Ethnographies of Global Policing

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Volume 16, Number 1, p.131–145 (2020)



The last two decades have seen an unprecedented proliferation of ethnographies of policing in many parts of the world. Implicit in the body of this new work is the continuation of an old and perhaps irresolvable debate on what policing is: the extralegal subjugation of subordinate populations or an agency whose authority is highly restricted by the norms of civilian populations. I argue that the best way to tackle this debate is to further develop the incipient practices of global ethnography, that is, to understand local practices via their global histories.