Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,741,889 articles and books

Biko Agozino. Counter-Colonial Criminology: A Critique of Imperialist Reason.

Biko Agozino. Counter-Colonial Criminology criminology, the study of crime, society's response to it, and its prevention, including examination of the environmental, hereditary, or psychological causes of crime, modes of criminal investigation and conviction, and the efficacy of punishment or correction (see : A Critique of Imperialist Reason. Foreword fore·word  
A preface or an introductory note, as for a book, especially by a person other than the author.


an introductory statement to a book

Noun 1.
 by Stephen Pfohl. London: Pluto P, 2003. 295 pp. $75.00.

Now too many people are being killed in the world, especially in Iraq and the Middle East. Who is responsible for all this killing? Has any person been condemned con·demn  
tr.v. con·demned, con·demn·ing, con·demns
1. To express strong disapproval of: condemned the needless waste of food.

 guilty of the crime? No. Any state or nation, then? No. There have been no rules for accusing nations of the crime. Why not? Many people died or were victimized by the attacks of rulers such as colonialists and slaveholders. But many of the rulers have been overlooked without punishment in ruler-biased social and political systems. Biko Agozino, author of Counter-Colonial Criminology: A Critique of Imperialist Reason, examines the judiciary, specifically criminological crim·i·nol·o·gy  
The scientific study of crime, criminals, criminal behavior, and corrections.

[Italian criminologia : Latin cr
, history of the world, and ultimately blames criminologists' silence for dealing an unfair human history. Agozino observes that not only have colonial imperialists utilized the judiciary system to rule the colonized Colonized
This occurs when a microorganism is found on or in a person without causing a disease.

Mentioned in: Isolation
 but that criminologists were silent about the imperial criminals so that criminologists indirectly helped the judiciary of the colonizers to rule the colonized.

To make the process understood, Agozino surveys the history of criminological knowledge and practices. Indeed, Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punishment: The Birth of Prison (1977) gives an important insight to Agozino's survey. Observing the history of criminological methodology concerned with the Enlightenment, labeling perspective, radical criminology, feminist perspective, and critical criminology Critical Criminology "... can be said to be a perspective where crime is defined in terms of the concept of oppression. Some groups in society - the working class (particularly, the poorer sections), women (especially, those who are poor, sole parents and socially isolated) and , Agozino criticizes Foucault for his undue concentration on individual punishment. Agozino insists on the importance of "theorizing and attempting to punish the state directly."

The reason that criminologists were silent and incapable of punishing state crimes, as Agozino observes, lies in their complete faith in "scientific" objectivity. This faith is (in) the core of Eurocentric knowledge, and modern social theories have derived from that knowledge. But, using the theory of Jean Baudrillard Jean Baudrillard (July 29, 1929 – March 6, 2007) (IPA pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ bo.dʀi.jaʀ][1]) was a French cultural theorist, philosopher, political commentator, and photographer. , Agozino questions the scientific objectivity on which criminologists have relied. If objectivity means not a commitment, as Agozino rightly puts it, it can be "irresponsible ir·re·spon·si·ble  
1. Marked by a lack of responsibility: irresponsible accusations.

2. Lacking a sense of responsibility; unreliable or untrustworthy.

 for the apolitical a·po·lit·i·cal  
1. Having no interest in or association with politics.

2. Having no political relevance or importance: claimed that the President's upcoming trip was purely apolitical.
 social scientist to try to understand the world oppression without a commitment to change it." So the point is that criminologists should be committed in their research to understanding the world marginalized by Eurocentric culture.

Another way to understand world oppression, Agozino suggests, is to read postcolonial literature Postcolonial literature (less often spelled "Post-colonial literature", sometimes called "New English Literature(s)") is literature concerned with the political and cultural independence of people formerly subjugated in colonial empires, and the literary expression of . Criminologists who regard scientific objectivity as important pay little attention to literary works. Agozino thinks highly of fictions, those texts that mirror social reality more directly than criminologists think. He takes up radical African literature African literature, literary works of the African continent. African literature consists of a body of work in different languages and various genres, ranging from oral literature to literature written in colonial languages (French, Portuguese, and English). , such as wa Thiongo's Devil on the Cross, Fatunde's Oga Na Tief Man, and Iyayi's The Contract, to "illustrate the potential for the decolonization decolonization

Process by which colonies become independent of the colonizing country. Decolonization was gradual and peaceful for some British colonies largely settled by expatriates but violent for others, where native rebellions were energized by nationalism.
 of criminology." Since modern literary theories like post-colonialism have also developed useful perspectives, criminology has learned a great deal from literature and literary theory.

For criminology to cultivate cul·ti·vate  
tr.v. cul·ti·vat·ed, cul·ti·vat·ing, cul·ti·vates
a. To improve and prepare (land), as by plowing or fertilizing, for raising crops; till.

 a decolonial perspective, it must change its research methodology. Agozino tests out the committed research methods from a marginalized race-class-gender perspective, and hopes those methods will be applied to sociology, anthropology, economics, political science, geography, and other fields of inquiry. The methods to solve colonial imperialist problems help to work out solutions to all social problems in the modern world. Agozino writes:
   Parents and guardians abuse children because of the imperialist
   power that they wield over them. Juveniles bully others and commit
   offences because of the will to colonize others and exercise power
   unjustly. Rapists are the dominant characterization of imperialists.
   A man rapes a woman just as Europa rapes Africana. One rapes an
   individual and the other rapes masses of people. What they have in
   common is not rape but imperialism. Pickpockets and insider dealers,
   kidnappers and war criminals, murderers and genocidists, drunk
   drivers and human rights violators, terrorists and armies of
   occupation, fraudsters and military coup plotters, environmental
   polluters and pornographers, drug dealers and hate criminals are all
   united in the spiral of imperialism.

Counter-Colonial Criminology is not just a book about criminology. Agozino cites in the book such names as J. Baldwin; H. K. Bhabha, S. Carmichael, J. Derrida, W. E. B. Du Bois Noun 1. W. E. B. Du Bois - United States civil rights leader and political activist who campaigned for equality for Black Americans (1868-1963)
Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois
, T. Eagleton, F. Fanon, J. Habermas, S. Hall, K. Marx, T. Morrison, F. Nietzsche, E. Said, G. C. Spivak, and A. Walker, as well as J. Baudrillard, T. Fatunde, M. Foucault, F. Iyayi, and N. wa Thiongo. These writers and philosophers make Counter-Colonial Criminology a map of modern cultural theory. This book also reminds one of Wright's Native Son, Dreiser's An American Tragedy, and other well-known American fictions that include trial scenes: Counter-Colonial Criminology can illuminate il·lu·mi·nate  
v. il·lu·mi·nat·ed, il·lu·mi·nat·ing, il·lu·mi·nates
1. To provide or brighten with light.

2. To decorate or hang with lights.

 new readings of these texts. In this way, Counter-Colonial Criminology is a book scholars in the field must not ignore.

We live now in a world where peace is challenged. As Stephen Pfohl says in the foreword, we need this kind of theory, one that "invite[s] a comparative transdisciplinary study of crime and crime control that is simultaneously committed to anti-imperialist scholarship, situated objectivity, activist legal reform, and radical reconstruction of everyday social institutions, to secure democracy, peace, and social justice."

Though Agozino says, "As you can see, I am no good at writing and I am still learning the craft. Maybe I have learned a little but I hope to keep learning so that some day I will write my big opus," Counter-Colonial Criminology is well written and easy to read. I wish I could write as well as Agozino writes. I also wish that this review reaches dubious readers because Counter-Colonial Criminology is an important and vital book.

Yoshinobu Nakajima

Shiraume Gakuin College, Japan
COPYRIGHT 2004 African American Review
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Nakajima, Yoshinobu
Publication:African American Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 22, 2004
Previous Article:W. Lawrence Hogue. The African American Male, Writing, and Difference: A Polycentric Approach to African American Literature, Criticism, and History.
Next Article:Athletic iconography in Spike Lee's early feature films.

Related Articles
Shakespeare's Universal Wolf: Studies in Early Modern Reification.
Decolonizing Methodologies: research and indigeneous peoples.
Magali Roy-Fequiere. Women, Creole Identity, and Intellectual Life in Early Twentieth-Century Puerto Rico.
The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640-1661.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters