The hybrid state: Crime and citizenship in urban Jamaica

by Rivke Jaffe

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In inner-city neighborhoods in Kingston, Jamaica, criminal “dons” have taken on a range of governmental functions. While such criminal actors have sometimes been imagined as heading “parallel states,” I argue that they are part of a hybrid state, an emergent political formation in which multiple governmental actors—in this case, criminal organizations, politicians, police, and bureaucrats—are entangled in a relationship of collusion and divestment, sharing control over urban spaces and populations. Extending recent scholarship on variegated sovereignty and neoliberal shifts in governance, I consider the implications of this diversification of governmental actors for the ways that citizenship is experienced and enacted. The hybrid state both produces and relies on distinct political subjectivities. It is accompanied by a reconfigured, hybrid citizenship, in which multiple practices and narratives related to rule and belonging, to rights and responsibilities, are negotiated by a range of actors.