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NCJ Number: 222523 Find in a Library
Title: Co-Option or Criminalisation?: The State, Border Communities and Crime in Early Modern Europe
Journal: Global Crime  Volume:9  Issue:1-2  Dated:February-May 2008  Pages:35-51
Author(s): Kelly Hignett
Date Published: February 2008
Page Count: 17
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study compared cross-border criminal activities in three border communities of Europe's early modern period: the Cossacks of Southern Russia (15th to 18th centuries); the Uskoks of Dalmatia (16th to 17th centuries); and the Chods of Bohemia (12th to 17th centuries).
Abstract: The early modern period in Europe was dominated by expansionist empires often composed of loose collaborations of ethnic or national groupings, with only a limited level of state unity and centralized authority. Instead of being divided by clearly demarcated borders, semiautonomous border zones existed in geographic areas that acted as natural boundaries (rugged mountains, stretches of uninhabitable wilderness, and coastlines). In many instances, as illustrated by the three border zones profiled in this article, state authorities recognized the limits of their resources in controlling border lands and entered into a mutually beneficial arrangement with populations or communities established in the border zones. These communities agreed to act as border guards, defending the border territory from military invasion and protecting the frontier zone against criminal raids. In return, the state recognized the independent status of these communities, freeing them from being serfs to those wielding power in the state's interior. This made conditions in these frontier zones conducive to a high degree of criminality. The evidence presented in this article documents that such crime was sustained and structured, taking it to a level beyond petty theft or occasional banditry. Criminals who operated in the border regions worked as small, loosely organized groups engaged in sustained smuggling, banditry, piracy, armed robbery, and extortion under the threat of violence. These criminal groups formed an "underworld" that had customs, institutions, identities, and a culture that differed sharply from that of mainstream society in these border communities. 66 notes
Main Term(s): Border control; Criminology; Europe
Index Term(s): Economic influences; Organized crime; Organized crime causes; Social conditions
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