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Law and Disorder in the Postcolony


Law and Disorder in the Postcolony Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Are postcolonies haunted more by criminal violence than other nation-states? The usual answer is yes. In Law and Disorder in the Postcolony, Jean and John Comaroff and a group of respected theorists show that the question is misplaced: that the predicament of postcolonies arises from their place in a world order dominated by new modes of governance, new sorts of empires, new species of wealth—an order that tends to criminalize poverty and race, entraps the “south” in relations of corruption, and displaces politics into the realms of the market, criminal economies, and the courts.

        As these essays make plain, however, there is another side to postcoloniality: while  many postcolonies show signs of endemic disorder, they also fetishize the law, its ways and its means. How are we to explain the coincidence of disorder with a fixation on legalities? Law and Disorder in the Postcolony addresses this question, entering into critical dialogue with such theorists as Jean-François Bayart ,Walter Benjamin, and Giorgio Agamben. In the process, it also demonstrates how postcolonies have become crucial sites for the production of contemporary theory, not least because they are harbingers of a global future under construction.

About the Author

Jean Comaroff is the Bernard E. and Ellen C. Sunny Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology and director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory at the University of Chicago. John L. Comaroff is the Harold W. Swift Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago and a senior research fellow at the American Bar Foundation. Both are honorary professors at the University of Cape Town. They are coauthors of the multivolume Of Revelation and Revolution also published by the University of Chicago Press.


Table of Contents


1. Law and Disorder in the the Postcolony: An Introduction

John L. Comaroff and Jean Comaroff

2. The Mute and the Unspeakable: Political Subjectivity, Violent Crime, and "the Sexual Thing" in a South African Mining Community

Rosalind C. Morris

3. "I Came to Sabotage your Reasoning!": Violence and Resignifications of Justice in Brazil

Teresa P. R. Caldeira

4. Death Squads and Democracy in Northeast Brazil

Nancy Scheper-Hughes

5. Some Notes on Disorder in the Indonesian Postcolony

Patricia Spyer

6. Witchcraft and the Limits of the Law: Cameroon and South Africa

Peter Geschiere

7. The Ethics of Illegality in the Chad Basin

Janet Roitman

8. Criminal Obsessions, after Foucault: Postcoloniality, Policing, and the Metaphysics of Disorder

Jean Comaroff and John L. Comaroff

9. On Politics as a Form of Expenditure

Achille Mbembe



Product Details

Comaroff, Jean
University of Chicago Press
Comaroff, Jean; Comaroff, John L.
Comaroff, John L.
Comaroff, John L.
Anthropology - Cultural
World - Post-Colonial Studies
Developing countries Social conditions.
anthropology;cultural anthropology
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
6 halftones
9.00 x 6.00 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Crime » Criminology
History and Social Science » World History » General

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