What We Are Reading Today: Gangsters and Other Statesmen by Danilo Mandic

What We Are Reading Today: Gangsters and Other Statesmen by Danilo Mandic
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Updated 03 December 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Gangsters and Other Statesmen by Danilo Mandic

What We Are Reading Today: Gangsters and Other Statesmen by Danilo Mandic

Separatism has been on the rise across the world since the end of the Cold War, dividing countries through political strife, ethnic conflict, and civil war, and redrawing the political map. Gangsters and Other Statesmen examines the role transnational mafias play in the success and failure of separatist movements, challenging conventional wisdom about the interrelation of organized crime with peacebuilding, nationalism, and state making.

Danilo Mandic conducted fieldwork in the disputed territories of Kosovo and South Ossetia, talking to mobsters, separatists, and policymakers in war zones and along major smuggling routes. In this timely and provocative book, he demonstrates how globalized mafias shape the politics of borders in torn states, shedding critical light on an autonomous nonstate actor that has been largely sidelined by considerations of geopolitics, state-centered agency, and ethnonationalism. Blending extensive archival sleuthing and original ethnographic data with insights from sociology and other disciplines, Mandic argues that organized crime can be a fateful determinant of state capacity, separatist success, and ethnic conflict.

Putting mafias at the center of global processes of separatism and territorial consolidation, Gangsters and Other Statesmen raises vital questions and urges reconsideration of a host of separatist cases in West Africa, the Middle East, and East Europe.


What We Are Reading Today: Blood, Powder, and Residue by Beth A. Bechky

What We Are Reading Today: Blood, Powder, and Residue by Beth A. Bechky
Updated 22 January 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Blood, Powder, and Residue by Beth A. Bechky

What We Are Reading Today: Blood, Powder, and Residue by Beth A. Bechky

The findings of forensic science — from DNA profiles and chemical identifications of illegal drugs to comparisons of bullets, fingerprints, and shoeprints — are widely used in police investigations and courtroom proceedings. While we recognize the significance of this evidence for criminal justice, the actual work of forensic scientists is rarely examined and largely misunderstood. Blood, Powder, and Residue goes inside a metropolitan crime laboratory to shed light on the complex social forces that underlie the analysis of forensic evidence, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.
Drawing on 18 months of rigorous fieldwork in a crime lab of a major metro area, Beth Bechky tells the stories of the forensic scientists who struggle to deliver unbiased science while under intense pressure from adversarial lawyers, escalating standards of evidence, and critical public scrutiny. Bechky brings to life the daily challenges these scientists face, from the painstaking screening and testing of evidence to making communal decisions about writing up the lab report, all while worrying about attorneys asking them uninformed questions in court.