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Policing the war on drugs and the transformation of urban space in Manila

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Abstract

This article explores policing and urban ordering in the Philippine war on drugs. With an empirical point of departure in ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Bagong Silang, a poor urban area on the outskirts of Metro Manila, the article highlights the perspective of the state police in an area that has been heavily exposed to the drug war and can be considered as one of its hot spots. It is examined how inspirations from counter-insurgency strategies are implemented in policing the war on drugs and discussed how this form of policing is negotiated and what implications it produces on the ground. In doing so, the article asks, ‘how have counter-insurgency policing strategies transformed urban space and the possibility of life in the poorer sections of Manila’? Drawing on a conceptual framework on borders, policing and the production of fear, the article argues that there exists an intimate connection between the employed policing strategies and the transformation of urban space with the potential of fundamentally reconfiguring urban sociality in areas such as Bagong Silang.

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This article discusses how ever-increasing video-surveillance is changing the nature of urban space. The article evaluates whether surveillance can be seen as a means of making space safer and ‘more available’. The main focus is on surveillance in publicly accessible spaces, such as shopping malls, city streets and places for public transport. The article explains how space under surveillance is formed, and how it is related to power structures and human emotions. Space is conceptualized from various viewpoints. Three concepts of space are postulated: space as a container, power-space and emotional space. The purpose is not to construct a meta-theory of space; rather, the concepts are used as ‘tools’ for exploring the issue of surveillance. It is argued that video-surveillance changes the ways in which power is exercised, modifies emotional experiences in urban space and affects the ways in which ‘reality’ is conceptualized and understood. Surveillance contributes to the production of urban space.
Book
When “people power” toppled the dictator Marcos, the Philippines was considered a shining example of the restoration of democracy. Since 1986, however, the Philippines has endured continuing political and social unrest and encountered tremendous obstacles to the consolidation and deepening of democracy. Scholars have called post-Marcos Philippines an “elite democracy,” a “cacique democracy,” or a “patrimonial oligarchic state.” In this volume, Nathan Gilbert Quimpo disputes such characterizations of Philippine politics and puts forward an alternative interpretation—contested democracy. He argues that the deepening of democracy in the country involves the transformation of an elite-dominated formal democracy into a participatory and egalitarian one. He focuses on emergent, democratically oriented, leftist parties and groups that seek to transform the formal democracy of the Philippines into a more substantial one and shows the difficulties they have encountered in fighting patronage politics. The complexity of the process to deepen democracy in the Philippines becomes evident from Quimpo’s exploration of competing notions of democracy, contending versions of the “civil society argument,” and contending perspectives in governance.
Article
Drawing on in-depth research in the Philippines, this book reveals how local forms of political and economic monopoly may thrive under conditions of democracy and capitalist development. ---------- John T. Sidel is Lecturer in South East Asia Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. ---------- This book focuses on local bossism, a common political phenomenon where local power brokers achieve monopolistic control over an area’s coercive and economic resources. Examples of bossism include Old Corruption in eighteenth-century England, urban political machines in the United States, caciques in Latin America, the Mafia in Southern Italy, and today’s gangster politicians in such countries as India, Russia, and Thailand. For many years, the entrenchment of numerous provincial warlords and political clans has made the Philippines a striking case of local bossism. Yet writings on Filipino political culture and patron-client relations have ignored the role of coercion in shaping electoral competition and social relations. Portrayals of a “weak state� captured by a landed oligarchy have similarly neglected the enduring institutional legacies of American colonial rule and the importance of state resources for the accumulation of wealth and power in the Philippines. The author, by contrast, argues that the roots of bossism in the Philippines lie in the inauguration of formal democratic institutions at a relatively early stage of capitalist development. Poverty and insecurity leave many voters vulnerable to clientelist, coercive, and financial pressure, and the state’s central role in capital accumulation provides the basis for local bosses’ economic empires and political machines. These contradictions have encouraged bossism in the Philippines, as well as in other countries. The book elaborates these arguments through case studies of bosses in two Philippine provinces, Cavite and Cebu. The contrast between single-generation gangster politicians in Cavite and enduring commercial dynasties in Cebu reveals variation in the forms of bossism that reflect variations in the local political economies of the two provinces. Comparisons between bosses over successive historical periods highlight the gradual transformation of bossism through capitalist development. In sum, Capital, Coercion, and Crime provides a comparative historical analysis of bossism, drawing conclusions of great interest not only to scholars of Southeast Asia but to students of comparative politics as well. ---------- “This book is certainly a contribution to the literature on Philippine politics, comparative politics, and state-society relations. It builds on, while going significantly beyond, what other scholars have done and lays out a reasoned argument that future scholarship will have to engage about how public offices are won and lost and for whose benefit.�—The Journal of Asian Studies “...Sidel has written a superb and pioneering analysis that defines the future course for studies of local elites—not only in the Philippines but elsewhere as well.�—Paul D. Hutchcroft, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Article
"UMI Number: 3114584." Thesis (Ph.D.)--Cornell University, Jan., 2004. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 710-761). Photocopy.
Article
The inner city of Johannesburg is about as far away as one can get from the popular image of the African village. Though one of Africa’s most urbanized settings, it is also seen as a place of ruins—of ruined urbanization, the ruining of Africa by urbanization. But in these ruins, something else besides decay might be happening. This essay explores the possibility that these ruins not only mask but also constitute a highly urbanized social infrastructure. This infrastructure is capable of facilitating the intersection of socialities so that expanded spaces of economic and cultural operation become available to residents of limited means. This essay is framed around the notion of people as infrastructure, which emphasizes economic collaboration among residents seemingly marginalized from and immiserated by urban life. Infrastructure is commonly understood in physical terms, as reticulated systems of highways, pipes, wires, or cables. These modes of provisioning and articulation are viewed as making the city productive, reproducing it, and positioning its residents, territories, and resources in specific ensembles where the energies of individuals can be most efficiently deployed and accounted for.
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