Banana Justice: Field Notes on Philippine Crime and Custom

Banana Justice: Field Notes on Philippine Crime and Custom

Banana Justice: Field Notes on Philippine Crime and Custom

Banana Justice: Field Notes on Philippine Crime and Custom

Synopsis

Based on nearly twenty years of research and theoretical analysis of selected rural and urban communities in the Philippines, this book describes and critiques a variety of justice related issues, including terrorism, vigilante activity, corruption, and juvenile delinquency. These themes provide distinctive insight into Filipino crime and custom, beginning with assessment of how local village level citizenry tend to reject government intrusion into traditional time-honored styles of informal social control. Other sections include historically persistent peacemaking scenarios and how Muslim and Christian citizens in the southern Philippines have tried to resolve disputes and crimes with only relative success. Although most of the narrative results from diaries and field notes were completed while the author lived in northwest Mindanao, the southernmost island of the Philippines, comparisons are occasionally made to other regions of the Philippines and regions abroad.

Excerpt

The title of this book deserves some clarification. The use of the words banana and justice is somewhat metaphorical; however, it is not entirely illogical in the Republic of the Philippines. As will be discussed in detail later, the Filipino decidedly avoids formal mechanisms of social control and will often seek secluded areas in order to work out interpersonal disputes, hopefully in a peaceful manner. In the hinterland, if not under or near a banana tree, it is common for banana leaves to be used as a mat on which locals will sit and perhaps eat or drink. Important to this discussion of social control, about 70 percent of all people in the Philippines live in villages outside of the major urban areas. What the reader will find in this book is information based upon diaries kept by the author while conducting seven separate research excursions to the Philippines between 1980 and 1997. As the book chapters reflect, the research covered various topics but always emphasized aspects of crime and custom. The concepts of crime and custom overlap to some extent because what is criminal in the Philippines may also be customary. Also, what is customary and legal today may be inappropriate or criminal tomorrow. Issues of crime and custom are equally slippery throughout the world, but in the Philippines they appear particularly enticing as this small book will demonstrate. Some of the information in this book appeared elsewhere in a different form. That is, in some cases earlier versions of articles were first published in an assortment of professional journals and, as such, were meant for specialists in criminology or anthropology.

Scientific reporting is sometimes Spartan; in some instances terseness, comes at the expense of clarity. With the insertion of additional examples and case histories, the present format provides greater depth than the sometimes curt style of the earlier professional reports. A book format also allows findings . . .

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