Accepted paper:

Urban counter-terror policing as emergent security governance in Ghana


Maya Mynster Christensen (Royal Danish Defence College)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how Ghanaian police officers engage in practices of bordering, as they seek to prevent and preempt threats linked to radicalization and violent extremism, and how counter-terror policing is productive of urban security governance in Accra.

Paper long abstract:

Policing and the control of borders, previously concentrated at territorial edges of states, are currently disaggregated and delocalized away from national borders. Most significantly in this regard, national borders increasingly expand into and take effect in the city. Urgent insider threats associated with organized crime and terrorism have turned the city into the key location for interventions targeting populations who are 'at risk' of being mobilized into violent or extremist networks. The apparently diffuse, hybrid and complex nature of these threats has activated fear and anxiety linked to specific populations and places perceived to threaten urban orders and given rise to changing forms of urban security governance. This paper suggests that urban policing is principally a practice of spatial and relational bordering. Based on fieldwork among police officers in Accra, the paper illuminates how these practices of bordering are articulated in the translation and implementation of the national action plan for counter-terrorism. Focusing on how police officers' tacit knowledge informs policing of urban spaces when they, for instance, interpret suspicious signs and warning signals and collect intelligence on the flow of arms and ammunition, the paper analyzes the ways in which the prevention and preemption of violent extremism is productive of aspired urban orders.

panel Anth04
Urban policing and production of the city