Abstract

Abstract:

This essay invokes performance theory about liveness and mortality to consider the relentlessness of police violence in the contemporary United States. Shifting among analytical, expository, and ethnographic modes of writing, the author considers officer weapons training as a form of dramaturgy that sets the stage for such violence to unfold, and then turns to the practice of civilian oversight to examine how communities have attempted to effect change in the culture of policing. Anderson draws from his service on an oversight board in San Diego, California, using this experience to highlight uncomfortable moments when police rhetoric echoes or evokes the vocabulary of performance theory, and asks: Just as performance theory might have something to teach us about policing, what might policing have to teach us about performance theory? And should these overlaps prompt us to reexamine our disciplinary vocabularies? In response, the essay argues that police “accountability” and “transparency” operate, in the current system, like theatrical devices designed to distract from the relentlessness of police violence—indeed, from the intensity with which police violence occupies the very heart of contemporary policing.

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-332X
Print ISSN
0192-2882
Pages
pp. 533-549
Launched on MUSE
2022-01-24
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.