From May 4-7, 2014, a workshop was held at the Institute for Advanced Study on the topic of “Ethnography and Policing.” Below is a short summary of the workshop’s premise and scope, as described by Didier Fassin, who organized the gathering.
In the past half century, there has been a considerable amount of scientific literature in criminology, sociology, political science and legal studies on urban policing, that is, on the practice of law enforcement mostly in the poor neighborhoods of large cities. Part of this work is grounded on some form of participant observation, which complements other techniques such as interviews or questionnaires, and nourishes the analytical and theoretical arguments developed by the authors. However, this ethnography rarely appears as such. It is usually not presented, save occasionally in the form of short vignettes, or discussed, from the perspective of the specific contribution of this method. Significantly, until recently, anthropologists themselves seemed to ignore policing practices.
In the past decade, however, this situation has begun to change, as scholars increasingly and explicitly include ethnographic elements in their study of police work. The objective of the workshop was to bring together social scientists who have conducted research on urban policing in different parts of the world, using ethnography, in order to collectively reflect on the conditions, potentialities and limits of this method, the problems of interpretation and the ethical issues it raises, and the way local findings can be related to larger historical context and sociological issues. The general idea was to take ethnography seriously rather than as a mere background rendered invisible in the process of writing. Considering the importance of public debates on policing in contemporary societies, particularly on the way law is enforced in poor neighborhoods, which raises questions about racial discrimination, display of violence, and reproduction of an unequal social order, the exchange of ethnographic experiences has been rich. The outcome of this workshop will be a collective volume.
Although there’s been quite a bit of rumbling over the AAA’s “open access” policies over the last several years, one positive development IMHO has been to move the association’s newsletter, Anthropology News, to an online and OA format.
And now readers of this blog can benefit. The most recent issue features several articles on the Anthropology of Law in its “In Focus” section, including two articles on the anthropology of policing: one from Anthropoliteia’s own Jeff Martin, entitled “How the Law Matters to the Taiwanese Police” and another by Jennie Simpson, a recent PhD from American University, “Building the Anthropology of Policing” (the latter featuring a short–and unexpected cameo from yours truly).
Personally, I’m super-psyched that the anthropology of policing is beginning to carve out a space in the larger world of anthropology. Not only am I currently brainstorming how to incorporate these blog posts into my course on Policing in Society, but I’m secretly formulating a response to Jeff arguing that his use of my beloved Max Weber is all wrong!
Since people seemed to find it helpful last year, I’ve decided to try and make A@AAA an annual feature. So here you go, my annual round-up of police, crime and security events at this year’s American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings. As always, if you know about a session or paper that I’ve missed, let me know in the comments section and I’ll add it to the list.
Wednesday, Nov. 17th
- STEFAN LE COURANT — Names Written on the Wall: Understanding Graffiti in Alien Detention Places in France as part of the panel MIGRATORY SPACES OF INCLUSION AND EXCLUSION, Studio 3, Second Floor, Marriott
- DANIEL MAHER — Trash Talkin’ and Resurrectin’ Lawmen in Hell on the Border: African American Identity, Performance, and Representation in Fort Smith, Arkansas as part of the panel COUNTER-MEMORIES, Salon H, Third Floor, Marriott
- MEGAN CALLAGHAN (Bard College) — “Bricking the Peelers”: Children’s Challenges to the Police in Northern Ireland as part of the panel CIRCULATIONS OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY, Southdown, Fourth Floor, Sheraton
- JONATHAN PADWE (Yale University) — Remaking Ethnic Attachments by Fleeing the Police in Cambodia: Rethinking the Place of Jarai in Cambodia After the Refugees Have Moved On, as part of the panel ETHNIC LANDSCAPES AND LANDED ETHNICITIES: ATTACHMENTS, STOPPAGES AND CIRCULATIONS. (Salon H, Third Floor, Marriott)
Thursday, Nov. 18th
- BETWEEN GOVERNMENTALITY AND STATE COERCION: GOVERNING BODIES IN SPACE, Organized by YASSER MUNIF
- ILGIN ERDEM — Dis-Ordering the Urban Space: The Case of May Day Protests in Turkey
- YASSER MUNIF — Disciplinary Spaces and “Lawless Zones” in a French Suburb
- SWATI BIRLA — Revisiting Public and Private Space- Prostitution Regulation in Gujarat
- ERIKA MARQUEZ — Social Movements in the Security State: Territorial Struggles in Valle Del Cauca, Colombia
- PANAYIOTIS MANOLAKOS (Sanhati) — Primary Accumulation qua Developmental Terrorism: Meditations on Political Strategy
- INTERROGATING POLICE, Organized by ERIKA ROBB LARKINS (University of Wisconsin-Madison) & R BRIAN FERGUSON (Rutgers the State University of New Jersey-Newark) , Balcony M, Fourth Floor, Marriott
- R BRIAN FERGUSON (Rutgers the State University of New Jersey-Newark) — Killing Bill: Politics, Policing and Street Violence in the Gangs of New York Era
- AVRAM BORNSTEIN (John Jay College, City University of New York) — Policing, Race and “Color-Blindness” in the US
- ALDO CIVICO (Columbia University) — Policing as Cleansing: Gangs, Militias, and Death Squads in Medellin.
- ERIKA ROBB LARKINS (University of Wisconsin-Madison) — Men in Black and the Golden Gun: Maintaining Disorder in Rio’s Hyper Favela
- RIC CURTIS & TRAVIS WENDEL — Call the Policed: The Evolution of Police Tactics as Seen Through the Experience of Drug Distributors and Drug Users in New York City
- DISCUSSANT: NEIL WHITEHEAD (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
- COPS & CANONS: WHAT IS THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF POLICING AND WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?, Organized by KEVIN KARPIAK (Eastern Michigan University) & WILLIAM GARRIOTT (James Madison University), La Galerie 1, Second Floor, Marriott
- MICHELLE STEWART (University of California-Davis) — “Don’t Dare Me”: A Consideration of Interdisciplinarity and Reflexivity in Policing Practice
- JEFFREY MARTIN (University of Hong Kong) — The Culture of Policing
- BEATRICE JAUREGUI (University of Cambridge) — Police Postings as Cultural Politics: Forces and Relations of State Authority in Northern India
- MEG STALCUP (University of California-Berkeley) — The Battle of Algiers on Main Street: Anthropology and the Policing of Terrorism
- WILLIAM GARRIOTT (James Madison University) — Ethical Failure or Ethical Imperative?: “Lumping It” as Method in the Anthropology of Police
- JULIA HORNBERGER — From Free Health Care to the Care of the Criminal Self as part of the panel SHIFTING SOVEREIGNTIES: CIRCUITS AND COUNTER-CIRCUITS OF KNOWLEDGE,La Galerie 4, Second Floor, Marriott
- KARINA BIONDI (Universidad Federal de São Carlos) — The Political Model of a Collective of Prisoners in São Paulo, Brazil as part of the panel NEW DIRECTIONS IN POLITICAL THEORY, Studio 3, Second Floor, Marriott
Friday, Nov. 19th
- JENNIFER AENGST (University of California-Davis) — The Movements of Adolescents: Youth Policing and Secret Dating in Ladakh, India as part of the panel SEXUALITIES IN ‘OUT-OF-THE-WAY’ PLACES: TRACING INTIMACIES ACROSS BOUNDARIES, Salon 817 & 821, Eighth Floor, Sheraton
- BRIAN LANDE (University of California-Berkeley) & KEVIN KARPIAK (Eastern Michigan University) — ‘Taking the Field': Thinking ‘Police’ Through the Social Sciences, Thinking ‘Society’ Through Policingas part of the panel BUSINESS ENCOUNTERS: FIELDWORK CONVERSATIONSOrganized by TIMOTHY DE WAAL MALEFYT (BBDO & Parsons, The New School for Design), BRIAN MOERAN (Copenhagen Business School), Balcony N, Fourth Floor, Marriott
- BJORN BERTELSEN — Chamboco, Lynchings, Death Squads and Prisons. Social Ontologies of Violence, Sovereignty and Conflict in Chimoio, Mozambique as part of the panel CONFLICTS ON THE MOVE,Balcony L, Fourth Floor, Marriott
- ROBERT A RUBINSTEIN (Maxwell School, Syracuse University) — Back to the Future?: Peacekeeping and Imperial Policingas part of the panel CONFLICTS ON THE MOVE,Balcony L, Fourth Floor, Marriott
- JENNIFER GOETT (Michigan State University) — Afro-Descendants and Counternarcotics Policing in Multicultural Nicaragua as part of the panel AFRO-LATINO POLITICS: REASSESSING THE MULTICULTURAL TURN TWO DECADES AFTER REFORM, (Studio 1, Second Floor, Marriott)
Saturday, Nov. 20th
- KEVIN KARPIAK (Eastern Michigan University) — Use and Abuse of the Police in French Theory: Or, Uncanny Encounters With Foucault, Bourdieu and Many Others Among the Police Nationale as part of the panelFOUCAULT ET AL. FROM PARIS TO CALIFORNIA AND BACK AGAIN: THE CREOLISATION OF ‘FRENCH THEORY’organized by STEPHANIE LLOYD (McGill University), BAPTISTE MOUTAUD (INSERM), & LIVIA VELPRY (Cesames, University of Paris-Descartes), Grand Couteau, Fifth Floor, Sheraton
- THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF MASS INCARCERATION: GLOBAL ETHNOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVES ON PRISONS AND POLICING organized byANDREA MORRELL (City University of New York-Graduate Center), & STEPHANIE CAMPOS,Oak Alley, Fourth Floor, Sheraton
- KAREN WILLIAMS (City University of New York-Graduate Center) — From Social Control to “Caring”?: Imagining a ‘Kinder Gentler’ Prison System Under Neoliberalism
- STEPHANIE CAMPOS — Las Burriers: Incarceration & Gendered Work in Illicit Economies
- HOLLIS MOORE (University of Toronto) — The Permeable Prison and the Production of (Un)relatedness: Household Responses to Imprisonment in Northeast Brazil
- ANDREA MORRELL (City University of New York-Graduate Center) — “A Label Tightly Sewn on the Community”: Race, Justice, and the Making of a Prison Town
- LILIAN NYAMPONG — Micro Interactional Processes State/Human Rights Interventions: Ethnography of Everyday Experiences in Correctional Institutions
- DISCUSSANT: PEM BUCK (Elizabethtown Community and Technical College)
Sunday, Nov. 21st
- CIRCULATING TECHNIQUES OF GOVERNANCE: CRIME, INSECURITY, AND DELINQUENCY IN THE AMERICAS organized by CONNIE MCGUIRE (University of California-Irvine), Salon H, Third Floor, Marriott
- TIM GODDARD (University of California-Irvine) — Managing ‘Risky’ Populations: Crime Control Through Public-Private Partnerships
- CONNIE MCGUIRE (University of California-Irvine) — Transnationalizing Gangs in the Americas: From Local Problems to Regional Solutions
- VIRGINIA RAYMOND (Texas After Violence Project) — Lethal, Legal and Premeditated: U.S. State Homicide and Its Reverberations Throughout the Americas
- NINA SIULC (University of Massachusetts-Amherst) — U.S. Crimmigration Policies, Transnational Insecurities, and ? “Retraining”? Deportees
- WENDY REYES & ANGELA SANGUINETTI — Addressing the Limits of Orthodox Language
- MARIANA MORA — The Effects of Mexican State Security Policies: New Expressions of State Violence, Human Rights and the Production of Subjectivities in the State of Guerrero
- DISCUSSANT: ELANA ZILBERG (University of California-San Diego)
- SANTIAGO GUERRA (University of Texas-Austin) — Los Mafiosos Y La Chota: Drug Trafficking and Policing in the South Texas-Mexico Borderlands
as part of the panel CIRCULATING MILITARISM, CIRCULATING SUBJECTS,Salon 829, Eighth Floor, Sheraton
- TOM HALL (Cardiff University) & ROBIN SMITH — Local Motion, Local Knowledge: Research ‘On the Move’ With Urban Patrols as part of the panel OBSERVERS ON THE MOVE: REVISITING TRADITIONS AND EXPLORING INNOVATIONS IN PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION, Bayside B, Fourth Floor, Sheraton