This panel explores the mutually productive and ever-evolving relationship of the police and the city in urban Africa. It focuses on how spatial, temporal, economic and political particularities of cities facilitate and hinder police practices, organization and interaction with the public.
African cities are expanding, creating new possibilities for growth and development, but also social ruptures and new forms of insecurity. This panel explores policing in urban Africa, zooming in on how the city is reshaping police work, and in turn how police work is part of producing the city. Approaching urban policing as a practice of ordering, understood as a spatial and relational practice that is informed by material, imaginary and affective manifestations, we invite papers that investigate the mutually productive relationship of policing and the city. From state to street level, police forces in African cities engage in multiple processes and practices of urban ordering, which shape the circulations of people and goods in the city. At the same time, the particularities of cities (spatial, temporal, economic and political) facilitate and hinder police practices, organization and interaction with the public. In turn, the police via its order-making practices attempts to shape circulations of people and goods in the city space, sometimes driven by fear for their own lives, and often conditioned by limits on available resources, e.g., for transportation, salaries and logistics/infrastructures. These limitations often require collaboration with a wide range of actors, including traditional leaders and youth groups. How do police actors perceive of and negotiate their role in processes of urban ordering? How do defining features of the city inform order-making attempts by the police? And how do practices of policing structure and produce urban dis/orders? Papers that engage such questions theoretically, conceptually and methodologically are encouraged.