Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Paper:

The Labor of Command: Training, Heteromasculinity, and Anti-Blackness in U.S. Policing  
Jessica Katzenstein

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how U.S. police officers are trained to embody “command presence,” the unspoken language of state authority. I argue that analyzing the labor of command illuminates the tensions of embodying state power, and suggests possibilities for transforming police violence.

Paper long abstract:

Advocates of U.S. police reform often argue for improved de-escalation trainings, understood to lessen violence by teaching officers to preempt and control conflict. Police recruits learn that their elementary tool for doing so is “command presence,” which ideally displays police dominance in the form of demeanor, tone, and attire. By projecting this unspoken language of authority, command presence is designed to nonviolently dissuade civilians from attacking officers. It thus manifests state power. At the same time, command presence signals vulnerability and contingency: it is not innate but rather must be inculcated in trainings, where officers learn that a failure to command obedience can threaten their own bodily survival. In this paper, I draw on 16 months of ethnographic research with police in Maryland to explore the labor of learning to command. I analyze how trainers taught recruits of all genders to cultivate a convincingly dominant heteromasculine affect meant to convey indisputable authority. I also demonstrate how command presence trainings deployed pedagogic common sense to construct a racialized object of control: the poor Black civilian who understands only the language of dominance. I argue that trainings therefore illuminate the tension of personifying the patriarchal control and anti-Black imagination of the state on the one hand, and the embodied fragility of governmental authority on the other. I conclude that examining the everyday work of policing reveals fractures in hegemony, which suggest possibilities for transforming the violence of the state.

Panel P068a
Police officers at work [AnthroState] I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -