"'The politics of law and order': The case of a marginalised council estate" by Insa Koch

Past Event

27 June 2012, 12:30pm - 2:30pm


This Pot Luck seminar is hosted by the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities

Summary: This presentation looks at why some of the residents of Britain’s most marginalised council estates come to support a politics of law and order. In much current writing in criminology and the sociology of crime, authors have interpreted the popular support for this punitive turn as a pathological outcome of ‘late modernity’. From this perspective, calls for law and order become a dangerous and often misguided expression of a wider crisis of identity that has been unleashed by an increasingly fragmented and isolated society. In this presentation, my objective is to provide an alternative account as to the nature of popular punitivism. Drawing upon sixteen months of ethnographic fieldwork carried out on the council estate of Blackbird Leys, I argue that among the residents of the estate, far from constituting a disguised crisis of identity, popular calls for law and order express a particular understanding of the law – one which sees its central role as lying not in the enforcement of liberal rights but in the defeat of personal enemies. This understanding of the law, in turn, reflects a cultural logic associated with local strategies of survival and self-defence which governs situations of conflict in an environment of sustained insecurity and threat. In developing my argument, I will offer an anthropological study into questions of urban exclusion, marginality and governance, more generally.

Speaker: Insa Koch, DPhil Student in Social and Cultural Anthropology, ISCA, University of Oxford

Venue: 64 Banbury Road, Oxford

The meeting will start with a one hour seminar followed by a one hour potluck lunch. To contribute to the potluck, if you can, just bring along a dish representing your country/culture, or something easy you would like to share with the rest of the group. We will provide drinks.

For further information please contact Ebru Soytemel: ebru.soytemel@insis.ox.ac.uk