Afterlives of Police Reforms


What do police do with reform, and what does reform do to police and the public, if not preventing violence? My book project, Force Experts: Afterlives of Police Reforms in Turkey, addresses this question through an ethnography of the European-Union inspired police reforms in Turkey at a time when police violence is on the global agenda. Rather than addressing police reforms as a matter of success or failure, the project explores the kind of subjectivities and socialities brought forth by such reform efforts among both police and the public. Drawing on 18 months of Wenner-Gren Foundation funded fieldwork (between 2015-2017) on so-called non-violent tools and practices of police reform, the project demonstrates how an ostensible aspiration for democratization and human rights can also provide governing regimes with a new toolkit to extend their power into novel social domains, manufacture legally-sanctioned impunity, and garner popular support. Force Experts theorizes police violence not only in terms of brute force but also as violence of abstraction, reform, and state care, and foregrounds the actual effects of transnational circulation of policing and security expertise.

Key Publications

Citizen Forces: The politics of community policing in Turkey” (2020). American Ethnologist. 47(1): 27-42.

American Ethnological Society Interview on Citizen Forces (2020). Features. American Ethnologist, August 28, 2020.

An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove’: Topologies of Policing and the Limits of Exposé” (2020) Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (online edition), special issue on Police Geographies.

Proactive Policing and Emerging Geographies of Surveillance in Turkey” (2020). Middle East Brief, Crown Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Brandeis University.

Proportioning Violence: Ethnographic Notes on the Contingencies of Police Reform” (2018) Anthropology Today. 34(1): 11-14.