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The Hidden History of Crime, Corruption, and States

The Hidden History of Crime, Corruption, and States

Edited by Renate Bridenthal
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 282
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  • Book Info
    The Hidden History of Crime, Corruption, and States
    Book Description:

    Renowned historical sociologist Charles Tilly wrote many years ago that "banditry, piracy, gangland rivalry, policing, and war-making all belong on the same continuum." This volume pursues the idea by revealing how lawbreakers and lawmakers have related to one another on the shadowy terrains of power over wide stretches of time and space. Illicit activities and forces have been more important in state building and state maintenance than conventional histories have acknowledged. Covering vast chronological and global terrain, this book traces the contested and often overlapping boundaries between these practices in such very different polities as the pre-modern city-states of Europe, the modern nation-states of France and Japan, the imperial power of Britain in India and North America, Africa's and Southeast Asia's postcolonial states, and the emerging postmodern regional entity of the Mediterranean Sea. Indeed, the contemporary explosion of transnational crime raises the question of whether or not the relationship of illicit to licit practices may be mutating once more, leading to new political forms beyond the nation-state.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-039-9
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)
    Renate Bridenthal

    A specter is haunting history. The ghostly presence of economic crime as political power has been all but absent in history writing, but not in history itself. Like dark matter, its synergy has been palpable if not always visible. Yet in our time, more and more emerges from the shadows, exposed in newspapers and tried in courts, and compels us to consider the history of the illicit political economy and its effects in past and present.

    Here we venture to do so by specific examples. Three concepts—crime, corruption, and states—all hard to define and historically variable, are examined...

  4. Chapter 1 Dirty Politics or “Harmonie”? Defining Corruption in Early Modern Amsterdam and Hamburg
    (pp. 23-53)
    Mary Lindemann

    Corruption in early modern urban republics was complex, common, approved, and despised. It lay deeply embedded in the quotidian politicking of early modern governments, but was never simply accepted as “inevitable.” Moreover, despite the blurry boundaries that existed between licit and illicit behaviors, acceptable machinations and “crimes,” contemporaries remained well aware that some actions ran counter to the values and customs that sustained civic, political, and social life and rudely violated the political and moral codes these cities treasured, in rhetoric if not always in action. Thus, corruption could be the grease that lubricated the wheels of government or the...

  5. Chapter 2 A Crisis of Charter and Right: Piracy and Colonial Resistance in Seventeenth-Century Rhode Island
    (pp. 54-75)
    Douglas R. Burgess Jr.

    In the last decade of the seventeenth century, a crisis arose that threatened to rend the delicate thread of relations between England and her American colonies. Nearly a century before the American Revolution, it raised many of the same issues of sovereignty and right, and the players involved adopted startlingly similar language. Thus an English administrator described the colonies as nests of “vice and lawlessness,” and an American colonial governor warned his fellow colonists not to fall within the bonds of slavery. By 1700, an open breach had appeared between Crown and colonies, and some observers predicted incipient rebellion.


  6. Chapter 3 The First War on Drugs: Tobacco Trafficking, Criminality, and the Fiscal State in Eighteenth-Century France
    (pp. 76-97)
    Michael Kwass

    Three officers climb into their cab on a Friday morning in July to investigate a hot tip: an addict has just ratted out a neighborhood dealer who trades in a certain illicit substance. Navigating the labyrinthine streets of a sprawling metropolis, they reach a quiet, old-money neighborhood on the east side. At the suspect’s home, their probing questions prompt a tall, thin, middle-aged man named Jean-Claude Loviat to fly into a rage. “Get the hell out of here!” he shouts, grabbing one officer by the sleeve. When the commissioner warns that this brusque reaction is in itself a serious offense,...

  7. Chapter 4 Befitting Bedfellows: Yakuza and the State in Modern Japan
    (pp. 98-122)
    Eiko Maruko Siniawer

    On a fall afternoon in 1919, several dozen yakuza bosses—heads of Japanese mafia groups—climbed into cars at a Tokyo hotel. The caravan of smartly dressed men then proceeded to the Home Ministry for an appointment with top ministry officials, including the home minister himself. This meeting between Home Minister Tokonami Takejirō and Kansai-area bosses eventually led to the founding of an influential nationalist group of the interwar era: the Dai Nihon Kokusuikai (Greater Japan National Essence Association). What made this event notable was not just the seemingly remarkable cooperation between yakuza and a minister of state, but its...

  8. Chapter 5 Mobilizing Convict Bodies: Indian Convict Workers in Southeast Asia in the Early Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 123-148)
    Anand Yang

    In March 1821, a convict identified as “Cunden” in the colonial records, who had escaped from Penang more than a year earlier on 14 February 1820, was apprehended in Bangalore and brought before the Madras authorities. According to his “declaration” to the police, the Supreme Court at Madras had banished him overseas in 1818 as a punishment for “ setting fire to the hut of one Francais . . . and on his arrival at Prince of Wales Island [Penang] with his cousin Cavalee and one Coalee who were likewise transported” he worked for five days in the convict jail...

  9. Chapter 6 The Underside of Overseas Chinese Society in Southeast Asia
    (pp. 149-170)
    Carl A. Trocki

    This essay examines the rise and transformation of Chinese secret societies or Triads. I argue that the Chinese who left China in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries brought with them their own traditions that became tools of social organization. We might call these the “seeds” of their own state. I further argue that the colonial states and indigenous states, which were the ones recognized by most European and post-independence observers, were not the only contenders for political power at the time. In fact, the Chinese sociopolitical constructs were both contenders and were also occasionally collaborators with the European...

  10. Chapter 7 A Historical Perspective on State Engagement in Informal Trade on the Uganda-Congo Border
    (pp. 171-195)
    Kristof Titeca

    From a “heart of darkness”¹ to a “coming anarchy,”² a stereotype of sub-Saharan Africa remains that of a politically, economically, and socially chaotic continent, resistant to conventional regulations. Apart from being very essentialist, this view is also utterly unhelpful: a closer look informs us of a much more complex set of arrangements among local populations of Africa that take place in a very lively and densely negotiated informal economy.

    This paper aims at describing these through what Janet Roitman calls an “anthropology of economic regulation.”³ A large section of economic activities in sub-Saharan Africa avoids state control and is considered...

  11. Chapter 8 The Narcobourgeoisie and State Making in Colombia: More Coercion, Less Democratic Governance
    (pp. 196-215)
    Nazih Richani

    This chapter contrasts with Charles Tilly’s (1985) widely cited thesis in which he presented an analogy between state making and organized crime based on his analysis of European history.¹ While Tilly’s concern was to explore parallels between the use of violence in the growth of nation-states and in organized crime, this chapter focuses on the direct role of the narcobourgeoisie in the consolidation of the Colombian state itself during the 2000s.

    I have coined the termnarcobourgeoisieto differentiate this faction from the rest of its class, based on the following criteria: (1) the mode by which it extracts surplus...

  12. Chapter 9 Russia’s Gangster Capitalism: Portent for Contemporary States?
    (pp. 216-236)
    Patricia Rawlinson

    Most of the Western world watched the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the final demise of Soviet communism in 1991 with a sense of triumphalism and relief as the first and hitherto most historically powerful experiment in Marxist-style governance painfully imploded. Two major reasons given for this collapse were ubiquitous political corruption and the fusion of licit and illicit economic activity, both seen as inevitable outcomes of a system of political economy that afforded the state almost total control of the economy.

    Hence, by implication, the ideological antithesis to communism—the free market—would provide the natural...

  13. Chapter 10 Economic Crime and Neoliberal Modes of Government: The Example of the Mediterranean
    (pp. 237-262)
    Béatrice Hibou

    Everyone has heard about the problem of rubbish in Naples and Campania since, in December 2008, Silvio Berlusconi declared a state of emergency in the region and handed the problem over to the army. As is well known, the Camorra organizes the traffic of toxic wastes on open-air sites, organizes their transportation from the whole of Italy or indeed Europe, and manages the quarries and the dumping operations, while household waste in the region simply remains untreated. But can we be satisfied with this version of the story, which depicts a wicked mafia and a powerless state? Certainly not. For...

  14. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 263-266)
  15. Index
    (pp. 267-274)