Current Institutional Affiliation
Anthropology, University Of Chicago

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2017
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Chicago
Police Beyond the State: Jamaican Police Reform and the Postcolonial Present

This research studies police reform in postcolonial Jamaica. It investigates how practices and ideologies of policing "travel internationally," and how they reshape the relationship between the state and its citizens. In recent years, policing has become a major site of public debates about racism, rights, and citizenship. Yet, studies about police forces tend to remain confined within the borders of the nation state and to treat race as a fairly stable object. This research, conversely, asks how policing in a specific locale is made through the interaction of global, national, and local forces, and reads contemporary reforms in light of the colonial past. Two traces of colonialism interest me in particular: race and place. Thus, my research seeks (1) to identify whether, and in what ways, policing intervenes in the production of race and perhaps transforms local meaning of blackness in Jamaica; and (2) to illuminate the conflicting roles of the postcolonial state–as a "container" of people and social problems, or as a vehicle of historical justice–that come to light in debates surrounding police reform. I am requesting a research grant that will allow me to carry out 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in three branches of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and in two local NGOs that work closely with the force. In these sites, I will document the stakes involved in reforming the Constabulary, and identify emergent trends in transnational policing. I will learn how forms of conduct are legitimized and disseminated, while paying careful attention the way they shape the local meaning of "race." Examining the interactions of race and policing across scales, the results of this research will further the analysis of racialized police violence and contribute to the understanding of policing as a global institution.