Accepted Paper:

The multi-cultural city as a challenge for the police in Bremen (Germany)  


Frank Müller (Universität Bremen)

Paper short abstract:

What are the points of view of police officers when they are confronted with cultural others? How do they decide who is controlled and searched and who can pass? In my paper I present first results of my research project on transcultural competence within the police in Bremen.

Paper long abstract:

Official representatives of the police state cultural diversity a major challenge for the daily work of police officers. A central concern is to get in contact with minority communities and build up trust in the institutions of security. In contrast to the general principles there are many reports of police officers discriminating against people because of their nationality, ethnicity or simply their colour of skin. This gap between official mission statements and daily practise has been analysed by several scholars as the outcome of two different organisational cultures within the police: as opposition of managers and street cops (Reuss-Ianni 1983, Behr 2006). In my paper I argue that this result of determination is too simple. Racism is not the fault of the rank and file, but has to be analysed within the dimensions of structure of the institutions of security, agency of different actors in this field and representation of cultural difference in the society.

As an anthropologist from outside I had the chance to evaluate an intercultural training program for police officers in Bremen. I joined discussions about what is perceived as difficult about difference of culture in the daily work of contact policemen in Bremen. My paper informs of which structural impediments have been appointed, what personal agencies can be described and which stereotypes and predicaments dominate the discourse in urban society.

Panel P067
Security and citizenship (Peace and Conflict Studies in Anthropology Network)