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Policing in Colonial Empires

Cases, Connections, Boundaries (ca. 1850–1970)

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Edited By Emmanuel Blanchard, Marieke Bloembergen and Amandine Lauro

Colonial security strategies and the postcolonial vestiges they left both in the global South and in former metropoles have recently attracted renewed academic attention. Policing in Colonial Empires is a collection of essays reflecting current, ongoing research and exploring the multifaceted dynamics of policing in colonial societies over the past two centuries. Spanning several continents and colonial contexts (some of them liminal or little-explored), the book examines the limits and legitimacies of the functioning of colonial policing. Addressing issues such as collaboration, coercion, violence, race, and intelligence, the collected works ask what exactly was colonial about colonial policing. Together, the contributors point out the complex nature of colonial law and order maintenance, and provide insights on histories that might reflect the legacies of its many variants.

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From Cooperation to Neocolonialism: Colonial Police and International Policing, 1920-1960 (Robert Whitaker)

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From Cooperation to Neocolonialism

Colonial Police and International Policing, 1920-1960

Robert WHITAKER

Formal international police organizations – including the International Police Conference, Interpol, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) – were founded during the opening decades of the twentieth century, and reflected the causes and concerns of Europe and the United States.1 From their inceptions these organizations maintained global pretentions, but these were rarely fulfilled. For instance, Interpol remained primarily a European organization until the 1960s, while the International Police Conference was dominated by the United States and attempted to use a token Canadian and Mexican presence as a stand in for the rest of the world. Furthermore, few of the police officers that participated in these organizations could claim to have any international experience whatsoever – either by working in another country or through contact with foreign police. Most of the members of the International Police Conference and IACP were police commissioners and officers from small towns in North America – men who had not seen their own state capital, let alone another country. The members of Interpol, on the other hand, could claim some international experience within Europe, but only rarely did this experience extend beyond even Western European countries.2

This lack of international experience and global reach among police in Europe and the United States, however, did not mean that such skills were entirely lacking from police on the world stage. In particular, the British Empire...

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