Indeterminate Security Governance: US Policing As Pacification

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Markus KIENSCHERF, John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
As security threats in and to Western (neo)liberal regimes are problematized as increasingly ambiguous and amorphous, security ‘solutions’ prescribed to counter perceived insecurities have become more and more indeterminate. The broadening of the concept of security to include an ever-wider array of interlinked risks, insecurities and threats has brought about responses that completely blur what is still left of any boundaries between policing, intelligence operations and warfare. Yet, attempts to critique contemporary (neo)liberal security are still lagging behind, because the scholarly analysis of security continues to be structured by the dichotomy between internally pacified state territory where security is enforced by the police and the sphere of international relations where at least a semblance of security is provided by the armed forces.

This paper will argue that contemporary (neo)liberal security governance is best understood as a form of pacification. Pacification combines risk management and sovereign violence into a political technology for reproducing a racial and class order formatted according to the imperatives of capital accumulation through the selective and differential targeting of particular populations and spaces. This political technology aims to (re)produce more pliable populations through a combination of coercion and consent, while trying to weed out those who are deemed recalcitrant to (neo)liberal rule. Pacification, moreover, highlights the complex cross-fertilizations of security governance across metropole and colony.

This paper will use the analytic of pacification to discuss how US domestic policing has been and continues to be shaped by experiences of foreign security governance. Thus, the paper will, on the one hand, show the critical force and explanatory value of the analytic of pacification through a genealogy of US domestic practices of policing; while trying to bridge some of the disciplinary divides between critical security studies, on the one hand, and research into domestic urban policing, on the other.