rodgers (The Graduate
Institute, Geneva, Switzerland): “Delinquent ethnography? 25 years of gang research in
Nicaragua and elsewhere”. Both keynotes were followed by Q&A sessions that were
engaging and fruitful.

At the end of the conference, the last session was used to summarize the main themes and
issues that emerged from the panels, laboratories, and keynotes, and to address questions.
As network convenors, we are very satisfied with this event and received positive feedback
from several participants. The on-site organization by Davide Casciano (AnthroCrime) and
his team of fourteen volunteers was excellent, the atmosphere during the conference was
very constructive and provided a great space for researchers to share their work and

It is expected that as a result of the conference, several panels will pursue the work started
in Bologna and publish special issues with articles based on the conference papers. There is
currently a call for abstracts for a special issue in the journal Errantes of the University of
Bologna on the topic of the criminalization of migration, which was opened to the conference

Funding and Expenses

This conference and support to young scholars have been realized with the financial support
of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, the University of Bologna, the Gerda
Henkel Foundation, and the University of Klagenfurt. The logos were included in all printed
material and their support was indicated on the homepage. EASA funding was used for
travel costs and accommodation for precarious early-career scholars and for modically
compensating the labour of the students who served as volunteers. Other funding was used
for keynote speakers, catering, printed materials, badges, and book vouchers for the
volunteers. The total amount of funding used for the conference was 10.873,34 EUR (out of
the 11.000 pooled from different sources). EASA’s contribution amounted to 3.000 EUR.


Call for panels; call for papers; conference program; screenshot of the keynotes; poster;

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