Introduction: Beyond Transnational Crime

By Pickering, Sharon; McCulloch, Jude | Social Justice, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview

Introduction: Beyond Transnational Crime


Pickering, Sharon, McCulloch, Jude, Social Justice


DURING THE LAST TWO DECADES, NEOLIBERAL GLOBALIZATION HAS RESULTED IN I significant growth in transnational crimes such as global terrorism, trafficking in antiquities, people and drugs, immigrant smuggling, and money laundering. Beyond being pressing social problems, they are the consequences of a significant extension and reconfiguration of state power on various fronts, resulting from the progressive intersection of the internal and external coercive functions of the political state in ways that have implicated crime control in foreign policy and merged law enforcement with issues of national security. The dramatic political-economic, social, and cultural transformations shaping the contemporary global environment call for a new approach to transnational crime, one that transcends the verities of orthodox criminology by examining the role of criminal organizations and individuals, and that of political states and their economic partners in the generation of transnational crime. The goal of this volume is to offer such a new approach.

Although globalization has rendered the borders between nation-states less significant in terms of capital and financial flows, the border has simultaneously become an important symbol of state power, fortified against unregulated flows of goods, money, and people. Countermeasures against transnational crime have increasingly treated the boundaries between military and police action, domestic and international law, and criminal justice and international relations as ever more indistinct. In addition, the development and deployment of preemptive countermeasures and the application of retrospective legislation increasingly undermine the distinction between past and present as states "colonize the future" and "rewrite the past." Border politics, border reconstruction, geographically and temporally mobile borders, and a trend toward "a-national" sites of enforcement are the hallmarks of state responses to transnational crime and the conditions leading to transnational crime. Globalization's challenge to geographic and temporal borders has been matched and reflected by challenges to the boundaries that historically marked the limits of sovereignty, citizenship, and nation-state. In important and as yet relatively unexamined ways, these shifts are evident in the nature of transnational crime, and are animated through state responses to it. These issues are addressed here.

The articles published here arise from the 2006 meeting of the Prato Group, comprised of criminologists from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Group and these articles seek to lay a foundation for a transnational or global criminology that begins with critical understandings of the state, borders, and crime. We hope this edition will contribute to creating a new space for the development of useful theories, empirical investigations, and the formulation of constructive social policy regarding the phenomena labeled transnational crime and those frameworks, laws, policies, and actions that are produced in response.

The ways in which transnational crime and its countermeasures confront the traditional borders of crime control, national security, politics, and international relations challenge the disciplinary boundaries of orthodox criminology, which has traditionally focused on matters internal to nation-states.

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