Ethnographies of Global Policing

Presented by Jonny Steinberg

Monday, 9 March, 2020 - 15:00

This paper considers two questions: 1) can ethnography be used to understand global processes or is its rootedness in time and place fatal? 2) What is policing - who exercises power through it and to what ends? 

Extract:  Long before academic scholarship developed an intellectual apparatus that would make
conceivable what this essay defines as ‘ethnographies of global policing’, something of their
spirit existed in the annuls of narrative writing. Among the most famous, and perhaps also
the most instructive, examples is George Orwell’s 1936 essay, ‘Shooting an Elephant’.
In the essay, Orwell recalls a time when he was a young police officer in the Burmese town of
Moulmein. A junior official in the outer provinces of the British empire, he was acutely aware
that the people of Moulmein loathed him, ‘the only time in my life I have been important
enough’ to hate, he writes...

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