Centering Colonization and Resistance in Analyses of Policing

Kaden Paulson-Smith, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay

The growing field of critical carceral studies reframes deeply seeded assumptions about the police as myths, such as the purported distinction between the military and police. Similar to policing practices, these myths tend to adapt to changing circumstances and scrutiny. By illuminating how persistent structures of enslavement and colonization continue to shape contemporary policing around the world, more incisive theories of the relationship between police, state, and society are taking root. In my analysis of colonial policing under the British Empire, I find that police carried out everyday counterinsurgency campaigns which were resisted at every turn, especially in areas of concentrated political and economic power. This created a feedback loop and escalated the cross-pollination of policing strategies to expand surveillance, control riots, and break strikes throughout the British Empire in the twentieth century. Historically informed analyses of colonization and resistance to it allow new understandings of the role and design of the modern police on a global scale.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 153. Presidential Session: New Directions in the Critical Study of Global Counterinsurgency and the Police-Military Continuum