‘Paintings for a Crime’: Composed Cognitive Maps for Measuring Crime and Situation

Date01 October 2019
Publication Date01 October 2019
AuthorDaniel Castro Aniyar
‘Paintings for a Crime’:
Composed Cognitive
Maps for Measuring
Crime and Situation
Daniel Castro Aniyar1
The Ecuadorian State implemented policies to improve the quality and reliability
of statistical material. Among these materials, composed cognitive maps were
innovated and applied. These materials consist of drawings made by witnesses
and victims of perceived hostile and dangerous territories that were analyzed
through ethnographic and Grounded Theory Method.
This process allowed for a deeper understanding of hotspots, associated crimi-
nal situations and large victimization patterns throughout the national territory,
than traditional ones. The composed cognitive maps and resulting spatial dynamics of
crime helped to overcome the gap between the micro and macro level problem
in criminology and gave important insights to design crime policies. We briefly
describe the experience, compare the method to the traditional ones and give
an example of its diagnostic potential compared to regular information managed
to day by the police.
Hotspots, situation, victimization, composed cognitive maps, quantitative-
qualitative method, ethnography
The David System, or DAID (Spanish acronym for Department of Analysis and
Information of Crime, attached to Ecuadorian National Police), has been attempt-
ing to build an integrated understanding of the criminal phenomenon in Ecuador.
Journal of Victimology
and Victim Justice
2(2) 141–163, 2019
2019 National Law
University Delhi
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2516606919841941
1 Center of Political and Social Studies of Latin America (CEPSAL), Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro
(ULEAM), Manta, Ecuador.
Corresponding author:
Daniel Castro-Aniyar, Cendepeace, Facultad de Derecho, Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro (ULEAM), Manta,
Manabi 130802, Ecuador.
E-mails: danielcastroaniyar@gmail.com, daniel.castro@uleam.edu.ec
142 Journal of Victimology and Victim Justice 2(2)
Such an integrated understanding partly comes from the institutional awareness
that source reliability problems exist.
The most important crimes, like robberies and violations, mostly come from
administrative reports to police and to the Prosecutors General’s Office. But in
general, people do not use reports because of several possible reasons, such as
poor understanding of the reporting process, delays in police responses, difficul-
ties to arrive at the report centres and so on.2 On the other hand, large victimiza-
tion surveys in Ecuador are not widely available and do not offer sufficient
situational clues on specific territories.3 Also, in criminology, it has been discussed
that victimization surveys and reports are not always able to obtain an integral
picture of the criminal issue in specific contexts.4
One of the solutions that the David System provided to these problems was
composed cognitive maps (CCM). CCM derive from a simple idea: if patterns
have a strong environmental and situational context, traditional surveys are inad-
equate to read information that, in reality, is often related to culture, spatial per-
ceptions and common phenomenal constructions.5 Consequently, a deeper tool,
better oriented to complexity, would produce better prevention policies.
The cultural diversity understanding is one of the main goals in anthropology
and sociology of culture. Diversity is so deeply considered that the very idea of
culture, indistinctively the theoretical frame, is often related to basic and defining
concepts related to inner and interactive or relational complexity, such as thickness,6
contemporary worlds,7 enunciative position, otherness8 or hybridity.9 In this sense,
what we propose, to introduce the idea of situation through complexity-oriented
2 D. Castro aniyar & J. C. JáCome, The VDS Trilemma: Crime measurement based on the Criminal
situation, in Criminology anD Criminal law Journal (Thomson Reuters. La Ley, 2017a) (la st visited
16 September 2019).
3 Supra note 2; D. Castro aniyar & J. C. JaCome, PolitiCal Problems of measuring Crime in light
of the aPProaCh by territory, oPPortunity anD situation. Nova Criminis Journal. No. 13 (Central
University of Chile, 2017b), available at http://revistacriminologia.cl/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/13-
03-analisis-tematico-03.pdf\; l. Dammert (CoorD.) et al. Crime anD inseCurity: inDiCators for the
ameriCas (IDB, 2010), available at https://www.vanderbilt.edu/lapop/news/FLACSO_on_crime.pdf
4 J. Van Kesteren, J. Van DiJK & P. mayhew, The International Crime Victims Surveys: A Retrospective,
20(1) int. reV. ViCtimol 49–69 (2014); C. J. sulliVan & J. m. mC gloin, Looking back to Move
Forward: Some Thoughts on Measuring Crime and Delinquency over the past 50 Years, 51(4) J. res.
Crime Delinq 445–466 (2014); L. Dammert (CoorD.) et al. Crime anD inseCurity: inDiCators for the
ameriCas (Flacso Chile/BID, 2010).
5 D. b. bobrow, Social and Cultural Factors: Constraining and Enabling, in the oxforD hanDbooK
in PubliC PoliCy 572–586 (m. moran, m. rein & r. e. gooDin, eds., Oxford University Press, 2008);
P. gilmartin, CognitiVe maPs anD the fear of Crime (National Criminal Justice References Services.
Office of Justice Programs, 2000), available at https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.
aspx?ID=193488 (last visited 11 October 2019); g. lösChPer, Crime and Social Control as Fields of
Qualitative Research in the Social Sciences, 1(1) fsq Article 9 (Freie Universitat Berlin, 2000), avail-
able at http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1119 (last visited 11 October 2019).
6 C. geertz, interPretation of Cultures (Basic Books, 1973).
7 m. augé, Pour une anthroPologie Des monDes ContemPorains [towarDs an aanthroPology of
ContemPorary worlDs] (Champs Essaies, 2010).
8 e. amoDio, forms of alterity. ConstruCtion anD Difussion of the image of the ameriCan inDian
in euroPe During the first Century of the Conquest of ameriCa. inCognito lanD ColleCtion (Edit.
Abya Yala, 1993).
9 n. garCía CanClini, hybriD Cultures. strategies to enter anD exit moDernity (Paidós, 2001).

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