Studying smuggling [chapter]

Max Gallien, Florian Weigand
2021 The Routledge Handbook of Smuggling  
Smuggling is an economic activity that is politically defined and socially embedded. 1 In its functional essence, smuggling is typically trade, anchored in the demand for certain products and the costs of their movement. At the same time, it is segmented from legal trade through laws, which are, along with their enforcement, deeply political, tied into processes of stateformation and demarcation, economic regulation and prohibition, and geopolitics and conflict. Unlike most trade, smuggling in
more » ... ts perception and study is also intimately tied to the figure of the 'smuggler' and the particular social space of the borderland in which they are imagined to operate -as a risk-taker, a broker, a hustler, a worker, a profiteer, a villain, or a local hero. Consequently, the study of smuggling always has attracted a range of disciplines: anthropology; geography; economics; sociology; history; law; and political science. Even so, it rarely has been genuinely multi-disciplinary. Discussions are frequently siloed along regional, disciplinary, and methodological lines that are connected insufficiently with each other. Frequently, smugglers appear not just on the geographic margins of states but on the margins of arguments that are primarily not about them and are imagined and framed to fit the respective assumptions, theories, and ideologies. 2 This handbook is intended to work against these tendencies and toward what might be called 'smuggling studies.' Its aim is to bring diverse disciplinary perspectives on smuggling together in one place and in conversation with each other, to highlight themes that emerge across different areas: the complex relationships among smugglers, states, armed groups, and globalised markets; the role of and impact on borderland communities; the sometimes counterintuitive effects of conflict and 'anti-smuggling policies;' and the drivers of heterogeneous dynamics across goods and routes. It also seeks to reflect on the methods and politics that have shaped the study of smuggling and to outline pathways for future research and collaboration. First and foremost, it seeks to present the value of understanding smuggling by placing smuggling at the centre of a field of study, not casting it at the margins, merely as a policy implication or a bogeyman. The remainder of this introduction is split into two broader sections. The first summarises key observations in the study of smuggling, highlighting central themes around conceptions, routes, actors and regulation, while also tracing some of the key developments and fault-lines in this field of study itself. The second section then provides an overview of the purpose, perspective, and content of this volume.
doi:10.4324/9781003043645-1 fatcat:ms6octt3lrduvijhubytlbit2m