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Policing in Colonial Empires

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


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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The idea for the present edited volume emerged from an international conference organized in Brussels in December 2013. The editors would like to thank all the participants for their insights and debate contributions, as well as Margo De Koster for her involvement and support. The conference benefited from the financial, scientific, and logistic support of the following institutions: the Center for Sociological Research on Law and Criminal Justice Institutions (CESDIP-CNRS) and the University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (UVSQ); the Free University of Brussels (ULB) and the Mondes Modernes et Contemporains Research Center; the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV); the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS) and the Belgian Interuniversity Attraction Pole “Justice and Populations”. The conference also marked the culmination of a three-year effort by an interdisciplinary and collaborative research network on the history of colonial and postcolonial policing, co-initiated with Connor O’Reilly, Georgina Sinclair, and Chris Williams, and generously supported by the GERN (Groupe Européen de Recherches sur les Normativités). Last but not least, François-Xavier Priour has been of great help in revising and editing the manuscript. ← 7 | 8 →

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