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Centrality of Empire in the Study of State Crime and Violence (From State Crime in the Global Age, P 31-44, 2010, William J. Chambliss, Raymond Michalowski, and Ronald C. Kramer, eds. - See NCJ-230909)

NCJ Number
Peter Iadicola
Date Published
14 pages
After defining "empire" in relation to "state crime," this chapter identifies the various types of violent crime that stem from the policies and actions of empires.
The chapter is based in the author's view that the concept of empire is central to the study of state crime and violence, including the study of violence as a whole. The chapter embraces Maier's (2005) definition of "empire" as "a major actor in the international system based on the subordination of diverse national elites who, whether under compulsion or from shared convictions, accept the values of those who govern the dominant center or metropole." The idea that empire may be consensual is an important part of Maier's definition. Maier views the American empire as in part an empire by invitation. Those who respond to the invitation are typically those who benefit economically, politically, and culturally from the empire's conquests. This chapter focuses on what it views as the violent crimes of the U.S. empire as it portrays itself as the liberating, civilizing, democratizing force for the world. In portraying America's violent actions as an empire, sections of the chapter are entitled "wars of aggression;" "genocide and ethnic cleansing;" "assassinations;" and "torture, kidnapping, and imprisonment." The chapter also discusses how empires, with attention to the United States, control the definition of crime, how the law is to be applied, who will be charged, and who will prosecute the case. In its concluding argument, the chapter argues for a criminology of empire in which the empire itself is central to understanding the nature of crime in the "imperial center and its periphery."


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