Abstract

The empirical work of conflict theorists has yielded inconsistent results concerning whether the American justice system evinces racial biases in practices and outcomes. These fickle findings may result from undertheorized conceptualizations of race that fail to account for the ways races and genders can be destabilized and refashioned during volatile interactions. Using intersectionality, affect, and assemblage theories, I analyze a video of a stop and frisk in Philadelphia in 2013 and argue that these ritualistic conflicts between officers and citizens destabilize and proliferate racial and gender categories, clothing police in blue flesh and thereby granting them political status as more-than-humans. While the logics that define and defend police violence—namely, misogyny, social violence, and racism—may deleteriously affect certain social and economic classes more than others, the ways blue flesh reconfigures police officers as more-than-humans demand renewed theoretical imagination and methodological innovation concerning the operationalization of racial variables.

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