Accepted Paper:

The police reform in Georgia: creation of boundaries in a post-revolutionary country  


Lili Di Puppo (National Research University Higher School of Economics)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines how the revamped police apparatus in post-revolutionary Georgia has played a central role in creating new social boundaries, categories and types. It analyses how the state defines itself as a “legal-rational domain” through the war that is waged against criminals.

Paper long abstract:

The paper will examine the period of the presidency of Mikheil Saakashvili (2003-2012) in Georgia and analyse the central role played by the revamped police apparatus in the construction of new social boundaries, categories and types. The paper studies the police apparatus under the aspect of production instead of repression (Wacquant 2009) as a state-crafting exercise. The creation of a patrol police in 2004 in Georgia composed of young, professional and non-corrupt recruits has rapidly become the symbol of a new Westernising nation in contrast to the old policemen as representatives of the failed Georgian state of the 1990s. Furthermore, the war on crime which was waged against the notorious Soviet-era criminals "thieves-in-law" has also had the effect of opposing two different normative models of Georgianness: the anti-state criminal mentality of Soviet times against the model of the loyal and professional civil servant. The reassertion of the state as a "legal-rational domain" through anti-corruption measures has as a result the creation of new spaces of criminality and marginality, particularly the rising importance of the prison space. Paradoxically, the creation of these areas that are not in the public gaze allow the recourse to a notion of "legal lawlessness" (Jobard 2012) or "state of exception" and the emergence of extra-legal practices performed by the law-enforcement agencies. While the state is represented as a "legal-rational domain" in the official rhetoric, the police ultimately engages in unlawful behaviours through the constitution of criminal domains.

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