A year ago, I was asked by a former chief of police now active in policy and research to write a white paper mapping out what a “police anthropologist” might look like, replete with arguments on how anthropologists could contribute both to the study of policing and to police departments. I spent many hours reflecting on my own work with police agencies and imagining how I could translate anthropological aims and methods into work with police agencies. The result was a thoughtful exercise in outlining how anthropologists might be integrated into the world of policing, in which I argued:
Let’s face it: Americans are living in an age of extreme surveillance. The government is listening to our phone calls, capable of controlling our computer cameras remotely and (perhaps) reading our Facebook messages.
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!