Monthly Archives: August 2011

Cartographic Mexico

Craib, Raymond. 2004. Cartographic Mexico: A History of State Fixations and Fugitive Landscapes. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. I remember my social studies teacher in elementary school using the peel of an orange to show us why most world maps … Continue reading

Posted in Boundaries, Land, Law, Maps, Michel Foucault, Nation/Nationalism, Place, Post-Colonial, Power, Science & Tech., Spatiality, Territory, The State | Comments Off on Cartographic Mexico

Global Outlaws

Nordstrom, Carolyn. 2007. Global Outlaws: Crime, Money, and Power in the Contemporary World. Berkeley: University of California Press. Carolyn Nordstrom’s book is an ethnography about the extra-legal, as she calls them, flows and networks, which she sees as constituting a … Continue reading

Posted in Drugs, Elites, Forests, Frontiers, Illegality, Law, Networks, Power, Scale, Sovereignty, Spatiality, The Sea, The State | Comments Off on Global Outlaws

The Sicilian Mafia

Gambetta, Diego. 1996. The Sicilian Mafia: The Business of Private Protection. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Diego Gambetta’s hugely important book conceptualizes the Sicilian mafia as not an organization but as an industry that’s in the business of producing, promoting, and … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, City, Drugs, Elites, Illegality, Law, Political Economy, Scale, The State, Violence | Comments Off on The Sicilian Mafia


Brittain-Catlin, William. 2005. Offshore: The Dark Side of the Global Economy. New York: Picador. This impressive book by William Brittain-Catlin tells the story of the vast “offshore” world that forms an integral—if unacknowledged—part in the globe’s financial architecture. The offshore … Continue reading

Posted in Elites, Illegality, Law, Networks, Sovereignty, Territory, The State | 2 Comments

Fernando Coronil, R.I.P.

I just found out Fernando Coronil, a Venezuelan scholar who I really admire, died this week. The Social Science Research Council’s Craig Calhoun wrote a post about Coronil’s untimely death. He was a leading decolonial thinker and a very geographically … Continue reading

Posted in Everyday Life | 1 Comment


Bhattacharyya, Gargi. 2005. Traffick: The Illicit Movement of People and Things. London: Pluto Books. Gargi Bhattacharyya argues that the wave of global politics marked by the creation of Bretton Woods financial institutions provided ripe conditions for the explosion of illicit … Continue reading

Posted in Drugs, Illegality, Law, Networks, Political Economy, The State | Comments Off on Traffick

The Global Criminal Economy

Castells, Manuel. 2000. “The Perverse Connection: The Global Criminal Economy.” In End of Millennium, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. III. Oxford: Blackwell. [Chapter 3] Manuel Castells sums up the scope, scale, and importance of the global criminal … Continue reading

Posted in Drugs, Elites, Illegality, Law, Networks, Political Economy, Scale, The State | 1 Comment

State Formation as Organized Crime

Tilly, Charles. 1985. “State Formation as Organized Crime.” In Evans, Peter, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol eds. Bringing the State Back In Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  Charles Tilly draws an analogy between organized crime, with its practices of “protection,” and … Continue reading

Posted in Bandits, Illegality, Law, Pirates, Territory | 1 Comment

Violent Entrepreneurs

Volkov, Vadim. 2002. Violent Entrepreneurs: The Use of Force in the Making of Russian Capitalism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Vadim Volkov’s extremely impressive book details how an entire class of “violent entrepreneurs” became the handmaidens of the Soviet transition … Continue reading

Posted in Bandits, Critique, Dialectics, Elites, Everyday Life, Illegality, Law, Networks, Power, Sovereignty, The State, Violence | Comments Off on Violent Entrepreneurs

The Mafia of a Sicilian Village

Blok, Anton. 1974. The Mafia of a Sicilian Village, 1860-1960: A Study of Violent Peasant Entrepreneurs. Cambridge: Waveland Press. Anton Blok’s Mafia of a Sicilian Village is one of my favorite books. It shows how “the mafia” in Sicily emerged … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Bandits, Elites, Illegality, Insurgency/Counterinsurgency, Land, Law, Networks, Power, Scale, The State, Violence | 1 Comment