Police and policing in geography: From methods, to theory, to praxis

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12 Scopus citations


Despite the fact that any semblance of a “police studies” in geography is relatively recent, with calls for its development and expansion still being made in the literature today, geographers have nevertheless made important contributions to how scholars understand police and policing as a multifaceted manifestation of state power, coercion, and territoriality. Given the formative contributions that have already been made, and with promises of increased scholarly activity to come, there remains much opportunity for geography to become the go-to social scientific discipline for translating theory into action and advanced methods into practice. This is particularly so given heightened and widespread credence to the concept of defunding policing as we know it in the wake of continued and increasingly ruthless killings by police across the United States. In this article on police and policing in geography, I trace the brief history of a police studies, highlighting recent and contemporary contributions to its progress through critical examinations of community-, border-, affective-, and insidious-policing practices. Finally, I conclude with a brief discussion about how a police/policing studies can move forward as a durable geographical sub-field vis-à-vis greater inclusion of would-be scholars for whom being policed has been a lived experience that has resulted in personal encounters with hyper-criminalization, displacement, expulsion, un-homing, and incarceration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12555
JournalGeography Compass
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • carcerality
  • police
  • police studies
  • policing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Social Sciences
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Atmospheric Science


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