Police and Policing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The anthropology of policing draws from a range of intellectual traditions to generate new understandings of the police as an institution and policing as a social practice. This article reviews recent anthropological work on police, situating it in longer-term disciplinary concerns. I begin with the connection between policing and personhood, exploring how the subject-object dynamics of police domination are related to anthropological conceptions of kinship, law, and social control. I then turn to the contribution that anthropological ethnography makes to a critical theory of the relationship between sovereignty, violence, and police power. I conclude by reflecting on the situation of scholarship in our current political environment, suggesting that the anthropological turn to policing is animated, in part, by hope for a better understanding of the nature of moral agency under difficult conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-148
Number of pages16
JournalAnnual Review of Anthropology
StatePublished - Oct 21 2018


  • Law
  • Moral agency
  • Personhood
  • Policing
  • Sovereignty
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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