CfP AAA/CASCA 2023 Panel: Transitions in Police Training
We are looking for submissions for our proposed panel "Transitions in Police Training" (working title) for the 2023 American Anthropological Association/Canadian Anthropology Society annual meeting. We are currently planning for an in-person panel. If you are interested, please submit a maximum 250-word abstract to the panel organizers by March 24. We will notify participants by March 28. (Since we are sending notifications after March 22, the deadline for starting a submission in the portal, participants may want to start their own submission by that date in any case.)
We look forward to receiving your submissions!
Christina Aushana (email@example.com)
Jessica Katzenstein (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ethnographies of policing have long focused on the patrol field as the primary site in which to study police epistemes. Anthropologists of police (Barker 1999; Cabot 2018; Jauregui 2013; Salem and Larkins 2021) and interdisciplinary ethnographers of state violence (Alves and Vargas 2017; LeBrón 2019), often using the dominant modality of the police ride-along, have invited us to the streets of Paris where refugees are policed (Fassin 2013), to the back-alley beats of Taiwanese officers (Martin 2019), and elsewhere. Yet, as Tyre Nichols’ highly mediatized death at the hands of five Memphis police officers once again reveals in the long citational chain of anti-Black police violence, what happens in the patrol field is not merely evidence of a unitary “police culture” that can be corrected through diversity efforts, body cameras, or more effective training programs (cf. American University 2021). Focusing the ethnographic gaze solely on sites of “real life,” street-level police work leaves unaddressed the imaginaries of racialized violence in/scripted in training. Scholarship on the possibilities and limits of police reform, both within and outside the U.S. (Akarsu 2020; Babül 2017; Hornberger 2011), suggests the need to transition toward a model of police ethnography that necessarily encompasses sites beyond “the street.”
This panel adjusts the aperture of the anthropological lens to examine how police trainings and paradigms shape the methods, objects, epistemes, and ethics of police, as well as those of the ethnographer. We build on the work of anthropologists like Aisha Beliso-De Jesús (2020) for whom the training worlds of police recruits and instructors cannot be extricated from the settler colonial fantasies and metaphors that render racial imaginaries of violent Black, Brown, and Indigenous neighborhoods shareable, inhabitable, and mobile before recruits enter the patrol field. Such imaginaries are visible today in the ongoing police killings and state abandonment of Indigenous Canadians, the “Cop City” training facility in Atlanta, and anti-Black and anti-immigrant police violence worldwide.
We welcome papers that engage with the following questions:
What do ethnographies of police training allow us to understand that ethnographies of "real-life" policing do not? What forms of racialized and gendered violence do they clarify and obscure? What metaphors, temporalities, and performances of "reality" do they produce?
What conceptual and political distinctions/convergences emerge in comparing (or comparative) studies of police training globally? What do (mis)translations across contexts produce?
How might studies of police training that expand the formalistic category of "police" - by focusing on private security, neighborhood watch groups, etc. - complicate those that focus specifically on state agents? Moreover, what is enabled by broadening our conception of "training"?
How should we parse the politics of anthropologists' engagement in police training, both broadly as a form of "dirty anthropology" (Jauregui 2013) vis-a-vis our imbrication in state violence, and specifically as a space that seems to compel involvement in "improvement"? What does such involvement in ethnography’s “double binds” (Zilberg 2016) open and foreclose?
Lastly, by revealing the tacit, teachable models that mobilize policing’s racial/izing optics, how might “studying up” (Nader 1972) in sites of police training offer the anthropology of policing a route to resist the reformism of minor repairs?