Tag Archives: Police Nationale

Ne touche pas à mon moto!

One of Le parisien.com‘s affiliated blogs has a cute story about trying to compare the motorcycles of French versus American police… but he can’t get the permission Frenchside to look at one, for no good reason other than “non”.  I feel that

Flic Story…

Quelle différence peut -il y avoir entre une moto de la police nationale et celle d’un flic américain ? Réponse ci-dessous…

HD Police

via Flic Story… – Roues Libres – Le blog 2 ROUES par Jean Marc Navarro – leParisien.fr.

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1 in 10 French police are “issued from immigration,” and this is news because…?

According to the Institut national des études démographiques (Ined), and as reported in Le Figaro, almost 10% of French police are “issued from immigration” (I’ll have to look closer at the original research to see what this means, because in my experience it can mean anything from 1.5 generation to 4th generation) but almost 2/3 of that is from other European countries–Spain, Portugal, Italy– not former French territories and colonies. Still, this is big news because:

1) not many people thought the numbers would be even that high; and

2) these kind state-run surveys of race/ethnicity are extremely rare in France, some even considering them illegal–this particular survey is a direct result of an initiative of Nicolas Sarkozy when he was head of the police as Minister of the Interior

What is neoliberalism and how can we tell?

I just came across a neat blog called Decasia: critique of academic culture run by Eli Thorkelson, a graduate student in the anthropology department at the University of Chicago.  I started to offer a response to his though-provoking post on neoliberalism in the academy when I realized that really I was running on so long that my thoughts should be a post of their own.

In essence, Eli is trying to work through how to ask questions about neoliberalism from an ethnographic perspective–in other words, how to think through the contingencies and particularities of an object that itself traverses many such contexts.

This, of course, is one of the great anthropological questions of the past 30 years, and has been played out in everything from Eric Wolf to Arjun Appadurai to Aihwa Ong and Anna Tsing; from everything from the anthropology of globalization and modernity to the anthropology of the state to the anthropology of humanitarianism.

Appropriately, I think, Eli and friends are trying to tackle this problem through the specific case of universities: how can we make sense of what seem to be linked issues–shared problems, if not exactly shared responses–in the very nature of academic practice today?  I ran into a similar issue when developing my dissertation project on police reform in France: so much of what was going on with Nicolas Sarkozy’s reform of the Police nationale seemed to follow a set script, but it wasn’t long into my time there that i realized that the issues at stake in his “culture of results” were different than, say, what was going on in Berkeley, or London.

How to make sense of this?

For starters, Foucault’s suggestion– in “What is Critique?” and elsewhere— has suggested that “liberalism” is best understood as a form of governance which seeks its own principle of limitation and therefore its corresponding form of critique–liberal critique– is to ask the question: do we have too much government?  In other words, continual and reflexive self-limitation on the power and scope of governance is the characteristic feature of liberalism across its various manifestations.  Beyond that, however, the particular mechanism of this self-limitation is variable.

If the first part of Foucault’s formulation (liberalism as form of self-limitation by government of governance) can be buttressed by the work of everyone from Albert Hirchman to Max Weber, the second part (thinking through the various mechanisms of liberal governance) is most fruitfuly approached, i think, by a group of scholars who follow the work of Nikolas Rose.

For example, rose argues that the distinguishing characteristic of neoliberalism is not “lack of governance,” “accumulation of wealth,” “excess of greed,” or even “privatization” (all popular definitions of the term).  rather the difference between “classical” liberalism and “neoliberalism” is that whereas the former sought a principle whereby the role of government could be limited through the cordoning off of separate “public” and “private” spheres, the latter attempts to use a set of techniques developed in the Market–located, for classic liberalism within the “private” sphere–to better regulate a variety of domains–including those classically relegated to the “public sphere”.

Now, several anthropologists–Aihwa Ong and Jim Ferguson being chief among them, I think– have taken up Rose’s work here in order to focus on the myriad ways neoliberal techniques have been taken up for purposes not predicted by grander theories of economic transformation.  Their point here is, I think, that neoliberalism is  a technical toolkit that can be used in the service of a whole array of political projects.

Now, having said that, in my own dissertation I argued that, while the police reform that I was ethnographizing was indeed a form of liberalism which made use of some of the management techniques usually associated with neoliberalism in the Rose/Ong/Ferguson post-Foucaultian understanding of the term, I’m not sure that it was the sole mechanism of self-limitation.

On the one hand, I think I’m “not sure” mostly because neither were the people I was studying.  in a very tangible sense, they were trying to figure out how to delimit the legitimate violence they were entrusted with.  On the other hand, this very fact seems to suggest that there was at least some kind of experimentation with another, yet emergent, form of liberalism.

Dr. Ong and I have been going back and forth a bit about this ever since: what, for example, I ask her, would a new form of liberalism look like, if it were neither “classical” nor “neo” liberalism?  Can we see any evidence of such a thing in the world around us?  For example, in the post-economic collapse U.S. where there at least circulates the idea that market techniques are not in themselves sufficient “regulation”?

This is the terrain I think Eli & co. are on as they try to think through everything from the University of California’s current economic crisis to Mexican student protests of the 1990’s to ethnic violence at Cameroonian universities.  It is exciting territory, and I’ll be interested to see what they find…

Further reading

Appadurai, A. (2000). Grassroots Globalization and the Research Imagination Public Culture, 12 (1), 1-19 DOI: 10.1215/08992363-12-1-1

Fassin, D. (2007). Humanitarianism as a Politics of Life Public Culture, 19 (3), 499-520 DOI: 10.1215/08992363-2007-007

Ferguson, J., & Gupta, A. (2002). Spatializing States: Toward an Ethnography of Neoliberal Governmentality American Ethnologist, 29 (4), 981-1002 DOI: 10.1525/ae.2002.29.4.981

Foucault, M., Faubion, J. D., Rabinow, P., & Hurley, R. (2000). “Omnes et Singulatim”: toward a critique of political reason (Vol. 3, pp. 298-325). New York: New Press.

Foucault, M., Schmidt, J., & Geiman, K. P. (1996). What Is Critique? (pp. 382-398). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Kearney, M. (1995). The Local and the Global: The Anthropology of Globalization and Transnationalism Annual Review of Anthropology, 24 (1), 547-565 DOI: 10.1146/annurev.an.24.100195.002555

Ong, A. (2000). Graduated Sovereignty in South-East Asia Theory, Culture & Society, 17 (4), 55-75 DOI: 10.1177/02632760022051310

Ong, A. (2006). Neoliberalism as exception : mutations in citizenship and sovereignty. Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press.

Rose, N. (1999) Powers of freedom: reframing political thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University press.

Tsing, A. (2000). The Global Situation Cultural Anthropology, 15 (3), 327-360 DOI: 10.1525/can.2000.15.3.327

WOLF, E. (1999). Anthropology among the powers Social Anthropology, 7 (2), 121-134 DOI: 10.1017/S0964028299000117

Transatlantic Perspectives on the Local Pursuit of Intelligence at UIUC

Here’s the program for a conference on policing immigrant communities that I’ll be participating in at UIUC.  The text here’s via Legal Theory Blog, but you can also find it at ESQ Blog.me:

“Transatlantic Perspectives on the Local Pursuit of Intelligence”

April 2-3, 2009

University of Illinois College of Law

Conference Organizers: Jacqueline Ross, University of Illinois College of Law, and Thierry Delpeuch, Centre National de Recherche Scientifique

Jointly sponsored by the University of Illinois College of Law; the University of Illinois College of Law’s Program in Criminal Law and Procedure; The University of Illinois Police Training Institute; the University of Illinois European Union Center; the United States Embassy in France; the Ministry of the Interior of France (Délégation à la prospective et à la stratégie); the Agence Nationale de Recherche; and France’s Centre National de Recherche Scientifique

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Center for South Asia Studies: Violence and Creativity Workshop (Update)

An update on the Conference/Workshop I’ll be participating in this Saturday. You can see the full program here.  Or, see the info after the break:

Continue reading Center for South Asia Studies: Violence and Creativity Workshop (Update)

Conference: Violence and Creativity (and the Police Nationale)

Next Saturday (March 7th) I’m going to be giving the first in a trilogy of papers this month on the role of the Police Nationale in French banlieue riots of 2005 and 2008.  The overall goal is to finally have an article ready to go, in the end.

The paper on Saturday is entitled “Electric Burns: governmentality and its discontents in the French banlieue riots”.  The title of the conference is “Violence & Creativity” (see abstracts for both after the break).  It’s sposored by UC Berkeley‘s Center for South Asian Studies and it will be held at International House in Berkeley between 10m and 4pm.  The headliner is Ashis Nandy, who was recent named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world.

Continue reading Conference: Violence and Creativity (and the Police Nationale)