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Barbara Thériault

How does one deal with diversity in an organization known to be hostile to it? Drawing on a Weberian perspective I present in this article one case occurring in actual historical practice: that of Inspector Bobkowski, a teacher, chief of the political education unit at the Berlin police academy and training center, and a hobby historian. With an eye to the case at hand as well as other efforts to deal with difference under the Weimar Republic encountered during my fieldwork, I attempt to uncover the motives underlying the action of officers who contributed to the promotion of diversity within the police force in Germany. Inquiring into their motives enables me to construct an ideal type of a “carrier of diversity,” which, I argue, shares affinities with a liberal agenda of civic equality.

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Policing production

Corporate governmentality and the Cultivation System

Albert Schrauwers

This article reexamines the Cultivation System in early nineteenth-century Java as part of an assemblage of Crown strategies, programs, and technologies to manage the economy—and more particularly, “police” the paupers—of the “greater Netherlands.” This article looks at the integrated global commodity chains within which the System was embedded, and the common governmental strategies adopted by the Dutch Crown to manage these flows in both metropole and colony. It focuses on the role of an early corporation, the Netherlands Trading Company, that also served as the administrator of poverty-relief efforts in the Eastern Netherlands where cotton cloth was produced. The article argues that corporate governmentality arose as a purposive strategy of avoiding liberal parliamentary scrutiny and bolstering the “enlightened absolutism” of the Crown. By withdrawing responsibility for the policing of paupers from the state, and vesting it in corporations, the Crown commercialized the delivery of pauper relief and reduced state expenditure, while still generating large profits.

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Riding Along with Police

Opportunity for Learning and Beyond

Anita M. Waters, Antonius C.G.M. Robben, Chris Giacomantonio and Steve Herbert

In the summer of 2008 I sent out a call to thirty former students from three semesters between 2000 and 2005, to reflect on what they learned from the “ride-alongs” with police, whether the project has changed their views on social order and the state, on the practice of law enforcement, and on the process of gathering knowledge about social life in general. Ten responded, and their ideas show that the experience of police ethnography had a considerable impact.

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Jérémie Barthas

‘No government can protect the rights of citizens without rigorous police, but the difference between a free regime and a tyrannical one is that, in the former, the police are employed against that minority opposed to the general good as well as against the abuse and negligence of the authorities; whereas, in the latter the State police are employed against the down-trodden who are thus delivered into the hands of injustice and impunity’.

This declaration was not a reaction to the Marikana massacre (16 August 2012), when a British mining company operating in South Africa had a special unit of the post-Apartheid South African Police Service murderously repress a mine workers strike, by means of mass shooting; many of those killed were later found to have been shot in the back as they ran away from the volley of bullets. It was made about two hundred and twenty years before, in April 1794, when revolutionary France was experiencing its most tragic moments. In the context of the Terror, and facing the necessity to discipline it, its author, Saint-Just (1767–1794), redeployed some of the most classical concepts in the History of Political Thought – freedom versus tyranny, general good versus particular interest, elite accountability versus impunity of power – in order to provide the ideological principles framing the organisation, within the web of the revolutionary police, of a special office in charge of the surveillance of the Executive and of public authorities.

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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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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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"The Riots Were Where the Police Were

Deconstructing the Pendelton Riot

Bob Jeffery and Waqas Tufail

This article explores the social dynamics in the city of Salford at the time of the Pendleton riot, which took place amidst the four days of national rioting that began with the killing of Mark Duggan in Tottenham by the Metropolitan Police Service. Attempting to counter what we see as a dominant narrative of the riots as 'shopping with violence', this article explores the development of the significant disorder in Salford through a triangulation of accounts, including an extensive review of journalistic accounts, alongside interviews from a dozen people who witnessed the riots as police officers, residents and spectators. Beginning with an overview of the events of August 9th 2011, we argue that the deployment of officers in riots gear in the vicinity of Salford Precinct proved provocative, and created a focal point for the widespread antagonism felt towards the police. Furthermore, we suggest that an understanding of local contextual factors is critical both in terms of answering the question ‘why Salford?’, but also in terms of explaining the ferocity of the violence targeted towards officers of Greater Manchester Police (in contrast to the focus on looting in nearby Manchester city-centre). Interpreting the riots as a response to punitive policing policies that have accompanied state-directed policies of large-scale gentrification, we highlight the degree to which the 'contestations over space' that characterized the riot pointed to an underlying politics of resistance (despite lacking 'formal' political articulation).

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Consoling police victims with symbolic politics?

The Movimiento del Dolor and the Argentinean state

Marieke Denissen

In recent years police violence and impunity have become important items on the societal and political agenda in Argentina. The family members of police victims, coming together in the Movimiento del Dolor, take up a prominent place in holding the government accountable by means of repeated demonstrations, the creation of civil society organizations, and participation in public debate. In response, the Kirchner administration started a ‘politics of rapprochement’ in an attempt to establish alliances with family members of victims. The clearest expression of this politics is the creation of the PNAI, the national program against impunity, an initiative in which family members of victims participate actively. Consequences for the relations between the latter and the state and among family members of victims themselves will be examined. The ‘politics of rapprochement’ is an attempt to co-opt the Movimiento del Dolor, but at the same time includes elements of cooperation. It is a government initiative to show it is on the side of the victims but at the same time is criticized by part of the victims for being just symbolic politics that ignores the necessary large-scale transformations that the police and the judiciary have to undergo in order to stop the impunity in Argentina.

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Policing at a distance and that human thing

An appreciative critique of police surveillance

David Sausdal

Policing technologies are increasingly being developed to surveil and control people from afar. This is especially true in relation to cross-border crimes and other global threats where the necessity of monitoring such illegal flows is often advocated. In the literature, this is sometimes referred to as “policing at a distance,” signifying how the growth in different policing technologies is allowing police to oversee people without coming into physical contact with them. Overall, scholars find this development alarming. It is alarming because it reduces human lives to data points and because studies have shown how policing at a distance may trigger hateful police attitudes. With these problems of policing at a distance in mind, this article explores how an increasing use of surveillance technologies affects Danish detectives.

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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.