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A record of state crime and resistance

A record of state crime and resistance

Communities resist even while enduring the most horrific of state crimes, says Victoria University criminologist Elizabeth Stanley, and a new book documenting their bold actions will ensure history is taught, and recorded, as it happened.

The book examines state committed or sanctioned actions including genocide, rape during war, the treatment of refugees and the use of counter-terrorism powers.

Dr Stanley, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Social and Cultural Studies, co-edited State Crime and Resistance with Jude McCulloch, Professor of Criminology at Monash University in Australia. The book includes contributions from scholars in New Zealand, Australia, Asia, the US and the UK.

Dr Stanley says in the past criminologists have focused on mapping and detailing state crimes, whereas this book considers how such crimes can be resisted, prevented or stopped.

“Even in the bleakest of circumstances, where harm and violence is perpetrated by the state examples of resistance can be found.”

One chapter details how Jews resisted their oppressors during the Holocaust by sending messages and smuggling photographs from concentration camps to the wider world.

Another focuses on post 9/11 counter terrorism practices in the UK, where a disproportionate number of Muslims have been stopped, searched and arrested by police.

“That has really eroded trust between Muslim communities and the authorities,” says Dr Stanley, “to the point where many people are reticent to engage with the police and are upset at the stigmatisation of their communities.”

There is also a chapter which examines Australian refugee detention centres and the mistreatment of asylum seekers.

Dr Stanley says the book presents a mixed picture for the future.

“It does offer a hopeful vision of how actions can lead to change, but it also shows how states pre-empt resistance through denial, justification and denigration of their opponents.”

State Crime and Resistance was published by Routledge, UK.


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