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  • Author: Natalia Mendoza, Rachel St. John
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: The border as a unit of analysis becomes a key player when addressing issues of transnational scale. Throughout history, the shape and meaning of borders have evolved as dynamic configurations responding to a wide range of political, economic, and social affairs. In an effort to understand transnational organized crime (TOC) from a geographical lens, historian Rachel St. John and anthropologist Natalia Mendoza reflect on the changing condition of the U.S.-Mexico border and its spillover effect on peripheral communities. St. John has analyzed the history of the borderlands in her book Line in the Sand, where she explains how the capability of the border to attract people to it creates “a form of negotiated sovereignty” subject to “practical difficulties, transnational forces, local communities and the actions of their counterparts across the line.”[i] Mendoza's ethnographical approach to her field work in the village of Altar in Sonora, Mexico, produced a collection of local narratives on how a community around the border has developed creative ways, both legal and extralegal, to confront the boundary line at a time when governments extend and reinforce the space of state surveillance. The following is a conversation between these two scholars regarding organized crime at the U.S.-Mexico border that can provide a better understanding of a wider conditionality of the boundary line.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Mexico
  • Author: Madeline K.B. Ross
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: In the early twentieth century, the U.S. government was struggling to find a way to combat Al Capone and powerful city gangs. Institutional corruption allowed the gangs to expand into complex organized crime systems that took decades to dismantle. Jay Albanese argues that transnational crime is currently at a similar nascent stage, poised to lay the groundwork for an entrenched international criminal infrastructure that could prove costly and challenging to eradicate.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Kortava
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: Over the last two decades, the global shadow economy has flourished: according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), illegal trade—in guns, drugs, timber, elephant ivory, human beings, and virtually anything for the right price—generates an annual turnover of some $870 billion, the equivalent of nearly 7 percent of the world's legitimate exports of merchandise. A recent UNODC publication reports that “states and international organizations have largely failed to anticipate the evolution of transnational organized crime.” The entire industry, it would seem, grew up hidden in plain sight, as if garbed in camouflage from its infancy. What countermeasures have been taken—mostly in the form of conventional law enforcement—“have done little” to stem its growth or minimize its impact. Few scholars are less surprised by these grim facts than Dr. Robert Mandel, professor of international affairs at Lewis Clark College and author of Dark Logic: Transnational Criminal Tactics and Global Security. Mandel has been mulling over transnational organized crime for well over a decade, and his latest meditation on the subject can be read as a sequel to an earlier work: Deadly Transfers and The Global Playground: Transnational Security Threats in a Disorderly World (1999).
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Padma Desai
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Abstract: The financial turmoil originating from the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis hit Russia by early September 2008, prompting the Russian government and the Central Bank of Russia to undertake a set of speedy and concerted measures to soften the impact of the crisis. These initial measures supported the value of the ruble as ruble holders, domestic and foreign, switched to dollars. They also provided hard currency to major Russian banks and Russian big business (the so-called oligarchs) which had borrowed heavily from foreign banks for their expanding operations from 2000 to 2007.
  • Topic: Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States