Call for Papers
Trends in Organized Crime
Organized Crime and the Uber-Militarization of the World:
global trends in law enforcement and in security practices
Thiago Rodrigues (Fluminense National University, Brazil)
Érika Rodríguez-Pinzón (Complutense University of Madrid, Spain)
Jonathan D. Rosen (New Jersey City University, USA)
Since the 1970s, the widespread of globalization has intensified several levels of interconnectivity and economic interdependence among different societies and markets all around the world. It is broadly discussed by specialized literature that the intensification of financial mobility has been followed by the increasing transit of people, products, and ideas. It is also largely known how the ‘legal face’ of global economy is intrinsically related to its ‘illegal face’. The same avenues opened by legal economic activities have been used by their ‘shadow’ twins, including a large set of illicit goods destined to fulfill an insatiable demand both in the North and in the Global South.
In such a context, the range and sophistication of illegal enterprises have grown wider and more complex. Despite controversies around the most accurate features to categorize such groups, the term ‘organized crime’ has been largely accepted in political, juridical and academic discourses. Despite its imprecision, the concept of ‘organized crime groups’ (OCGs) has propelled processes of securitization in the field of public safety across all latitudes.
Since the 1990s, the dissolution of the ‘communist threat’ has commuted into the identification of ‘new’ – or not so new – forms of ‘organized’ menaces to public goods. Hence the notions of public safety, food security and energy security. Among these threats, we find ‘organized crime’. As an effect of securitization practices, public safety policies coined to combat organized crime have progressively emulated tactics, equipment and doctrines from the Armed Forces.
Previously an anathema among Western democracies, the militarization of domestic security has been trivialized as a way to control specific social and ethnic groups within the poorest and marginalized members of increasingly unequal societies. Meanwhile, in the Global South, the regular intervention of the military in internal affairs and the militarized nature of several of their police corps have entered a novel phase in which masses of people excluded from the gains of the neoliberal economy are fought as disruptive contingent of individuals contaminating the social body from the inside.
This process has been categorized as ‘militarization’. Nevertheless, contemporary critical scholars such as Graham (2010) and Neocleous (2015) have shed light to the fact that ‘militarization’ is not only the process of undifferentiation between police and the military. More than that, they claim that by ‘militarization’ we should understand the dissemination of ‘security practices’ throughout a social fabric which reproduces values, discipline techniques, surveillance devices, weaponry, and aesthetics originally from the military realm.
This broader understanding of ‘militarization’ can also be applied to OCGs. These groups emulate not only state practices of government in the areas under their control, but also reproduce tactics of territory occupation, combat techniques, forms of hierarchy, and the employment of vehicles and weaponry supposedly exclusive to the military. Sometimes there is the displacement of former military from local armed forces or gendarmerie corporations to the illegal market, like the Zetas in Mexico, the Serbian mafia or the Brazilian militias. Sometimes there are complex modalities of engagement in illegal activities of guerrillas or paramilitary groups, like in Colombia or in West Africa. The militarization of OCGs can follow, as well, the lines of terrorist groups or prison gangs, or the activities of traditional European mafias or urban gangs in the US.
From a critical standpoint, the militarization of the combat against organized crime and the militarization of organized crime itself are two faces of a single phenomenon. It exposes the violent nature of capitalist relations in a world of impressive levels of income concentration and dissemination of violence as a means to achieve political goals, to conquer and to keep legal and illegal parcels of markets, and as a strategy to ‘pacify’ unequal societies.
In order to contribute to both deepening and broadening the availability of critical reflections on such problems, we propose this Special Issue hoping to gather a collection of papers able to shed light on different aspects of a multifaceted object. Considering the complexity of this subject, we expect to receive proposals from disciplines such as Political Science, Political Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology, International Relations, Semiology and others. We strongly encourage the presentation of research findings, collective pieces, comparative analyses and analytical perspectives that focus on gender, race, minorities and class.
We claim the world is facing a process of ‘uber-militarization’ which is represented by the intensification of militarized troops in public security affairs, the dissemination of a military ethos among civilians and the military modulation of organized crime. This process is bringing together Global North and Global South societies in unexpected ways, and we are eager to find out what the community of researchers on organized crime think about it.
Research Articles should be between 8,000 and 10,000 words and must follow the guidelines available at:
Deadline for submission is January 20, 2022 (GMT 00:00) at: