In the Journals

Michelle Stewart on the erasure of labour in the production of police experts

Our own Michelle Stewart has a fascinating article online over at M/C Journal using an ethnographic eye to attend to the labour (since it’s an Australian journal it has that extra ‘u’) that gets hidden in the production of police technologies.  Or, as she concludes:

This article investigated a map as an entry point to understand the ways in which labour can be erased in augmented objects and, concurrently, how authority figures or experts instead emerge. My goal was to discuss the labour necessary to make one augmented map while also describing the process by which the labour necessary for the map was concurrently erased. Central to this article are the ways in which labour is erased as one clicks between these layers of data and, in the process, thinks the smoothly operating computer program is a measure of the strength of program itself, and not the labour required therein. By focusing on this augmented object, I am pointing out the collective labour needed to co-produce the map but how that map then helps to produce the police officer as authority figure. My intention is to look at the map as an unexpected entry point through which to understand how consent and authority is cultivated.

Accordingly, I am concerned with the labour that is erased as this police figure emerges and authority is cultivated on the ground. I focus on the labour that necessarily to produce the police officer as expert because when that labour is erased we are left only with the authority figure that appears to be self-evident—not co-constructed. To understand state practices, as practices and not magical phenomena, we must look for the ways in which the state comes into being through particular practices, such as policing and to identify the necessary labour involved

Find out more about Michelle and her work here and here


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