Black Lives Matter Syllabus Project

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, Week 5: Meg Stalcup and Charles Hahn on Technology, Surveillance, and Security

The editors of Anthropoliteia are happy to present the latest entry in on ongoing series The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, which will mobilize anthropological work as a pedagogical exercise addressing the confluence of race, policing and justice.  You can see a growing bibliography of resources via our Mendeley feed.   In this entry, Meg Stalcup and Charles Hahn discuss technology, surveillance, and security in their article “Cops, Cameras and the Policing of Ethics“.
 
Screen grab from post by SPDbodywornvideo CC BY-SA 4.0 2015 by Meg Stalcup

Screen grab from post by SPDbodywornvideo CC BY-SA 4.0 2015 by Meg Stalcup

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In the Journals

In the Journals – June 2016

Surveillance Camera

Welcome back to In the Journals, a monthly review of just a fraction of the most recent academic research on security, crime, policing, and the law. The summer solstice has passed, and many of us are no doubt in the throes of fieldwork. Regardless, we here at Anthropoliteia will continue to bring you the best and most interesting recent publications for the entirety of the summer season.

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In the Journals

In the Journals – September 2015

Brotherhood Week

Welcome back to In the Journals, a round-up of recent journal publications on security, crime, law enforcement and the state. September is upon us, and that means classes are back in session, fieldwork has (probably) come to a halt for the time being, and academics are much too busy to scour journals for the most interesting and thought-provoking articles. That’s where In the Journals steps in and brings you, our dear readers, the latest and greatest articles and book reviews.

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In the Journals

In the Journals – August 2015

Installing_razor_wire_at_Camp_XRay,_Guantanamo

Welcome back to In the Journals, a round-up of recent journal publications on security, crime, law enforcement and the state. After a brief hiatus over the summer, we’re happy to be back with a batch of the most recent articles and reviews for our dear readers.

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DragNet

DragNet: April 20 – May 3, 2015

"I think you have to have a shared collective memory of the past to recognize another human being," writes Lawrence Jackson. His post, On Becoming More Human, examines the recent protests against police violence in Baltimore from his perspective as an African American man.

“I think you have to have a shared collective memory of the past to recognize another human being,” writes Lawrence Jackson. His post, On Becoming More Human, examines the recent protests against police violence in Baltimore from his perspective as an African American man.

I was happy to see Illana Feldman’s new book, Police Encounters: Security and Surveillance in Gaza Under Egyptian Rule, make the rounds on our twitter feed last month. In it, my former Anthropology professor at George Washington University discusses the topics of surveillance, control and police violence in Gaza during the period of Egyptian rule. Disclaimer: you’ll want to block off a few hours to tap into this one…it’s addictive from the start!

“I think you have to have a shared collective memory of the past to recognize another human being,” writes Lawrence Jackson for n plus one magazine. His post, On Becoming More Human, examines the recent protests against police violence in Baltimore from his perspective as an African American man. Jackson is a professor of African American Studies and English at Emory University, and is the author of the 2012 memoir, My Father’s Name: A Black Virginia Family after the Civil War. His post undoubtedly earns my vote for “best of the month”- if you have time for one (and only one) read today, this is it.

Those interested in coverage about the tragic police-related death of Freddie Gray shouldn’t miss NPR’s Weekend Edition that we shared late last month. In it, Scott Simon recounts his experience walking among the residents of West Baltimore in the wake of police protests. As the title attests, to many West Baltimoreans, the “largest gang is, in fact, the police.” We also recommend Ta-Nehisi Coates’ post, Nonviolence as Compliance, which was featured via The Atlantic.

What does the concept of “touch” mean, in a policing context? Mark Greif reflects on this question and more in his post, Seeing Through Police. He discusses the “rules” of police-citizen contact (i.e.- they touch you, you keep your hands to yourself), its many functions (intimidation, reassurance, “traffic direction”) and forms (hands vs. batons). What’s perhaps most intriguing about this post is its dual -and rather empathetic- consideration of police as police, and police as people. At the same time, it presents a critical and well-balanced portrait of modern police practices.

Finally, we are pleased to offer continuing coverage of the American Anthropological Association’s developing initiatives regarding police brutality. AAA recently announced they’ll be offering a working group to monitor racialized police brutality and extrajudicial violence. Co-chairs include David Simmons, Marla Frederick and Shalini Shankar. You can view the Working Group charge here.

Did I miss something? No worries- it does happen on occasion. If you have any suggestions for DragNet, or if you want to call attention to a specific blog or article, send an email to anthropoliteia@gmail.com with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!

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DragNet

DragNet: February 23 – March 8, 2015

Spencer Ackerman's post for The Guardian  investigates a US-based policing "black site" known simply as Homan Square. Once inside the walls of this Chicago warehouse, constitutional rights are said to go out the window.

Spencer Ackerman’s post for The Guardian investigates a US-based policing “black site” known simply as Homan Square. Once inside the walls of this Chicago warehouse, constitutional rights are said to go out the window.

It would appear that Ali Wajahat is not the only name in modern-day cop shows with a twist according to a post by Mike Hale of NYtimes.com. Comedian Colin Quinn’s series, creatively dubbed “Cop Show”, debuted in mid-February and is quickly accumulating nods of approval for its amusement factor. Look for cameos by big-wig comedians, such as Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Gaffigan, on this mock-u-mentary hit. You can catch up on the series- which is currently available for streaming- on LStudio.com.

In far less cheery news, we also shared Spencer Ackerman‘s post for The Guardian, which investigates a US-based policing “black site” known simply as Homan Square. Once inside the walls of this Chicago warehouse, constitutional rights are said to go out the window. Lawyers interviewed by Ackerman report that it has become standard practice to assume apprehended individuals who remain “unlocatable” through otherwise standard procedures have landed themselves within the Homan black box. Follow ongoing coverage of the investigation by The Guardian here. We also recommend Alexandra Starr of NPR’s post for Codeswitch we featured earlier this month.

A previous DragNet post asked, “When officers behave questionably, who you gonna call?” It appears Shea Serrano -staff writer for Grantland– has taken it upon himself to provide an answer to our quandary. His post, The Second Banana Cop Matrix: A Definitive Guide to Who You Should Call for Backup wins my non-existent prize for best satirical post of the month (plus, after reading Homan Square coverage we could all use some comic relief, right?). Worthy of note is his shout out to my own personal favorite police “side-kick” ever: the kid from Last Action Hero.

The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing released some recommendations for improving police-citizen relations this month, beginning with the regular measuring of “community trust”. Carrie Johnson‘s post for The Two-Way also recaps the Task Force’s stance on the ever-popular “body-worn camera solution“, with concerns about privacy packing a powerful punch. These recommendations came just days before the killing of Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson, which is especially poignant given that Commissioner Charles Ramsey has a position on the Task Force. Also noteworthy is the fact that Wilson’s district is the site of PPD’s current body-worn camera pilot project.

Also on the topic of police-citizen violence, a DOJ investigation into patterns of police use of force in Ferguson, Missouri found “alleged sweeping patterns of discrimination” within the city’s police department. But the discrimination doesn’t end there. The report also found that blacks were “68% less likely than other races to have their cases dismissed by a municipal court judge”. My personal LEAST favorite statistic, you ask? Of 21,000 total Ferguson residents, 16,000 of them were found to have outstanding warrants (often for minor violations). Stay tuned to our twitter feed for ongoing coverage!

Did I miss something? No worries- it does happen on occasion. If you have any suggestions for DragNet, or if you want to call attention to a specific blog or article, send an email to anthropoliteia@gmail.com with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!

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DragNet

DragNet: January 1-12, 2015

Police_violence

Police Chief Charles Ramsey and George Mason’s Laurie Robinson were selected by President Obama to serve on the White House’s newly created Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The President hopes the task force will come up with solutions for improving police-citizen interactions by mid-February.

Body cameras aren’t a quick fix for police violence, writes Jennifer Dawn Carlson in her post for LA Times. The failure of juries to indict Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo in the wrongful death cases of two unarmed citizens has left many pointing to body camera technology as an obvious solution for ending police-citizen violence. Carlson closes her piece with a powerful question: if citizens equipped with cameras aren’t enough, will officers equipped with cameras prove to be?

Speaking of the police-citizen rift, we shared NPR’s Renee Montagne’s interview with Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Laurie Robinson of George Mason University. Ramsey and Robinson were selected by President Obama to serve on the White House’s newly created Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Obama hopes the task force will come up with solutions for improving police-citizen interactions by mid-February.

Others have suggested a large portion of the police-citizen problem is arguably caused by a lack of knowledge about who polices the police (and how thoroughly). Alex Vitale’s post for The Nation highlights a selection of relevant literature about the subject to get the conversation going.

What on earth would a police department with an enforcement population under 29,000 people need “two bomb disposal robots, 10 tactical trucks and 35 assault rifles” for? We shared Shawn Musgrave, Tom Meagher and Gabriel Dance’s post from the Marshall Project, entitled “The Pentagon Finally Details its Weapons-for-Cops Giveaway” earlier this month. They detail which military grade equipment many local departments have received from military surpluses.

What’s on Anthropoliteia’s Blog Menu for 2015, you ask? Find out here– where you’ll also find a listing of our most popular posts of 2014. Top blogs included Jennie Simpson’s “Do Police Departments Need Anthropologists?” and “Little Green Men: Russia, Ukraine and post-Soviet Sovereignty” by Alexi Yurchak.

Lastly but importantly, Anthropoliteia will be launching a new forum in light of the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks. In the meantime, you can peruse our list of useful commentaries below:

Did I miss something? No worries- it does happen on occasion. If you have any suggestions for DragNet, or if you want to call attention to a specific blog or article, send an email to anthropoliteia@gmail.com with the words “DragNet” in the subject header and I’ll get on it!

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