Leanne Weber, Jarrett Blaustein, Kathryn Benier, Rebecca Wickes and Diana Johns, Place, Race and Politics: The Anatomy of a Law and Order Crisis

Published date01 April 2024
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1177/14624745231179144
AuthorLuiz Dal Santo
Date01 April 2024
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews
Leanne Weber, Jarrett Blaustein, Kathryn Benier, Rebecca Wickes and
Diana Johns, Place, Race and Politics: The Anatomy of a Law and Order
Crisis, Emerald: Bingley, 2021; 135 pp., ISBN: 978-1-80043-046-4
In Place, Race and Politics, Weber et al. examine and explain in local detail a specif‌ic
time and place(p. 28) in Australian penal politics: the demonisation of South Sudanese
Australians produced by conservative politicians, sensationalist media and the police in
Melbourne. The authors analyse how one incident that took place in the Moomba Festival
in 2016 triggered a law and order crisis which in turn occupied a large role in the 2018
Victorian state election in Australia. At that festival, a series of f‌ights involved up to 150
people from different backgrounds. It lasted a few hours, involved a few hundred people
at most and resulted in no serious injuries or signif‌icant property damage(p. 9).
However, this relatively minor disorderwas followed by a combination of social and
political processes that linked the episode to African gangsand framed South
Sudanese as violent, dangerous crimmigrants.
In this book, the authors address three main questions: How did South Sudanese
Australians in Melbourne come to be identif‌ied as a unique threat to community
safety, particularly following the 2016 Moomba Festival? What was the role played by
the media, state and federal politics, police and community perceptions of race in this
process? What were the impacts on affected communities of the law and order crisis
concerning African crimein terms of their own feelings of physical and emotional
security?(p. 21). To answer these questions, the book is structured in f‌ive main chapters:
the f‌irst sets the scene, providing the background of facts and events, and introducing
relevant theoretical debates; the second focuses on the politicisation of crime and
crime control; the third analyses the key role played by media in producing a sense of
crisis; the forth explores police responses to that crisis; the f‌ifth chapter examines how
this whole scenario affected African Australian communities.
In examining such matters, Stuart Hall and colleaguesPolicing the Crisis (1978) can
never be far from ones mind. While recognising the inf‌luence of this seminal work,
Weber et al. do not seek directly to apply (or revise) its approach; rather they engage
with this alongside a range of criminological literature, including work on penal popu-
lism, risk, securitization, and crimmigration.
The authors combine more traditional methods such as interviews, focus groups and
document analysis with analysis of discourses in social media, especially Twitter. Weber
Punishment & Society
2024, Vol. 26(2) 435451
© The Author(s) 2023
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DOI: 10.1177/14624745231179144
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