George Floyd’s killing has catalyzed global public outrage and reignited a slow-burning crisis of U.S. police legitimacy. Legal mechanisms for avoiding murder charges, police unions’ political dominance, the viability of police reform, and omnipresent white supremacy and anti-Black racism all face broader questioning than ever. Meanwhile, harshly imposed lockdowns in other parts of the pandemic-stricken world have worsened existing violence, with police harassing, beating, and killing already vulnerable people— migrant workers, Roma and Black people, oppressed religious minorities—while purportedly enforcing regulations in India, Brazil, the United States, and multiple European countries. The work of policing stands among and often exacerbates the global challenges of the early twenty-first century.
Exertions, the short-form web publication of the Society for the Anthropology of Work, invites submissions of no more than 1,500 words for a special forum on policing and labor. Reading policing through the lens of work—and work through the lens of policing—disturbs conceptions of state violence, traditional labor solidarities, and research methods by focusing on the figure of the police officer as both a powerful state agent and a classed worker. How is state dominance materialized or refigured through the labor of policing, whether in the spectacle of the uniformed officer or the more informal work of private security, neighborhood patrols, or self-deputized citizens? How should we understand officers’ own economic precarities or racialized and gendered vulnerabilities alongside their function of maintaining the social order? How can scholars contribute to the work of analyzing, reforming, or even abolishing institutions of state violence, and by what methods should they pursue such projects?
We welcome contributions to this forum from both within and beyond anthropology, composed for a variety of audiences in the form of text or other media. To contribute, please send a 3- to 4-sentence proposal to series editor Jessica Katzenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, July 23. Decisions will be sent out by the end of the week, with full drafts requested from accepted contributors by August 15. Posts will be published on a rolling basis after an expedited editorial review process.