Research Overview

Fueled by a fundamental desire to interrogate forms of inequality and power that might otherwise remain invisible, and inspired by critical race, feminist and queer theories, my research and teaching interests lie within the broad intersection of global security, governance and the ethics of violence. In the most general sense this translates to an interest in the “anthropology of police,” by which I mean an historically-informed and comparative empirical investigation into contemporary formations of policing as a tool of political intervention, model for governance and vector for ethical reflection. More specifically, my work has focused on developing approaches to “police” that can serve as an entrée into ethnographically-grounded questions of neoliberal political economy through a focus on how political actors negotiate the violence which resides at the very center of law within the modern state.


Below is only an infrequently updated list of my various publications.  Some of my research is available for free through various online repositories, most especially at, ResearchGate, or ORCID):

Books, Edited Volumes & Special Issues
2018 The Anthropology of Police (Routledge Frontiers of Criminal Justice). Co-Editor, with William Garriott. Routledge Press, UK. ISBN: 1138919659.
2016 No longer merely “good to think”: The new anthropology of police as a mode of critical thought. Guest Editor. Special Issue of the journal Theoretical Criminology 20(4), November 2016.
m.s. The Police Against Itself: reassembling French liberalism “after the social”.   Book manuscript, solicited by Cornell University Press.
Peer-Reviewed Articles & Book Chapters
2016 Introduction: No Longer Merely “Good to Think”: the new anthropology of police as a mode of critical thought. Theoretical Criminology 20(4):419-429.
2016 Terroir, Terreur, Terrace: vectors of police and public in France after “Charlie Hebdo”. Anthropology Now! 8(2):1-12.
2016 “The Anthropology of Police” in The SAGE Handbook of Global Policing, Ian Loader, Ben Bradford, Beatrice Jauregui, Jonny Steinberg (eds.) Sage: Oxford.
2015 The Anthropology of Police as Public Anthropology. American Anthropologist 117 (4), 786-789 (with Paul Mutsaers and Jennie Simpson).
2013 Adjusting the Police: state, society and the distance of just violence in contemporary France. In Policing and Contemporary Governance: the anthropology of police in practice, edited by William Garriott. New York: Palgrave.
2010 Of Heroes and Polemics: the figure of ‘The Policeman’ in urban ethnography. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, Vol. 33, Number S1, pps. 7–31. Special Issue on “Disciplinary Edges.”
2008 Ethnography, or the Direction of Eros: A reading of Plato‟s Symposium and Malinowski‟s “The Subject, Method and Scope of This Inquiry”. Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers, 97:63-74.
1999 White Noise: the production of whiteness through representations of Native Americans. Steward Journal of Anthropology 27(1-2):74-98.
m.s. Moral direction in a post-social police: making police multiple through experiments in French liberalism. Manuscript invited for a special issue of Qualitative Sociology on “Ethnographies of Security”
m.s. Electric Burns: attending the microphysics of police practice.   Preparing under a “revise and resubmit” recommendation for the journal Public Culture
m.s. Is an “Anthropology of Police” Possible? In preparation, with William Garriott for Current Anthropology
Joint Research Projects & reports
2002 Informal Arts: finding Cohesion, Capacity, and Other Cultural Benefits in Unexpected Places. Research Report to the Chicago Center for Arts Policy at Columbia College.   Alaka Wali, Ph.D., Principal Investigator.
2001 Stress and resilience: the social context of reproduction in Central Harlem. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. Dr. Leith Mullings & Dr. Alaka Wali, Principal Investigators.
Other Academic Writing (Reference Works, Reviews, Invited Blog Posts, Etc.)
2017 Book Review Essay: The Emergence of an Anthropology of Police. Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR)
2017 Somatosphere Forum on James Ferguson’s Give a Man a Fish
2015 “Postscript to ‘Of Heroes…’”. Political and Legal Anthropology Review Special Virtual Issue on “The Pathos of Law”
2014 “Community Policing” in SAGE Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice Ethics, Bruce Arrigo, editor.   Sage: New York.
2014 “Our Own Impersonal Daemons: working through the anthropology of the contemporary.” Book Forum: “Demands of Day”. Anthropological Research on the Contemporary. (accessed February 26, 2014).
2013 Review of Jock Young’s The Criminological Imagination. In Critical Criminology 21(3):389-391.
2013 “Fault Lines” in an Anthropology of Police, Both Local and Global. In Anthropology News 54(11-12):3-4 (posted online July 30th, 2013).
2013 Using George Zimmerman as an Object Lesson in the Anthropology of Policing.   Savage Minds Blog (July 16th, 2013).
2006 Implementing Police Reform in Sarkozy’s France. Center on Institutions and Governance Working Paper No. 44. Institute of Governmental Studies University of California, Berkeley. Available at
Selected Blog Posts, Op-Eds & Commentaries
August 2016 Introducing the Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatter Syllabus Project (w/ Sameena Mulla)
July 2016 So wait, are there racial disparities in US policing or not? (Answer: YES!)
January 2015 Interview: A. Lynn Bolles on Political Action at the 2014 American Anthropological Association Meeting. Anthropoliteia.
January 2015 On Charlie Hebdo: metaphor and the tyranny of secular liberalism. Anthropoliteia.
March 2013 Fieldnotes: Thinking through Subjectivity & Materiality through TASERS. Kevin Karpiak’s Blog.
January 2013 Some Thoughts on the French Protests Against Gay Marriage. Kevin Karpiak’s Blog
December 2012 In The News: Anthropologists, Criminologists (and some others) on the Newtown Shootings. Anthropoliteia: the anthropology of policing Blog.
August 2012 Ian Hacking, Causality & the Telling of History Kevin Karpiak’s Blog
April 2012 Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and the Anthropology of Police. Anthropoliteia: the anthropology of policing Blog.
August 2011 Some thoughts on the London “riots”: Foucault’s genealogy of neoliberalism and “police as a public service”. Anthropoliteia: the anthropology of policing Blog.
June 2011 Universal Moral Grammar? Kevin Karpiak’s Blog
November 2010 The Progressive Roots of American Anthropology (versus the Tea Party last time) Kevin Karpiak’s Blog
February 2010 Studying Military, Security & Intelligence Communities Ethics Casebook by the American Anthropological Association. Anthropoliteia: the anthropology of policing Blog.
October 2009 Is the “culture of results” bad for life? Kevin Karpiak’s Blog
September 2009 Liberalism, Transparency and the Interior Labyrinth. Kevin Karpiak’s Blog

September 2009 What is neoliberalism and how can we tell? Kevin Karpiak’s Blog

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a blog about post-social policing, anthropology, science studies and more