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Workshop: Compliance-Industrial Complex - Fighting Crime and Doing Good?

Join us in Prague at the Scout Institute on the 25th of May 2023, 2pm to discuss the evolution of neoliberal governance and crime fighting strategies.

LUXCORE_event_Prague 25_May_2023
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Politics is dead. Meet compliance, the new Leviathan, the Frankenstein built to eradicate all evil. Enter the world of regulations, directives, standards, guidelines, and codes of conduct and ethics. Enter the world of experts who translate policies that aim to fight corruption, money laundering, financial crimes, human rights abuses, and more, into technobureaucratic compliance systems, integrity training and algorithmic monitoring and surveillance systems. Meet the multi-billion-dollar industry to which states have delegated the authority and power to collect intelligence, investigate, and manufacture suspicion—and to govern us, in the name of the undisputable good, in the name of the elimination of all the things we all can agree are evil. Excited by yet another regulation of yet another societal evil, by yet another ‘move in the right direction’, we rarely pause to think about what kind of world these anti-policies that target crimes, security threats, risks, and harms, are creating. This book, an essay in two parts, sets out to change this. Next time you read in the news of a new regulation being implemented, you will think of the markets that crop up in its wake, and about the powers that those who are meant to comply with it, paradoxically, acquire; about how the regulation may be translated into practice, or even abused. And you will think about the consequences this may have for justice, democracy, and freedom of speech. Next time, you will pause before asking for more of the same regulatory solutions.

Excerpt from the Preface to Compliance-Industrial Complex: The Operating System of a Pre-Crime Society by Tereza Østbø Kuldova (Palgrave, 2022)

What does the emergence of the compliance-industrial complex mean for how we are being governed, how we fight crime, and how we envision “the good”? Four leading academics share their views, followed by an expert panel discussion, and Q&A with the audience. Join us in the discussion!

14:00 – 14:10

Welcome by Tereza Østbø Kuldova

14:10 – 14:30

The Americanization of International Compliance

Michael Woodiwiss

University of the West of England, Bristol, UK

The United States has made efforts to control personal and collective behaviour since it was established in 1789. Tens of thousands of local, state, and federal laws now exist to prohibit certain goods and services as well as trade union and political activity. From the 1970s, unprecedented bureaucratic and diplomatic support ensured that U.S. criminal justice and law enforcement practices became commonplace throughout the world, beginning with bilateral agreements that required illegal drug producing nations to provide evidence for compliance with norms and rules set by the U.S. or international organizations. This paper examines the expansionist logic behind the implementation of three laws passed in 1970 – the Organized Crime Control Act, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Control Act, and the Bank Secrecy Act – and one in 1973, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It argues that this logic led to the establishment of the compliance-industrial complex. It tracks the progress of executive decisions, national laws and commitments made in international conventions that have succeeded in institutionalizing problems as never-ending projects that mainly benefit those public and private authorities and enterprises that dispense and receive funds.

Michael Woodiwiss has been a Senior Lecturer at UWE since 1996 after lecturing in the Department of American Studies, at the University of Wales, Swansea. In 2019 he was awarded a Distinguished Scholar Award by the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology. Dr Woodiwiss is one of the world's leading interdisciplinary historians in the conceptualisation of organized crime and its control. His interdisciplinary research interests involve the study of organized crime, corporate crime, corruption, and the attempts to control these activities – with a focus on international norm making. Dr Woodiwiss has collaborated widely with a range of experts from different disciplines, based in higher education institutions across Europe, Canada, and the United States. His research partner is Dr Mary Alice Young (Law, UWE), and together they explore the exportation of Western organized crime control policies to small island developing states. Widely regarded as the best in the field, Dr Woodiwiss's historical works concerning the study of organized crime and its control, have been published in the British Journal of Criminology, Global Crime, Trends in Organized Crime, and The International Criminal Justice Review. Dr Woodiwiss's books receive excellent reviews and have been widely published in Britain and North America. They are also available other languages including Italian and Portuguese.

14:30 – 14:50

(Un)wanted Twins: Compliance-Industrial Complex and Right-Wing Populism as the Products of the Regulation of Serious Crime in Post-socialist Czechia

Petr Kupka

University of West Bohemia

This presentation seeks to reconstruct the evolution of the compliance-industrial complex in post-socialist Czechia. It also aims to illustrate how the unexpected by-product, the right-wing populist narrative of corrupt post-1989 history, has been created during this evolution. The emergence of the compliance culture can be traced back and finds its origins in the then novel ‘anti-organized crime discourse’ in Czechia after 1989, related to make the organization reform from Soviet to democratic policing while preserving some of its intelligence functions. The concept of corruption was also part of the discourse. The path towards the progressive evolution of the compliance culture continues with the progressive autonomization of the anti-corruption discourse in late 2000s and early 2010s. This autonomization process was related to international pressure, proliferation of corruption scandals in media, and the pluralization of anti-corruption elites and governance bodies, public and private, both nationally and internationally. Some of these elites soon hybridized with business players, while creating key infrastructure for developing the compliance industry and commodifying anti-corruption and regulatory compliance at large. Some of these elites, however, abused the anti-corruption discourse for political purposes including the strive for an illiberal political turn, inspired by Victor Orbán’s Hungary. This was enabled by the media construction of political corruption scandals offering an interpretation of Czech governance as a form of post-1989 criminal conspiracy. This was achieved, for example, by using metaphors of organized crime to denote key figures and their social ties, or by speculating about the existence of mysterious documents hiding the ‘truth’ about the criminal nature of Czech political decision-making.

Petr Kupka is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Anthropology, University of West Bohemia. He is affiliated also with the Department of Social Work, University of Ostrava. His work explores and links post-socialism, informality, organized crime, crime control, and urban marginality. He published on these issues in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, European Journal of Criminology, Crime, Media, Culture, or Trends in Organized Crime. Currently, he conducts research on the roots of cultures of compliance and defiance in Czechia (as a member of the ‘LUXCORE’ research project), and on how and why crime occurs in the autobiographical narratives of offenders in Czechia (as a member of the ‘In Their Own Words’ research project).

14:50 – 15:10

The Compliance-Industrial Complex, Global Crime Governance and Philanthrocapitalism

Tereza Østbø Kuldova

OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway

Over the past decade we have witnessed a spectacular rise of what I have termed the “compliance-industrial complex”, stimulated by the convergence of three neoliberal trends which have so far often been thought separately: surveillance capitalism, regulatory capitalism, and philanthrocapitalism. Expanding upon the arguments in my previous work, this talk will briefly outline the profound implications of the convergence of the processes of 1) commodification of regulation, 2) the growth of markets for regulatory and policy intermediaries and technologies with profound influence on the shape of (global) crime governance, the 3) proliferation of anti-policies and anti-regulations aligned with regulatory commodification for which these actors lobby and advocate and 4) techniques of (purportedly) combatting crime and “doing good” that increasingly rely on the financial and private sector, and are underpinned by the logic of investment and management, which 5) stimulate the privatization and pluralization of policing and intelligence far beyond state agencies, while relying on new technologies of surveillance, measurement, and quantification. Following this brief outline, the talk will zoom in on the convergence of these forms of “crime fighting”, driven by anti-policies and anti-regulations (anti-money laundering, anti-fraud, anti-terrorism, anti-trafficking and so on), and the ideological movement of “philanthro-policymaking” in its various iterations – from “business for good” initiatives to impact investing. Understanding this convergence will allow us to perceive the “business for good” and the new regimes of global crime governance relying on compliance, surveillance and privatized crime-fighting as merely two sides of the same coin, pointing us to a deeper understanding of elite epistemic power and of the profound capture of the regulatory and policy discourse by the interests of capital.

Tereza Østbø Kuldova is a Research Professor based at the Work Research Institute, Oslo Metropolitan University. She is the author of, among others, Compliance-Industrial Complex: The Operating System of a Pre-Crime Society (Palgrave, 2022), How Outlaws Win Friends and Influence People (Palgrave, 2019), Luxury Indian Fashion: A Social Critique (Bloomsbury, 2016), editor of Crime, Harm and Consumerism (Routledge, 2020), Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs and Street Gangs: Scheming Legality, Resisting Criminalization (Palgrave, 2018), Urban Utopias: Excess and Expulsion in Neoliberal South Asia (Palgrave, 2017). She has written extensively on topics ranging from fashion, design, aesthetics, branding, intellectual property rights, philanthropy, India, to outlaw motorcycle clubs, subcultures, organized crime, corruption, and anti-corruption. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Extreme Anthropology as well as of the Algorithmic Governance Research Network.

15:10 – 15:30

The Compliance Industrial-Complex in Africa: Making Sense of the Surge in Anti-fraud Measures

Jörg Wiegratz

School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, UK

The COVID-19 pandemic has stifled many sectors of the global economy, but it has boosted the business of fraudsters who seem to become ever more sophisticated in their methods. At the same time, anti-fraud measures (AFMs) are becoming more sophisticated too, with technology playing a big part, and more increasingly artificial intelligence and machine learning. In recent years, many initiatives have been launched in the name of fighting and reducing various forms of fraud and other crimes in the economy and thus cleaning up capitalism. This dynamic continued the trend of the 2010s of a rise and acceptability of AFMs within neoliberal policy orthodoxy. This trend is also fuelled by AFM consultants, experts and specialist firms which promise security and authenticity of product/service in the context of a world market characterised by endemic fraud. But have these measures actually been effective in containing fraud? This talk uses data from research into the characteristics of AFMs in 12 countries in Western, Eastern and Southern Africa to shed light on this key component of the large compliance-industrial complex: AFMs. It situates AFMs in the history of neoliberal reform and transformation on the continent, the political economy of aid and capitalist development, as well as state and class formation. It analyses drivers, actors, tools, and controversies of these AFMs. It argues that these measures link matters of corporate competition, branding, consumer protection, industrial policy, capitalism, and national politics, and are by now a significant component of economic policy and governance of various African states. This ‘regulatory capitalism’ brings together in an intriguing way a set of illustrious actors: from government, donors, (I)NGOs (including consumer protection advocacy groups), anti-fraud companies and experts, to a broad range of policy, governance, and development intermediaries. AFMs are highly loaded politically, economically, and morally. There is a high degree of compatibility of AFMs with agendas of digital economy, data collection, surveillance capitalism, secure capitalism and ‘build back better’. Notably, about one decade after the surge in AFMs their effectiveness remains under-researched. AFMs are here to stay, however.

Jörg Wiegratz is a Lecturer in Political Economy of Global Development at the University of Leeds (UK), School of Politics and International Studies. Previously, he also taught at the Universities of Bath and Sheffield. Between 2004-2007, he worked as a researcher and consultant in Uganda (for the UN Industrial Development Organization, the Government of Uganda's Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Industry and the German Agency for Technical Cooperation) and has been a Resource Person at Makerere University and a Visiting Scholar at the Economic Policy Research Centre, Kampala. To-date, his research has explored aspects of neoliberalism especially neoliberal moral economy and moral restructuring, market society, economic fraud, global value chains, industrial development, and human resource development, predominantly with an empirical focus on Uganda. In recent years, he has been particularly interested in studying processes related to the emergence and consolidation of neoliberal market societies in the various parts of the world, especially (but not only) in Africa.

15:30 – 15:45 Coffee Break

15:45 – 16:15 Panel Discussion


Jardar Østbø, Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, Norway

Professor and Head of Programme for Russian Security and Defence Policy at the Institute for Defence Studies, Norwegian Defence University College. His articles on Russian politics and society have appeared in journals such as Post-Soviet Affairs, Journal of Extreme Anthropology, Cultural Politics, Demokratizatsiya: Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, and Social Movement Studies. Østbø is the author of The New Third Rome: Readings of a Russian Nationalist Myth (2016). He is the leader of the international project RUSECOPOL (2019-2023), which studies the Russian political elite. Østbø is a core researcher of the LUXCORE project.

Thomas Raymen, Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK

Professor of Criminology at Northumbria University, UK. He is the author of The Enigma of Social Harm: The Problem of Liberalism (Routledge, 2022); Parkour, Deviance and Leisure in the Late-Capitalist City (Emerald, 2018); and editor of Deviant Leisure: Criminological Perspectives on Leisure and Harm as well as numerous other peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. His research interests span the fields of criminology, anthropology, leisure studies, psychoanalysis, and continental and moral philosophy.

Audrey Millet, University of Oslo, Norway

Marie-Sklodowska Curie Researcher at the University of Oslo. The Made in SweatShops project investigates how technological advancement and industrialization of the clothing industry has impacted working conditions, women’s employment, and career prospects in the clothing workshops of Paris, Shanghai and Prato. Millet investigates how the implementation of an industrial model in the global clothing industry has led to a de-skilling of the workforce, focusing mainly on the female workforce. She has published Fabriquer le désir. Une histoire de la mode de l’Antiquité à nos jours (2020, Belin), Le livre noir de la mode. Creation, production, manipulation (2021, Les Pérégrines), Les dessous du maillot de bain. Une autre histoire du corps (2022, Les Pérégrines). Her latest book was published in March 2023: Woke Washing: capitalisme, consumérisme, opportunisme.

Davide Casciano, UCL London, UK

Research Fellow at UCL London since April 2023. He worked as a Researcher within the LUXCORE project from 2021 to 2023, hosted by the University of Bologna. At the University of Bologna, he was also an Adjunct Professor for a module on the anthropology of crime and criminalisation in 2021 and 2022. His research interests, mainly in Africa (Nigeria, South Africa) and Italy, focus on new religious movements (charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity), social protest movements, crime and criminalisation, corruption, security (public and private), and lately on ICTs and digital anthropology.

16:15 – 16:30 Q&A with audience


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