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Race and Policing in the Americas Seminar Series

Autumn/Fall 2021

This online international seminar series, hosted by the Centre for the Americas and The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast – in conjunction with the Cultures of War research group at New York University – examines the complex relationship between race, class and policing in the Americas. One jumping off point is the police killings of black men and women in the contemporary US and Brazil which in turn brings into focus the legacies and consequences of this violence and its centrality to historical understandings of the state. Another is the various strategies of resistance employed by activists at a local, national and global level. Participants will explore these issues as a set of contemporary phenomena tied to the militarization and privatization of policing and/or as part of a longer historical continuum linked to the founding of the state and the consolidation of modern capitalism. These contributions will focus exclusively on individual states and regions or offer comparative, transnational perspectives. As well as exploring the complex entanglements between race, class, policing, capital and the state historically and in the contemporary, participants may explore the representation of these entanglements in fiction and non-fiction and consider how effectively particular genres can interrogate the problem of racialised policing and agitate for wider social justice and political change.
The seminar series will be hosted online using Zoom webinar. Please sign up to the panels using the EVENTBRITE links below. You will be contacted with Zoom login details a few days prior to the events.

Race, Class, and Policing in the Americas: The Case of the US South

Thursday 7 October                                4pm BST time (UK); 11am EST
Myisha Eatmon (University of South Carolina)
Myisha is Assistant Professor of African American History at the University of South Carolina. Her research explores Black legal culture in the face of white-on-Black violence under Jim Crow and Black civil litigation’s impact on civil law. Her activism and interest in social justice drives this research, which focuses on the ways that oppressed persons, particularly African Americans, use their legal imaginations. Her book on the subject is tentatively titled Litigating in Black and White: Black Legal Culture, White Violence, Jim Crow, and Their Legacies.
Justin Randolph (Texas State University)
Justin is Assistant Professor of History at Texas State University. Specializing in nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. social and political history, his primary research concerns the intersection of policing and inequality in the rural American South. His first book, Mississippi Law: The Long Crisis of Policing and Reform in America's Black Countryside, is under advance contract with the University of North Carolina Press.
Christopher is a civil rights attorney in Columbia, South Carolina. He has twenty-five years of experience handling criminal defense, police misconduct, and class action suits against adult and juvenile correctional systems. He does public presentations on these and related topics, including an upcoming seminar on the current state of policing for the South Carolina Bar Association in January 2022.
Chair: Keira Williams (Queen’s University Belfast)

Race and Policing in the Americas Seminar Series Keynote Lecture

Wednesday 20 October                               7pm BST time (UK); 2pm EST
The Shape of the Whole, Or, the There There.
Micol Seigel (Indiana University)
Recent work on policing has shifted the focus of carceral studies from prisons to the mechanisms that fill them.  Abolitionist scholar-activists now include police in their sights as a matter of course.  Seigel takes this broadening of vision a step farther to look at another isle of the carceral archipelago—or a submerged crag of the iceberg—that too often evades critical focus.
Micol is Professor of American Studies and History at Indiana University Bloomington. She is the author of Uneven Encounters: Making Race and Nation in Brazil and the United States (Duke UP 2009) and editor of Panic, Transnational Cultural Studies, and the Affective Contours of Power (Routledge 2018). In her most recent book, Violence Works: State Power and the Limits of the Police (Duke UP 2018) she offers a new theorization of the quintessential incarnation of state power: the police. Foregrounding the interdependence of policing, the state, and global capital, Seigel redefines policing as “violence work,” showing how it is shaped by its role of channeling state violence.
Chair: Andrew Pepper (Queen’s University Belfast)
Available to watch from 2- to 27 October         
Police Killing (Auto de Resistência) is a 2018 Brazilian documentary, directed by Natasha Neri and Lula Carvalho, about homicides committed by on duty police officers in Rio de Janeiro, in situations initially considered as legitimate self-defense. The dead person is accused of being a drug dealer and having fired against the police.
However, the officers' account is confronted by the emergence of videos and the fight of mothers who try to prove their sons were innocent. The film portrays the clash of versions in court hearings, the backstage of police investigations and the State Parliamentary Inquiry Committee established to investigate the high rates of homicides during police operations.
The film won the prize for best feature at the It's All True - International Documentary Film Festival in 2018 as well as being nominated for the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA)’s Amsterdam Human Rights Award.
Trailer with English subtitles
Read more about the film in English and Portuguese.
A link to watch the film (in Portuguese with English subtitles) will be sent to your email address on 20 October 2021. The film can be watched online until 27 October.
On October 27 at 4pm UK time the film's director Natasha Neri will take part in a panel discussion on 'Perspectives on Police Violence in Brazil: Data, Documentary, Ethnography' with other speakers.

Perspectives on Police Violence in Brazil: Data, Documentary, Ethnography

Wednesday 27 October                               4pm BST (UK); 11am EST; 12noon Rio/São Paulo
Christen Smith is Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work examines engendered anti-Black state violence and Black community responses to it in Brazil and the Americas. Her book, Afro-Paradise: Blackness, Violence, Performance in Brazil (U of Illinois Press 2016), uses the lens of performance to examine the immediate and long-term impact of police violence on the Black population of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil and the grassroots movement to denounce and end this violence. Her more recent, comparative work examines the lingering, deadly impact of police violence on black women in Brazil and the U.S. 
Natasha Neri is a journalist, filmmaker and researcher in the areas of criminal justice and human rights. Together with Lula Carvalho she directed the documentary Auto de Resistência (in English, Police Killing) which won the prize for best feature at the It's All True - International Documentary Film Festival in 2018 as well as being nominated for the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA)’s Amsterdam Human Rights Award. Currently a researcher for the Association for Prevention of Torture (APT), she has previously worked for Amnesty International Brazil, ISER (Institute of Studies on Religion), and NECVU/UFRJ (Centre for the Study of Citizenship, Conflict and Urban Violence, at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro). She is involved in and supports movements for de-incarceration, anti-violence, and relatives of victims of state violence in Rio de Janeiro.  
Pedro Paulo da Silva holds a B.A. In International Relations from the Pontiical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), where he is currently pursuing a master's degree in the same field of study. He is part of the research team at the Centre for Security and Citizenship Studies (CESeC) and the research coordinator of LabJaca – the Laboratory of Data and Narratives from Jacarezinho, a favela in Rio de Janeiro. His main research interests are the relation between race and racism and public/global security, policing and anti-radicalism, and the citizen generation of data.
Chair: Tori Holmes (Queen’s University Belfast)

Crime Fiction, Policing and Racial Injustice

Wednesday 10 November                              6pm GMT (UK); 1pm EST; 10 Pacific.

This session will run for around 1.5 hours.

In this panel session, Frankie Bailey, a renowned criminal justice academic and crime novelist, Steph Cha, crime novelist and winner of the 2019 LA Book Prize, and academic and pop culture expert David Schmid discuss the capacities of crime fiction to critically reflect on the failures of policing in the US and the ongoing search for racial justice. The issue of whether a form or genre given over to the investigation of crime and that aims to give readers answers and resolutions can get to grips with the brokenness of the justice system will be discussed. As will the question of how to portray the police and policing in light of the killing of unarmed black men and women – and whether the traditional police procedural form is fit for purpose.

The roundtable discussion will last for about an hour. In the final 30 minutes, Steph Cha will read from her 2019 prize-winning novel Your House Will Pay and will answer questions about it.

Frankie Y Bailey (SUNY Albany)
Frankie is Professor of Criminal Justice in the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs at SUNY Albany. As well as being a prolific academic whose work explores the intersections of crime, social history and popular culture, including Out of the Woodpile: Black Characters Crime and Detective Fiction (1991), she is the author of two separate crime fiction series, including one set in the near-future police procedural series: The Red Queen Dies (2013) and What the Fly Saw (2015). 
David Schmid (SUNY Buffalo)
David is Associate Professor of English at SUNY Buffalo. His research focuses on Americans’ unusual fascination with murder and murderers and the development of the popular culture of true crime in the U.S. He is the author of the book Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture (U of Chicago Press 2005) as well as numerous edited books, anthologies and essays on crime fiction, urban studies, horror and masculinity.
Steph is the author of Your House Will Pay (2019), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the California Book Award, and the Juniper Song crime trilogy. She is a critic whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, where she served as noir editor, and is the current series editor of the Best American Mystery & Suspense anthology. 
Chair: Andrew Pepper (Queen’s University Belfast)
Steph Cha will read from and answer questions about Your House Will Pay at the end of the roundtable discussion.

Race and Policing in the Americas Closing Roundtable

Thursday 9 December                              5.30 - 7pm GMT (UK); 12.30 - 2pm EST

On Zoom:

In this roundtable discussion (Via Zoom), Sonia Das (Linguistic Anthopology, NYU), Gabriella Johnson (English, NYU), Stuart Schrader (Africana Studies and Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship, Johns Hopkins) and Nikhil Singh (Social and Cultural Analysis, History and Prison Education Program, NYU) will share their research on race, policing, mass incarceration and prison abolitionism in the United States and beyond. The panelists will explore how research undertaken and disseminated in different contexts (both within and outside of universities in the wake of Black Lives Matter movement and other protest movements) and across diverse approaches (policing, carceral studies, technology, prison education, literary and cultural studies, and scholar-activism) can contribute to raising critical awareness of police violence and mass incarceration.

Sonia Das (New York University)
Sonia is Associate Professor of Linguistic Anthropology at New York University and Co-Editor-In-Chief of the flagship Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. She is the author of Linguistic Rivalries: Tamil Migrants and Anglo-Franco Conflicts (Oxford UP 2016), a study of the migration and diasporic experiences of Tamil-speaking Indians and Sri Lankans since the 1840s. Her current research examines how the big data of body-worn camera and predictive policing perpetuates racial inequities in U.S. law enforcement. 
Gabriella I. Johnson (New York University) Gabriella I. Johnson is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at NYU, where her research and teaching focuses on African American literature, Black feminist theories, and prison abolitionist thought. She is currently writing her dissertation on 20th-century African American women's fiction as a prison abolitionist imagination.
Stuart Schrader (Johns Hopkins University)
Stuart is Associate Research Professor in the Center for Africana Studies and the Associate Director of the Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship. He is the author of Badges Without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing (U of California Press, 2019) which looks at the relationship between US projections of power overseas and the rise of the carceral state at home. His new project examines the political activities of police in the United States since the 1960s, via professional organizations and unions. 
Nikhil Singh (New York University)
Nikhil is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History and Faculty Director of NYU’s Prison Education Program. A historian of race, empire, and culture in the 20th-century United States, Singh is the author of Race and America’s Long War (U of California Press 2017) and the award-winning, Black Is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy (Harvard UP 2004). A new book Exceptional Empire: Race, Colonialism and the Origins of US Globalism is in-progress, and forthcoming from Harvard University Press.
Moderated by Patrick Deer (New York University)
Patrick Deer is Associate Professor of English at NYU and co-organizer of the NYU Cultures of War and the Postwar research group. He published a scholarly book about war writing and war culture in World War II, Culture in Camouflage: War, Empire and Modern British Literature (Oxford University Press, 2009; paperback ed. 2016). His current book project is We Are All Embedded: Understanding American War Culture Since 9/11.
The organisers – Tori Holmes, Keira Williams and Andrew Pepper (all QUB) and Patrick Deer (NYU) – would like to thank the School of Arts, English and Languages, the School of History, Anthropology, Politics and Philosophy, and The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice (all QUB) and the Department of English (NYU) for the financial assistance that has made this seminar series possible.