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This conference explores the popular culture through which the authority of criminal organizations is produced and sustained. Drawing from cases across the world, participants discuss how popular music, film, dance, street art and other forms of expressive culture are central to extra-legal forms of rule and belonging.

Event details of The Popular Culture of Illegality
Start date 24 October 2018
End date 25 October 2018
Time 18:30

From Brazilian traffickers to Jamaican “dons”, from the Sicilian mafia to South African gangsters, criminal organizations and leaders draw on the sensory power of popular culture to normalize their activities. The power they may wield lies not only in their access to weapons and money – criminal authority also has imaginative, aesthetic underpinnings. This conference examines the emotional and ethical work that specific texts, sounds, performative practices, and visual images do in such contexts.


Speakers include Sasha Newell (Laboratoire d’anthropologie des mondes contemporains, Université Libre de Bruxelles), Jason Pine (Purchase College, State University of New York), Lucia Michelutti (Anthropology, University College London), 
Jean Comaroff (Department of African and African American Studies, Harvard University), Peter & Jane Schneider (Fordham University/City University New York). A full program will be announced shortly.

Stay updated on the conference through the event page on Facebook.

The Popular Culture of Illegality Research Project

The Popular Culture of Illegality: Criminal Authority and the Politics of Aesthetics in Latin America and the Caribbean studies the popular culture of illegality: the music, visual culture and material culture through which the socio-political authority of criminal gangs is produced. Through which aesthetic practices are people mobilized to accept and support criminal authority? How is the popular culture of illegality central to forms of governmentality? How do visuality, aurality and materiality work to constitute and legitimate authority? 

This project is led by Prof. Rivke Jaffe (Centre for Urban Studies, UvA) and Dr. Martijn Oosterbaan (Cultural Anthropology, UU)