For the last decade and more, popular outrage at police brutality has driven mass protests in both the Middle East and the West. Opposition to police excesses—from crackdowns on protests in Egypt and Iraq to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020—has highlighted the need for change. 

In this episode of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship”—the new season of Order from Ashes— anthropologist Hayal Akarsu and sociologist Alex Vitale argue that policing crises around the globe are connected; that is, they are all part of one broad crisis with different local permutations. These permutations may include repressive political policing, long-term corruption and ineffectiveness, everyday policing, or a combination of these, as well as economic factors such as increasing inequality. As awareness of the climate crisis deepens, the role of police in protecting corporate interests may become an increasingly prominent feature of the crisis of policing legitimacy. 

Police reform is, more than ever before, a global industry, which circulates experts, tools, standards, models, and training programs. As such, police reform is a key part of foreign policy initiatives, diplomacy efforts, and development programs. A transnational framework enables us to see these connections.

This podcast is part of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship: Authoritarianism and the Emerging Global Culture of Resistance,” a TCF project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Open Society Foundations. 

Participants include:

  • Hayal Akarsu, assistant professor of anthropology, Utrecht University
  • Alex Vitale, professor of sociology, Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center
  • Naira Antoun, director, Transnational Trends in Citizenship, Century International