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When Protest Becomes Crime

When Protest Becomes Crime

Politics and Law in Liberal Democracies

Carolijn Terwindt

Series: Anthropology, Culture and Society

How our political and legal systems criminalise protesters

How does protest become criminalised? Applying an anthropological perspective to political and legal conflicts, Carolijn Terwindt urges us to critically question the underlying interests and logic of prosecuting protesters.

The book draws upon ethnographic research in Chile, Spain, and the United States to trace prosecutorial narratives in three episodes in liberal democracies. Terwindt examines the conflict between Chilean landowners and the indigenous Mapuche people, the Spanish state and the Basque independence movement, and the United States' criminalisation of 'eco-terrorists.' Exploring how patterns and mechanisms of prosecutorial narrative emerge through distinct political, social and democratic contexts, Terwindt shines a light on how prosecutorial narratives in each episode changed significantly over time.

Challenging the law and justice system and warning against relying on criminal law to deal with socio-political conflicts, Terwindt's observations have implications for a wide range of actors and constituencies, including social movement activists, scholars, and prosecutors.

Carolijn Terwindt is an author and activist. After receiving her JSD from Columbia Law School, she contributed articles to numerous journals and is the co-author with Chris van der Borgh of NGOs under Pressure in Partial Democracies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). She has worked as Senior Legal Advisor at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin.

'Protesters often end up in criminal courts. Even so, and despite sporadic efforts, social science has long neglected the criminalization of protest. In this welcome comparative study, Carolijn Terwindt skilfully examines the complex interplay between law and protest, making an important contribution to an overlooked topic' - Steven Barkan, author of 'Protesters on Trial: Criminal Justice in the Southern Civil Rights and Vietnam Antiwar Movements'

'Carolijn Terwindt reveals how courtroom narratives often attribute criminality to ideologies or associations going so far as to apply 'terrorism' sentencing enhancements to American environmental activists rather than to actions. This timely and meticulous analysis helps inform how the politics of law impact citizen efforts to draw attention to, and rectify, unjust practices by those in power' - Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director of the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute

'Drawing on three well-chosen and meticulously developed case studies, Carolijn Terwindt's lucid analysis demonstrates how, far from being neutral applications of the law, prosecutorial narratives become sites of contention that can exacerbate long standing socio political conflicts' - Patricia Richards, Meigs Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies, University of Georgia

Patt I: Law, Politics, and Legitimacy in Liberal Democracies
1. When Groups Take Justice Into Their Own Hands
2. The Prosecutorial Narrative and the Double Bind of Liberal Legalism
3. Mobilizing the Power of Victimhood
4. Challenging the State's Crime Definition
Part II: When Prosecutors Respond, Narratives in Action
5. Casting the Net Wider by Calling the Armed Group a Network
6. Narrating the Praise for ETA Prisoners as Humiliation of Victims
7. Vascillating Between Criminilisation and Negotiation
8. Responding to Allegations of Racism and Repression Against the Mapuche People
9. Shifting from Reactive to Proactive Prosecutions
10. Drawing a Boundary between Raising Awareness and Intimidation
Conclusion: The Prosecutor's Contested Claim to Criminal Justice
Published by Pluto Press in Dec 2019
Paperback ISBN: 9780745340043
Hardcover ISBN: 9780745340050
eBook ISBN: 9781786806086

304 pages

135mm x 215mm