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H20-ERC-European Research Council

Anthropologies of Extortion

Awarded: NOK 0.51 mill.


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Project Period:

2021 - 2025

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Extortion had come to occupy a quintessential position in the global imaginary of mafia-type-criminal organizations. Yet it is also increasingly present beyond clandestine criminal networks and is becoming a normalised profitable source of livelihood and governance and a key visible social relation in many parts of the world. Systematic research on and explanatory models for the apparent expansion and rountinisation of extortion in everyday life (including cyber-extortion) are currently lacking. Timely, the project sets up extortion as an object of anthropological inquiry and charts the first comprehensive cross-cultural account of extortion in social life across South and East Asia, the Americas, Africa and Europe. The proposed program of work consists of 5 main components: 1) Primary research on ‘offers that cannot be refused' across different domains of life in and across 22 settings; 2) Analytical and theoretical development in the study of power, consent and organized crime; 3) Methodological innovation by conducting a simultaneous cross-national ethnographic research and adding a South-to-South comparative angle in an area dominated by single case studies and a focus on the Global North; 4) Capability enhancement by forging an international network of scholars in the emerging field of the anthropology of crime and supporting the careers of the project's 5 Post-docs; 5) Policy relevant research in the fields of violence and consent, organized crime, informal economy and development. The study capitalises on previous research and skills of the PI in the cross-cultural study of bossism, politics and kinship and 'mafias' in the global South. Research will be embedded in anthropology but informed by empirical and analytical questions relevant to criminology, political science, economics and development studies.

Funding scheme:

H20-ERC-European Research Council

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Thematic Areas and Topics

No thematic area or topic related to the project