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Fabricating the Color Line in a White Democracy

From Slave Catchers to Petty Sovereigns

Ben Brucato

Though states are founded in and dependent on successfully claiming a monopoly on the use of violent force and the certification of citizenship, these means suggest particular ends: the production of the social order. Police have the primary mandate to produce order and administer poverty. From a new abolitionist perspective, the particular social order of the U.S. is unique. The white race was founded through the production and maintenance of the color line and performed through a cross-class alliance of whites. Policing is deeply implicated in these processes. A historical account of police during the Herrenvolk era is provided. Finally, the persistence of racist policing is explained in light of a now officially color-blind political order, with officers functioning as petty sovereigns in a neoliberal era.

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Derrière le massacre d’État

Ancrages politiques, sociaux et territoriaux de la “démonstration de masse” du 17 octobre 1961 à Paris

Emmanuel Blanchard

This article offers new insights about the demonstrations organized by the FLN’s Fédération de France in October 1961. Thousands of Algerians rallied in Paris streets to protest against a discriminatory curfew. The French police repressed these demonstrations with shootings and other lethal practices. Dozens of demonstrators were killed in one of the most brutal massacres perpetrated in Western Europe after the Second World War. Since the end of the 1980s, historians and activists proposed narratives of these events that mainly portray the Algerians as victims of a colonial repression that should be recognized by French authorities. But these demonstrations were also a moment of national pride for Algerians who had emigrated to France. They contributed to the political battle for Algerian independence through the echoes given by the international press: French authorities were challenged in Paris streets and they recognized they lost a symbolic battle. The reports written by men and women who demonstrated provide the main archival materials for a new narrative focused on the political agency of Algerian immigrants.

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Power/Knowledge Failure

Epistemic Practices and Ideologies of the Secret Police in Former East Germany

Andreas Glaeser

This paper traces the epistemic practices and ideologies that Stasi (East Germany's former secret police) used to construct the GDR peace and civil rights movements during the 1980s as one of the GDR's key enemies. In particular, the paper addresses the question of how communications in organized social encounters that are hierarchized by a cultivation of secrecy (legitimized by a Manichaean worldview) and corresponding myths about the distribution of knowledge and the proximity to an absolute social good have shaped interpretive processes. The particular epistemic style of Stasi is analyzed as a peculiar conflation of ethics and epistemology which was, ironically, profoundly undialectic, that is monothetic, and thus unable to react constructively to interpretive failures in response to a fast changing environment.

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Undocumented People (En)Counter Border Policing

Near and Far from the US Border

Denise Brennan

This article examines undocumented people’s everyday lived experience in the United States where their legal status is criminalized. It asks how they live with constant threat and surveillance. It highlights their strategies of invisibility as well as their generous contributions to their communities. It argues that these acts of “community caretaking” are acts of “hospitality” that demonstrate their “good citizenship.” Every time undocumented people conduct “know your rights” workshops, they model citizenship in action. The article also explores the other side of the daily equation to stay safe and spotlights undocumented people’s encounters with law enforcement agents. Agents do not act in lockstep, but rather make decisions in split seconds that can change undocumented people’s lives forever. Drawing from ethnographic field research in migrant communities inside the “100-mile border zone” as well as deep in the US interior, the article argues that “border policing” happens far from the border.

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Policing the Post-Colonial Order

Surveillance and the African Immigrant Community in France, 1960-1979

Gillian Glaes

By the early 1960s, an increasing number of Africans migrated to France from their former colonies in West Africa. Most were men hoping to gain employment in several different industries. Their settlement in Paris and other cities signaled the start of "post-colonial" African immigration to France. While scholars have analyzed several facets of this migration, they often overlook the ways in which France's role as a colonial power in West Africa impacted the reception of these immigrants after 1960, where surveillance played a critical role. Colonial regimes policed and monitored the activities of indigenous populations and anyone else they deemed problematic. The desire to understand newly arriving immigrant groups and suspicion of foreign-born populations intersected with the state's capacity to monitor certain groups in order to regulate and control them. While not physically violent, these surveillance practices reflected the role that symbolic violence played in the French government's approach to this post-colonial immigrant population.

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La Police de l'Air

Amateur Radio and the Politics of Aural Surveillance in France, 1921-1940

Derek W. Vaillant

As France wrestles over the uses and societal impact of digital media and the Internet, it is instructive to recall another era of communications innovation, namely the introduction of interwar radio to the French public, and the government's reaction to controversial applications by the citizenry. Recent scholarship has underscored the importance of interwar radio broadcasting to France and its territories. Less explored, however, is the work of amateur user/developers who shaped the radio medium as an instrument of speaking, as well as listening. Determined to manage applications of radio, the French Interior Ministry formed a Police de l'Air to monitor France's airwaves, including the activities of amateur radio users (i.e., hams), whose lawful (and sometimes unlawful) use of point-to-point and broadcast communication had begun to significantly disrupt the government's effort to dictate the future forms and uses of radio. Against a backdrop of political crisis and attempts to manage print and electronic communication and dissent, the skirmishes between the Police de l'Air and amateur radio users reveal historical aspects of contemporary debates over use, access, and qualifications to speak and be heard in mediated cultural and political settings.

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Introduction

Ethnographies of Private Security

Erella Grassiani and Tessa Diphoorn

This introduction emphasizes the value of an anthropological lens within the research on private security. Although much scholarly work has been conducted on private security throughout the past decades, anthropological attention for this subject was somewhat delayed. Yet, the works that have emerged from this discipline through ethnographic fieldwork have provided new and different types of insights, namely bottom-up understandings that explore the daily practices and performances of security and the experiences of the security actors themselves, that other disciplines can unquestionably draw from. As the introductory piece of this section, it also familiarizes the four articles that constitute various “ethnographies of private security.”

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The District Leadership Cadre of the Stasi

Who Were These Men and Why Did They Not Crush Mass Protest in 1989?

Uwe Krähnke, Anja Zschirpe, Matthias Finster, Philipp Reimann and Scott Stock Gissendanner

More than twenty-five years after the revolution that toppled the German Democratic Republic, we still know little about the personnel of the organization that should have prevented it: the East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi). This article reports on an individual-level investigation of the entire Stasi leadership cadre of the Karl-Marx-Stadt district with information on socioeconomic status, careers, institutional constraints and organizational culture. Although a generational cleavage was evident, we argue that Stasi leadership was so deeply convinced of socialism’s superiority and so thoroughly habituated to the bureaucratic routine of the normal “party soldier” that it was caught utterly by surprise with no plan to annihilate massive opposition from within.

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Guarding the Body

Private Security Work in Rio de Janeiro

Erika Robb Larkins

Drawing on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the private security industry, this article focuses on the training of low-level guards, examining the centrality of the body and embodied experience to their work in hospitality settings. In a racially stratified society in which lower-class, dark-skinned bodies are oft en equated with poverty and criminality, security guards are required to perform an image of upstanding, respectable, law-abiding citizens in order to do their jobs protecting corporate property. Guards learn techniques of body management at security schools as part of their basic training. They also learn how to subdue the bodies of others, including those of white elites, who represent a constant challenge to their authority. Working from my own experiences as a student in private security schools, I argue for the relevance of an understanding of the body and its significations to private security work.

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The Strangeness of Foreigners

Policing Migration and Nation in Interwar Marseille

Mary Dewhurst Lewis

A man has all his moral value, according to us, only in the middle of his fellow citizens, in the city where he has always lived under the eyes of those citizens, watched, judged, and appreciated by them … but in general the displaced person, whom we call a vagabond, no longer has his moral value.

- Adolphe Thiers