Here at Anthropoliteia we’re always looking for new ways to explore new technologies to broaden the discussion on police, security, law and punishment from global and anthropological perspectives. In this vein, the Editors are happy to announce a new (semi) regular series of video conversations that we’re calling Interrogations. Although the series will be edited by Kristen Drybread and Johanna Rohmer, this first episode was moderated by our General Editor, Kevin Karpiak.
This first conversation consists of a discussion with Dr. A. Lynn Bolles that begins with the events leading up to and occurring at the 2014 American Anthropological Association Meetings in Washington D.C. but traverses other issues in the anthropology of policing, including the specific challenges and opportunities anthropologists face in their intersecting roles as scholars, educators, and political subjects.
Here’s just a small portion of that conversation (full video below), beginning around the 19th minute, on the pedagogical promise of anthropology:
Karpiak: For people reading this blog, people interested in the study of police and security and prison officers, where do you think we can go with this now?
Bolles: You can get a PhD at the University of Maryland and become a “top cop”… but the emphasis is not on the policing but those who are policed. So when I finally do have Criminal Justice majors in my class, they’re going “Oh, this is really different from what i’m getting in my major!” And I say, “I’m glad you’re taking my class because how are we going to deal with immigration? How are we going do deal with some of these major issues….”
K: Can you give me an example of how your classes might be different from some of the other classes that students might be taking?
B: My classes are based on the premise of mis-education; “so let me tell you what the real deal is.” I just finished teaching a course on Caribbean Women. So I said, “We have to go back, because many of you–all of you–unless you are of Caribbean descent, you don’t know anything about this other place in the world.” And then we talk about differences in inequality, how inequality looks different in other places. What do you do with a majority Black society where inequality is just as severe as it is in the United States? This just throws them for a loop. So what are the means of this stratification? This gives them an opportunity to think differently about the United States.
K: So what I hear you saying is that one of the things that Anthropology can bring to the situation after Ferguson is a comparative perspective on power, inequality and how stratification works and to think of policing as a mechanism for that.