Between the street and the state: Crime and citizenship in Kingston, Jamaica
02 / 2010 - 01 / 2013
Until recently, citizenship referred to the relationship between nation-states and their citizens. Recent scholarship, however, indicates the emergence of new and flexible forms and sites of citizenship, related to transnational networks, supranational institutions and social movements. Nation-states face a situation where different governance structures compete for citizens? allegiance. This proposed research studies through what social, economic and political arrangements criminal organizations take on a state-like role and become viable governance structures, especially in marginalized urban areas and amongst excluded social groups. Drawing on the emerging field of the anthropology of the state, this research proposal addresses the following questions: When do citizens accept formal, state-based forms of governance and belonging and when do they reject them in favor of other, criminal forms? How do state practices and discourse validate certain types of citizens and exclude others? What role do the different dimensions of ?substantive? citizenship - rights, responsibilities and participation - play in these processes? Connecting the ?gap? between citizens and the state to the rise of criminal networks, this research answers these questions through a comparison of formal and criminal governance structures. It studies how citizens? relations to the state and its competitors are constructed, maintained and contested, through the interpretive case study of Kingston, Jamaica. These configurations of citizenship are analyzed by studying the relations between formal state actors, criminal actors and residents of marginalized neighborhoods. Where most empirical research has focused on either political institutions or local communities, this proposal argues for a ?vertical slice? approach to researching citizenship, studying simultaneously from below and from above how state-citizen relations are negotiated. By addressing the links between ?the street? and ?the state?, it compares the ways in which the state and criminal organizations provide citizens with access to crucial services and resources, and offer frameworks for social inclusion.