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From Ethnography to Ethno-Graphic: Representing the Work of the Police Graphic from "La force de l'ordre. Une enquête ethno-graphique," Didier Fassin, Frédéric Debomy and Jake Raynal (Seuil/Delcourt, 2020). Used with permission.

From Ethnography to Ethno-Graphic: Representing the Work of the Police

Black Lives Matter: Global Perspectives Webinar Series

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During the 15 months between the death of Zyed Benna and Bouna Traore and subsequent unrest in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois in 2005, and the deaths of the adolescents Moushin and Laramy and subsequent uprising in another Paris suburb, Villiers-le-Bel, in 2007, Dider Fassin conducted research on police work in poor neighborhoods on the outskirts of Paris. His research focused on the everyday life of the dreaded anti-crime squads, ordinary racial discrimination and the banality of violence.


This research was initially translated into a book ("Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing," Polity, 2013), as can be expected from an ethnography, and more recently, into comics that comprise an ethno-graphic ("La force de l’ordre. Une enquête ethno-graphique," Seuil/Delcourt, 2020).


Fassin's lecture will reflect on the variations in representation of this research as it related to the chosen form, and on their echoes in the public sphere as events involving police abuses unfold.




Didier Fassin, James D. Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, and Annual Chair in Public Health, Collège de France, is an anthropologist and a sociologist who has conducted fieldwork in Senegal, Ecuador, South Africa and France. Trained as a physician in internal medicine and public health, he dedicated his early research to medical anthropology, focusing on the AIDS epidemic and health inequalities. He later developed the field of critical moral anthropology, which explores the historical, social, and political signification of moral forms involved in everyday judgment and action, as well as in the making of national policies and international relations.


Didier Fassin. (Photo: Institute of Advanced Study.) Fassin has also carried out an ethnography of the state, through a study of urban policing and the prison system. His recent work is on the theory of punishment, the politics of life and the public presence of the social sciences, which he presented for the Tanner Lectures, the Adorno Lectures  and at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, respectively. A recipient of the Nomis Distinguished Scientist Award, he is currently involved in a global program on crises, examining in particular the cases of migrants and refugees. For his course at the Collège de France, he explores contemporary stakes in public health, with special reference to the coronavirus pandemic.


He regularly contributes to newspapers such as Le Monde and magazines such as the London Review of Books. His recent books include "Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present" (2011), "Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing" (2013), "At the Heart of the State: The Moral World of Institutions" (2015), "Prison Worlds: An Ethnography of the Carceral Condition" (2016), "The Will to Punish" (2018), "Life: A Critical User's Manual" (2018), and "Death of a Traveller: A Counter Investigation" (forthcoming 2021).

Aslı Ü. Bâli is Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law and Faculty Director of the UCLA Law Promise Institute for Human Rights. Her principal scholarly interests lie in two areas: public international law—including human rights law and the law of the international security order—and comparative constitutional law, with a focus on the Middle East.

Aomar Boum is Associate Professor at UCLA Department of Anthropology. He is a socio-cultural anthropologist with a historical bent concerned with the social and cultural representation of and political discourse about religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East and North Africa.

Organizers: UCLA International Institute; UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies; Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy

Center for Social Medicine and the Humanities (Semel Institute), David Geffen School of Medicine; Global Health Program, David Geffen School of Medicine; UCLA Department of Anthropology


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Duration: 01:42:45



Laurie Hart 0:00

Welcome and good morning. My name is Laurie Hart and I'm Professor of Anthropology and I direct the Center for European and Russian Studies. Before I begin my introductions, I want to say that UCLA, as a land grant institution, acknowledges our presence on the traditional ancestral and unceded territory of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples, the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar, the Los Angeles Basin and Channel Islands. On behalf of UCLA's International Institute, it's my great pleasure to welcome you all this morning to the event with Professor Didier Fassin. Professor Fassin is James D. Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Director of Studies in Political and Moral Anthropology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and the Chair of Public Health at the Collège de France. Professor Fassin's visit is co-organized by the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, home to the year long Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar Sanctuary Spaces: Reworlding Humanism. This seminar is a comparative and historical inquiry of the terms on which the liberal democracies of the West recognize and include racial others. And their focus this quarter is on quote, "the end of humanitarianism," close quote. Didier Fassin's pathbreaking work on humanitarian reason is of course pivotal for this framework. So today's event is part of a series that we began to organize last summer, inspired by the massive global movement for Black lives, and the urgent political issues it raises about systemic racism, and institutional violence, and in particular police brutality and mass incarceration in the US and the world. Given both the global history and the contemporary sweep of racial capitalism, an international perspective is fundamental to understanding police violence in the US. Today's presentation turns to the absolutely critical task of understanding police violence comparatively and ethnographically. That is through the daily life and practice of policing. Didier Fassin's remarkable shadowing of the police as they operate in immigrant and working class neighborhoods of the Paris suburbs is critical to this. Political mobilization for policy reform depends on the kind of lucid grasp of both intimate facts on the ground and the macro big picture context that Fassin's in-depth examination provides. It's exciting that this is now taking the form not only of a first class anthropological ethnography, but also of a clear and popularly accessible graphic narrative, otherwise previously known as a comic book. It's impossible to do justice in my time limits to Professor Fassin's magisterial corpus of research and publications. And it's very humbling to read his CV that lists more than 14 books, innumerable articles, and multiple awards, among them in 19 -- in 2019, the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing for his book Prison Worlds: An Ethnography of the Carceral Condition. As a physician, scholar, activist, and public intellectual on several continents, he's made immense contributions to the social sciences and applied clinical medicine and health policy. Our moderator will say a little bit more about this, but for now, let me say that we're just an amazingly lucky to have Professor Fassin with us today. Let me briefly thank many of our wonderful collaborators, and please forgive me for the many names. Professor Fassin draws a crowd. And so because so many of us have been influenced by his work and leadership. We're very grateful to Ananya Roy, Director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy, and to Postdoctoral Fellow Veronica Zablocki, who's very generously monitoring our Q&A behind the scenes, as well as to Events and Program Manager Vania Sciolini for this and future collaborations. I want to give a special thanks to our International Institute Senior Associate Vice Provost and Director Chris Erickson, and Vice Provost Cindy Fan, who both strongly supported this first ever collaboration among the Institute's many centers and programs. Also to my wonderful colleagues on the organizing committee, including Jorge Maturano, Robin Derby, Shana Potts, Ippy Kalofonos, Alden Young, Erica Anjum, and the chair of our group, Jennifer Chun. We are, as always, indebted to the amazing staff at the Institute that keeps us running every day despite the pandemic: Kathryn Paul, Peggy McInerney, Kaya Mentesoglu, Alex Zhu, Oliver Chien, Chloe Hiuga and Steven Acosta, as well as at CERS: Liana Grancea and Sanja Lacan. Today's event is co-sponsored by our partners the Center for Social Medicine and the Humanities at the Semel Institute, the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA Law, the David Geffen Program in Global Health, and the Department of Anthropology.

Laurie Hart 5:20

Now, let me turn to our moderator, Dr. Ippolytus Kalofonos. Dr. Kalofonos is a practicing psychiatrist and a medical anthropologist. He's an Assistant Professor in the UCLA Center for Social Medicine and the Humanities, the International Institute, and the Department of Psychiatry at the West LA Veterans Administration Medical Center. He's currently conducting clinical and ethnographic research with veterans experiencing homelessness and psychosis. Let me just say that his book titled All I Eat Is Medicine: Going Hungry in Mozambique's AIDS Economy is due out in August 2021 from UC Press. Thank you so much. Again, I want to thank Professor Fassin for being here and turn the screen to Professor Kalofonos.

Ippolytos Kalofonos 6:10

Thank you, Laurie. Our format today will include the speaker's presentation, followed by comments from our respondents, followed by a moderated discussion and Q&A. We asked the attendees submit their questions on the webinar's Q&A, which you will find at the bottom of your screen. Feel free to write questions into the Q&A at any point during the proceedings today, although we will be limited in time, and we will only be able to respond during the webinar to fewer questions than we would like. Your questions are valuable and will be saved for the speakers. A podcast audio recording of the event will also be posted on the International Institute's website. For time's sake, we posted links to the full bios of our distinguished discussants in the group chat, but let me briefly introduce them now. Aslı Bâli is Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law and Faculty Director of the UCLA Law Promise Institute for Human Rights. She works on human rights law and the international security order and war and state violence. She's currently completing a project examining the post-Cold War erosion of the United States Charter Prohibition on the Use of Force. Our colleague Aomar Boum is Associate Professor of Anthropology at UCLA. A specialist on ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East and North Africa, he is the author of Memories of Absence: How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco. He is currently finishing a graphic history in collaboration with the Algerian French-American artist Niyadi Berber entitled Undesirables about a German refugee during World War Two. Let me now turn to our main speaker. It is truly an honor to introduce Didier Fassin, whose scholarship has inspired me and integrally shaped my own work on AIDS treatment in Mozambique, and now on homelessness and mental illness in the United States. Across an impressive breadth of projects in diverse locations Fassin has examined the mechanisms that perpetuate, in his words, "the inequality of lives in the contemporary world." Professor Fassin initially trained as a physician, practiced internal medicine, and taught public health before turning to the social sciences. His early studies in medical anthropology focused on issues of power and inequality in Senegal, Ecuador, and France. This work highlighted the ways discourses of culture within the social sciences and public health obscure social inequalities and political violence. His research on the politics and experiences of AIDS in South Africa led him to develop a conceptual framework that he called the embodiment of history to account for the reproduction of social disparities and the role of politics in the production of interpretations of the HIV epidemic. A former vice-president of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Fassin launched a study of humanitarianism in various international contexts, articulating a politics of life that illustrated the ways humanitarian action can displace a politics of justice and perpetuate the inequality of lives. The work that he will share with us today emerged from a 10-year immersive project on the French state in the fields of the police, justice, and prison. He has increasingly shared his -- this work via popular media, and we are excited to hear more today about his thoughts on the public presence of the social sciences. Please join me in welcoming Didier Fassin for From Ethnography to Ethno-Graphic: Representing the Work of the Police.

Didier Fassin 9:43

Okay, can you see the slides? Can you hear me?

Laurie Hart 9:49

Yes, we can.

Didier Fassin 9:50

Okay. So thank you very much for your invitation, Laurie, and, and thank you, Ippolytos, for your introduction. I'm very happy to be speaking to this audience at UCLA. And it was, for me, an opportunity to present for the first time to an audience some of the graphic elements and reflections around the transformation of study -- an ethnographic study into an ethno-graphic experiment. So, this is the first time I I, I present it and I will be very happy to receive your comments and your criticisms. So.

Didier Fassin 10:56

Excuse me.

Didier Fassin 11:09

Excuse me-- some technical issues that I have to, to solve it. So, a few months after I had began my, in May 2006, my ethnography of policing in the urban outskirts of Paris, so-called riots broke out in housing projects after the deaths of Zyed and Bouna, two adolescents, electrocuted as fleeing the police. They had hidden in an electric -- electrical substation. The officers who had chased them belonged to units of the same kind as the ones I was spending most of my time patrolling disadvantaged neighborhoods, the dreaded anti-crime squads. They wear plain clothes, drive unmarked cars, and boast being the toughest in law enforcement. Although the youths were simply coming home from a soccer game, and had never had dealings with the police, the Minister of Interior Nicolas Sarkozy described them as delinquents, and before an official investigation was even carried out, he exonerate-exonerated the officers. His lack of compassion for the family, his absolution in anticipation of the police, and on top of it all, in the following days, the throw of a grenade in a nearby mosque, inflamed the situation. Unrest started all over the country, with cars burnt to ashes, public buildings destroyed, firemen attacked. At some point, the commissioner who had given me the permission to conduct my research told me to interrupt it, not so much for my safety, I think, as for my witnessing how the police were acting. When I returned to the field a few weeks later, one of the officers I had been patrolling with told me enthusiastically, "It's a shame you were not here. It was practically war." Some months later, I met at a conference in Paris a colleague of mine, who was then at the University of Pennsylvania and is now what UCLA and told him about my research. In the conversation, I mentioned the weeks of upheavals, after the death of Zyed and Bouna. He burst out laughing, saying that in the United States, if they were to be disorders every time someone was killed by the police, the country would be permanently to fire and sword. He was right. And maybe you recognize the, my interlocutor.

Laurie Hart 14:07

For intervening, I'm wondering, are you meaning to be sharing your slides at this point?

Didier Fassin 14:13

You cannot see them?

Laurie Hart 14:15

No. So I think you just need to make a slight adjustment and we should be...

Didier Fassin 14:25

That, can you see the title slide?

Laurie Hart 14:27

Ah, not at the moment. The share screen function at the bottom of, um, I think you probably turned it off earlier and we need to turn it back on. That's okay. We just don't want to miss any of the slides. Ah! Now we have it.

Didier Fassin 14:52

Can you have in full or I-

Laurie Hart 14:54

No, we have the, we have the actual desktop right now. There. We have the full. Thank you so much.

Didier Fassin 15:00

Okay. So that was the first slides I wanted to show you about Zyed and Bouna's death in an electrical transformer. And this was the upheaval that started right after, when a grenade was thrown into a mosque, which you can see in the first of the, of the drawings. And this is the, the one I'm, I'm in now.

Didier Fassin 15:37


Didier Fassin 15:42

I was referring to that colleague from University of Pennsylvania who is now at UCLA and, and saying that he was right in commenting on the fact that if there were to be disorders every time someone was killed by the police in the United States, the country would be permanently to fire and sword. At the time, various publications by distinguished sociologists and political scientists have developed explaining, an explanation about why, in contrast to France, the United States did not have riots anymore, mentioning the role of social movements, which had been -- which had promoted non violence repertoires, and of access to courts of law where racial minorities could obtain justice. But six years later, Trayvon Martin was shot down. The following year, George Zimmerman was acquitted. The next year, Michael Brown and Eric Garner were killed by the police. Protests multiplied all over the country. Black Lives Matter became a major actor in US political life. Police violence and racial discrimination turned into one of the most important issues. If I evoke these anecdotes, it is not to caution social scientists against to good interpretation of social facts. Today, one would have to explain why urban disorders in response to youth belonging to racial minorities being killed by the police happened in the United States and not in France anymore. But to highlight, also, the global circulation of representations, emotions, and mobilizations related to the racially motivated killing by the police. Thus, these representations, emotions, and mobilizations culminated with George Floyd's strangulation. And they also shocked and inspired French activists whose movements gained an unprecedented momentum, in particular, the committee Truth and Justice for Adama, and the lesser degree -- to a lesser degree, Just-Justice for Angelo, in response to the killing of a Roma man, a traveler by the special SWAT-like teams of the Gendarmerie, the GIGN, which I have studied. In my work enforcing order, however, I have not focused on these dramatic moments, but instead on the everyday activity of the police in housing projects and city centers. By pure coincidence, of course, I started my research a few months before the 2005 disorders following the death of Zyed and Bouna in the transformer as they were chased by the police, and ended it a few months before the 2007 disorders following the deaths of Moushin and Larami, two youths knocked down by the, by a police car in circumstances that led many to believe that the accident was on purpose. I had the intuition in this interval of time that the ordinary life of officers on patrol gave clues to the tragedies and the following disorders that interested the media. The main feature of police work is boredom, contrary to its images of relentless action, including among officers themselves, always keen to emphasize the exhilarating moments they have experienced when they talk to their colleague. Boredom is what dominates most of their roaming through their precinct. Far from being this heroic activity dedicated to arresting thieves and thugs, as many imagine they, when they enter the job, law enforcement is generally synonymous with inaction and ennui. The rhythm of their urban ex-expedition resembles more that, more than that of the, more that the episodes of The Wire, which my interlocutor had never heard about, than that of the adventures of the strike team in the shield whose photographs covered the world of their common room.

Didier Fassin 20:26

As has been demonstrated in, in numerous studies worldwide, the time spent effectively responding to calls from the population -- reactive intervention -- is very limited, which obliges beat officers to practice random patrolling in search of suspects -- what is called proactive intervention. It is all the more so that in France, as in many countries, there has been a constant decline in crime, especially in its more serious and spectacular expressions, such as homicides or burglaries. The increase observed for certain offenses corresponding mostly to misdemeanors, including cell phone thefts, or incivilities recently introduced in the law, such as loitering in the lobby of an apartment building. Any description of the police work should therefore start with, with depicting the long eventless days or nights spent driving through the city, and its housing projects, expecting calls that rarely come and often proves to be hoax or errors. With, with for sole encounters, youth of ethnic minorities hanging around in public spaces, immigrants returning home from work, or Roma heading towards their camp, whom they indiscriminately submit to frequent, aggressive, and humiliating stop and frisk in the hope of finding a small bowl of hashish, identifying an undocumented alien, discovering evidence of an improbable larceny, or simply as a way to kill time. In these mundane conditions, minor facts such as the noise pollution caused by your motorcycle or the physical altercation between two adolescents often become major events, generating a flurry of excitement in the crews and inducing disproportionate and inappropriate interventions, which prompt indignation among the local population, and sometimes lead to sudden disturbances. When just juxtaposed with what is known of other countries, this preliminary sketch of urban policing in the French outer cities may seem relatively banal, and in many respects, it is. Studies conducted in North America and Western Europe during the past half century have established the discrepancies between the imagined and actual contents of law enforcement, the targeting of minorities bordering on racial harassment, the exacerbated tension with the inhabitants of disadvantaged neighborhoods. However, France presents two specificities: police have a national organization and security has become a national issue. On the one hand, law enforcement has been essentially conceived since the Ancien Régime as a prerogative of the state, reinforced by the Jacobin policies of the Revolution, and Joseph Fouché's authoritarian centralism under the Empire. The attempts to develop municipal police during the 19th and 20th centuries have largely failed, even if local initiatives have revived this project in recent decades.

Didier Fassin 24:16

That policy is organized on a national basis and is a state prerogative has two important implications for law enforcement. Firstly, the police are recruited on the whole national territory and therefore generally work in places they do not know. Four out of five rural -- of them come from rural areas or small towns, often from White working class families living in de-industrialized zones. Because their career is based on seniority, the first posting they obtain corresponds to the least desirable precincts where they will be working amongst a population mostly of immigrant background, from former French colonies in Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa. The way this public is introduced to them during their training at the academy contributes to the sentiments of strangeness and hostility. Combined with racism they will feel when discovering this new urban environment, they are told that they will work in, what, whether we work with is a jungle was inhabitants are savages. When they start working, they hear their colleagues talk about the youth living in housing projects using the word bastard, as if their origin made them of mixed race and gave them an illegitimate citizenship. Secondly, the police are only accountable to the state, that is concretely to the Minister of the Interior. In other words, their responsibility and commitment are not prioritized towards the population or its elected representatives, as in, as it is in the case -- as is the case in the United States or Britain where the authority of law enforcement is local. In France, mayors who are liable before their constituency not only in terms of security, but also in terms of relationships between institution and the public, are often viewed by officers and commissioners as adversaries, systematic-systematically taking the defense of the inhabitants against the police. This organization of law enforcement has long been presented as guaranteeing national equality of treatment and avoiding local pork barrel politics. But in the past three decades, far from being a neutral and distant entity, the state to which the police are accountable has become increasingly embodied through successive ambitious Ministers of the Interior, who have used them for the promotion of their political career. The ideal of impartiality progressively vanished as law enforcement became an instrument to conquer power. On the other hand, indeed, security issues were imposed on the national political agenda, a phenomenon one can trace back three decades ago, or four perhaps. The historic victory of the Left in the general elections of 1981, after 23 years of conservative domination, provoked a restructuring of the French political landscape, with the rapid rise of the Far Right and the weakening of the traditional Right. The National Front made its success principally on two issues, immigration and security, often mixing the two by presenting immigrants or their children as the major source of insecurity. The response of the police party at the time, the Union for a Popular Movement, later renamed the Union for the Presidential Minority (UMP), thus keeping the same acronym, was to radicalize its discourse, adopting xenophobic themes translated into immigration restrictions, and producing alarmist state-statements about alleged insecurity. Two men, both Ministers of the Interior, were pivotal in this process: Charles Pasqua in the 1990s and Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2000s, the former having been the political mentor of the latter. An insight, the electoral success of the strategy of rejection and fear is undeniable, since the rising of, the raising of immigration and security issues played a decisive role in three consecutive general elections following 17 years of continuous conservative presidency. It is noteworthy that the construction of immigration and security as national priorities, the second taking the precedence over the first in the past decade,

Didier Fassin 29:18

occurred in a period when France was much, was, was much less than other countries subject to objective threats, that of terrorism in particular, this is not the case anymore. When the original book was published, the episode in which I recount entering the office of the anti-crime squad and discovering a large poster of Jean-Marie Le Pen on the back of the door, as you can see here, was taken by French criminologist as a sign that I had studied a very atypical district. But a few years later, polls showed that 52% of the police voted for the National Front. But in the absence of an external enemy, it remained possible to identify an enemy within to substantiate the call for security and related to immigration issues. This discourse justified repressive policies, increasing legal limitations were brought to migratory flows, technologies of border control and identity checking developed, confinement and deportation of undocumented immigrants boomed. But it is on the front of security that the government devoted most, most of its efforts. Crime statistics and public research fell under the sole authority of the Minister of the Interior to allow the mass messaging of data and avoid independent investigations. The police benefited from incremented human and technical resources and special units, the anti-crime squads in particular were created. The judicial system followed the trend, as the legislature voted new laws enlarging the definition of offenses and entering more severe sanctions, while the executive exerted a growing pressure by accusing magistrates of guilty lenient-leniency. These policies were not meant to be implemented everywhere toward everyone. They concerned certain territories and certain populations, geographically the outer cities, so to speak, where their housing -- with their housing projects, and socially the working class youth belonging in majority to ethnic minorities were their main targets. Law enforcement served as the key institution to regulate these territories and tame these populations, partially abandoned by the state, the politics of which had largely contributed to the situation of segregation and stigmatization they were facing. Officers from the anti-crime squad became increasingly open on their Far Right tendencies. In the place where I studied, wearing t-shirts with the Frankish elements, the word "patriots" in Gothic letters, and the number 732 in reference to the date of the problematically famous battle in which Charles Martel stopped the progression of Islam to the north. When one considers the two logics just analyzed, the consequences of the national organization and state accountability of the police, and the instrumental use of security and immigration issues, it is not difficult to comprehend that instead of enforcing the law, as they would describe their activity, the officers patrolling the disadvantaged neighborhoods are actually enforcing a social order characterized by swelling economic inequalities and expanding racial discrimination. But it also becomes clear that they are not doing so on their own initiative, although the ideological profile of those posted to the special units render many of them prone to demonstrate excessive zeal in their targeted repression as we've just seen, but rather as part of the mission they were assigned by the government. Here, ethnography proves irreplaceable, first, to establish the shift from law enforcement to enforcing order, second, to articulate the national politics and the local practices. Only the patient and fastidious observation of what has become the norm in the governing of these territories and of these populations can account for the concrete manifestation of this shift and this articulation in the everyday life of the outer cities.

Didier Fassin 34:16

The deployment of supposedly neutral managerial tools in the assessment of police work and more generally of the activity in all public institutions can serve as an illustration. It has been famously designated as a political shift, the politics of numbers. By establishing quantitative objectives that were most of the time unattainable in terms of monthly arrests and clearance rates in particular, the government constrained the police to develop adaptive tactics, focusing on two types of offenses which became what officers sometimes called adjustment variables: offenses in relation to drug use and illegal residence, the offenders being, in both cases, easy prey. Indeed, the targeted practice of stop and frisk on youth in the housing project or city centers, for the former, and immigrants in public spaces like train stations for the latter gives high yield in terms of arrests. This productivity as a non-negligible social cost, which is the banalization of racial discrimination and racial profiling, officially encouraged although illegal. It was fascinating to watch officers stopping teenagers of ethnic minorities in disadvantaged neighborhoods to frisk them in search of marijuana, while ignoring upper class white students obviously under the influence of drugs in their surrounding of their college, or economic university -- business school. Just as it was perplexing to see them select individuals in the crowd getting off the metro according to their skin color and physical appearance to subject them to an identity check and a body search. Certain officers expressed discontent about what they consider to be a dirty job serving political interest rather than the public good. Others found obvious satisfaction in a policy of which they approved. In fact, even when these, they disagreed with this quantitative explanation and its consequences, the police did not, did it more for practical reasons than moral reason. They denounced the pressure of the results of their activity, rather than the breach of legal or deontological norms. Conspicuously, in his first declaration, Manuel Valls, the new Minister of the Interior appointed after the election of the socialist President Francois Hollande in May 2012, announced the end of the politics of numbers, a decision applauded by police unions themselves. And he also stated his reservations regarding the measure proposed by nongovernmental organizations, activists, and lawyers to regulate the practice of stop and frisk, namely the presentation of receipt to, to each individual checked. In other words, there was no more incentive to arrest youth and immigrants, but nothing was envisaged to prevent it from occurring. So far, the story seems to be narrated as a moment in French history, its repressive turn, and there is definitely a national specificity of law enforcement. British and US police,to mention the most widely studied, each have a distinct organization, recruitment, training, supervision, professional norms, and disciplinary regulation. Yet, as a result of both the convergence worldwide of a dominant model of urban policing and the global networking of law enforcement institutions, the politics and, and the practices have become increasingly similar transnationally. The contemporary French police resemble more the US cops of today than the French police of yesterday, which were perhaps more similar to their contemporaneous British bobbies. However, each law enforcement institution has its particular racial and racist history: in the United States, chattel slavery, Jim Crow, urban segregation; in France, colonization and decolonization.

Didier Fassin 39:18

The colonial period thus lends itself to the exploration of one of the most remarkable cases of policing except-exceptions, namely the treatment of people of North African origin living in France. Founded in 1925 as part of the Service for the Surveillance and Protection of North African Natives, as they were called, which brought together a group of institutions designed more to monitor than to protect despite their the name they had, to, so to, more to monitor than to protect these colonial subjects, the North African Brigade's mission was to control and suppress the nationalist tendencies of some, as well as the undesirable presence of others. After the liberation of, in 1945, accusations of racism and violence lodged against the group and evidence of its complicity with the occupying Germans led to its dissolution, when the brutal repression of protests in Algerian, in the Algerian town of Sétif forced the colonial power to make concessions, including the recognition of the status of the so-called French Muslims of Algeria. However, the demise of this structure did not imply the disappearance of the corresponding practices, for the prefecture of police picked up where the, where the North African Brigade left off, adopting much of the language of suspicion and disqualification, the culturalist and xenophobic prejudices, and above all the arbitrary raids, imprisonment, registration requirements. As concerned -- concerns raised by the increasing separatist claims of the Movement for the Triumph of Democratic Liberties grew, this masked exception no longer sufficed. And the Assault and Violence Brigade was created in 1953 following clashes on July 14 of that year, during which police fired on protesters, killing seven people. The new unit became a feared instrument of repression, performing every night numerous identity checks whose ultimate function, surveillance and intimidation, proved very effective. The institution was transformed a few years later with the twin creation in 1958 of the Technical Assistance service for French Muslims from Algeria, which integrated different administrative, social, and policing activities supposed to throw out the work of Algerian nationalists, and in 1959 of the Auxiliary Police Force, often referred to the, to as the Harkis of Paris and composed of soldiers recruited in Algeria to fight against the National Liberation Front. All these structures disappeared after the Évian agreements in 1962. That is the moment of independence of Algeria, but they nevertheless reveal the decades long continuty of exceptional practices in special units, as well as in the ordinary police. It is indeed the latter, ordinary police, which are responsible for the massacre of several hundreds of Algerians who were peacefully protesting. On the 17th of October 1961, many of them were thrown into the Seine River. It is one of the darkest pages of 20th century history in France, and one, for a long time, one of the most secret and hidden. An operation conducted in a housing project where a brawl had been reported during a New Year's Eve celebration, the chief of the unit shouted to his men, "40 years ago, we lost the Algerian War. We chickened out, we're not going to do it again, did today, take no prisoners. It's no holds barred." Two men, one from Turkey and the other one from the Caribbean, who had nothing to do with what appeared to be, in the end, only an argument, were beaten, arrested, taken to custody, withdrawn from medical examination, and accused of violence against the police. In the end, at the trial, which I attended,

Didier Fassin 44:17

Five officers received suspended sentences without consequences for their career. Protected by the Minister Ministry of the Interior, which refused to say where they were posted, they never paid the compensation to the victims. Without wanting to equate the residents of the banlieue with colonial subjects or to confuse the various squads active during the colonial period with the special units deployed today, the parallels are nevertheless troubling, as they reveal the permanence of questions and doubts about the need for special institutions for specific territories and populations. Over the past 30 years, low income individuals, chiefly of immigrant background, have become concentrated in what are often called, in administrative speak, sensitive urban zones. Public housing, in which -- which in the 1960s had helped reduce the precariousness represented by urban slums and emergency settlements, did maintain some social and ethnic diversity until the 1970s with the presence of low income households of European origin, often in the process of climbing the job ladder and awaiting the means to achieve home ownership. Since the economic restructuring and rising unemployment of the 1980s mainly affected poor Arab and Sub-Saharan families, public housing has become less and less diverse, retaining more and more of these immigrant families. A general interpretation of this evolution, which is not specific to the French context, is the following: the contemporary world is increasingly unequal, international disparities tend to stimulate migratory flows toward rich, richer nations, whatever the risks incurred, while national disparities tend to marginalize those who belong to racially and ethnically stigmatized groups. Both dynamic-dynamics converge, sometimes over two generations, with the tragic disillusions of immigrant parents who have sacrificed everything for their children, whom they realize are now increasingly in the ranks of the stigmatized urban poor. In recent decades, the concentration of impoverished and discriminated populations in disadvantaged neighborhoods has generating, generated anxieties in the general public, often fueled by conservative parties, and rarely addressed by liberal ones. As inequalities deepen, the political response has been the deployment of what is often described as a punitive state, essentially dedicated to the poor, segregated areas, even when they do not have higher crime rates, which is the case, and to the ethnic and racial minority groups who comprise the pauperized working class. The legislation has been, law enforcement has become tougher and more people are arrested for misdemeanors. The legislation has been revised to impose heavier sentencing on them, constraining the magistrates to more severity, and resulting in increasing incarceration. It would probably be too simplistically functionalist to assert that repression exerted on the most vulnerable segment of society merely, merely serves to elude the question of growing inequalities. However, it is undeniable that there have been and there still is, still -- still our political dividends for right wing as well as left wing governments, not only of law and order policies, but also of their publicization, and even spectacularization, for instance, through highly mediatized arrests of a few suspects in a housing project, deportation of undocumented immigrants, or expulsion of Roma,

Didier Fassin 48:43

of Roma from an illicit camp. Strengthening -- strengthening the penal state is easier and electorally more rewarding than developing the welfare state. Thus, public authorities privileged social order over social justice, dele-delegating to the police, more than the legitimate monopoly of violence held by the state, as is well known, the power to exert power in unlawful ways to deploy illegal practices they would never consider deploying in other contexts to carry out actions that the most elementary morality would make unconceivable to conduct elsewhere. That is, in Walter Benjamin's words, the power to make the exception the rule in certain territories and towards certain population. Why, then, is it so crucial to have ethnographies of urban policy? It is not simply that ethnography provides a sort of immersion in the, into the world of law enforcement, allowing us to understand what happens when the police are in the field. It is, perhaps more importantly, that it produces a vision of a world that has been made either invisible or opaque to most of us. This is what I realized through the numerous reactions I received from readers of La Force de l'ordre, the French version, of course, of Enforcing Order. Whether judges, who had finally found explanations for strange cases of insulting an officer and resisting arrest, journalists specialized in urban and social issues who told me they had discovered a reality of which they were unaware due to their usual reliances, reliance on official sources, or youth from housing projects who confided to me that the book meant to them, for the credi-meant a lot to them for the credibility it gave to their version of facts, which neither the magistrates nor the media ever believed. In that sense, by revealing what is generally concealed or simply ignored, the ethnographer reestablishes the majority in its responsibility to know what is going on and decide whether it is acceptable, and reinstitutes the individuals and groups concerned by these policies in their right to have their experience acknowledged and their voice heard. From the beginning of my talk, I have accompanied it with pages from a book which is another version of La Force de l'ordre, initially published in 2011 and translated in English as Enforcing Order, published in 2013. I said accompanied, because it is not a mere illustration, it is a sort of counterpoint to the text. Nine years separate the ordinary, original ethnography from the eponymous ethnographic. Why did I undertake what I thought would be a rather easy exercise and became a four year intensive task of writing the scenario picture by picture, street by street, page by page of commenting on the drawing of the illustrator, of meeting almost every month with the publisher? Before answering the question, "Why?", I will answer the question, "How?". By pure coincidence, five years after the publication of the book, my French editor asked whether I might be interested in making it into a comic book, so to speak, as his publishing house, l'Seuil, was waiting to develop this sort of book with another publisher. A couple of weeks later, an illustrator and script writer contacted me to have my permission to transform the book into a comic book.

Didier Fassin 52:59

There was no connection between the two proposals. There was, so it was a pure coincidence, there was a meeting and we decided to work together, I liked the graphic style of the illustrator, who had been working, interestingly, for Liquidus Avant, which is described by Wikipedia as a major-oriented comics magazine, that means adult only, as well as for children's books and for a history of situationists. I was less convinced by the script writer, who had added personal inventions to the scenario, which was mostly a succession of anecdotes from La Force de l'ordre. The three of us agreed to collaborate after my two co-authors had accepted two conditions: first, the book should be strictly limited to the ethnography, there should be no additional fiction; second, the reader should be able to go beyond the narratives, there should be a way to present the historical, political, and sociological background. In other words, the reader should believe the facts as true and understand them in the context. Of course, I know that there's no such thing as truth. But I also know that, by experience, that people consider that what ethnographers say or write as true, is considered as true in most cases, it was crucial for me that they would believe in the facts related in the book. Besides, I realized that the constraints of the format are not, do not allow for the rendering of the complexity and thickness of the context, but images and dialogues could restitute with an economy of words some of the logics and processes underlying police work and their interactions with the populace. My demands led to my becoming the defecto scriptwriter, although I benefited from the experience of my colleague, the other script writer. So, let us come to the why. There are, there were mostly two reasons. The first reason was to access a broader and newer public. Most people are not ready to read a 450-page book, even if the author has made the effort to render, to render it readable, so a fix: youth, in particular those directly concerned with what the book is about, and also adults who have been raised in the culture of comics, as I have, could be drawn to this sort of literature. This is indeed what happened and all copies of the book were sold out in a few weeks after a presentation in a popular so-called intellectual broadcast on the national television. It is important to mention that contrary to what is the case in the United States, I believe, comics is not a minor and marginalized genre in France. From the early Les Pieds Nickelés and Spirou et Fantasio to the later Belgian Tintin, and the Gaul Asterix, and today's heroic fantasies and graphic novels, comics are extremely popular at all ages. There are many publishers and the section for them in bookstores is much larger than that of the social sciences. The second reason of doing this experiment was to explore a new mode of expressing ethnography. Transforming a 450-page book into a 100-page graphic study, which corresponds more or less to 600 rectangles with a scarcity of text is a problem. Certain scenes are extended -- the first eight pages of the original become 12 pages in, with 75 drawings, others are reduced to a few rectangles, graphic representations can be elliptic, leaving the reader imaging what was between two panels. Many disappear, to much regret on my side, I still agree with some of, some lost scenes. Also, the sociology of the police remains sketchy. However, the social origin of most officers is mentioned as well as their training in the academy.

Didier Fassin 57:37

But images can be powerful. In the book I tried to describe the badges of the special units with a spider, panther, wolves, death personified as a human skeleton with its scythe, tall blocks of a project seen through a gun sight, and even a fist gripping lightning flashes above public housing building in a conscious or unconscious evocation of the death of the two adolescents in Clichy-sous-Bois. But how much more evocative of the drawings on the two pages where the, the genesis of the anti-crime squads is discussed, and the comments of officials telling that these units often cause disorder, instead of bringing order, are provided. You see that, the back cover, and you've seen before these, ah, these drawings. In the same way, describing inaction and boredom is difficult in writing. There's not much to tell, in contrast with exhilarating events, which both officers and criminologist enjoy talking about. But suffice to have, on several occasions, in the ethnographic series of comic strips with a police car seen patrolling across the housing projects in alternance with perspective from inside the car, with the police remaining silent or telling their colleagues what they have done during the weekend, to give a sense of time elapsing and nothing happening. Every element of the translation is thus a rewarding challenge. To get an idea of this making of, very briefly, I will show the various stages of the representation of the office of the anti-crime squad. This representation is important because it suggests the, among other things, one of them being the flag, the French flag, because it suggests the imagination of the officers, that of a thrilling life, as in US series, with posters of the shield, of the shield on the walls and lockers, in contrast with the reality of their inaction and boredom later. So, to give you the, an idea of the stages, at the first stage, I gave a general idea of the scene, that -- so that's just one, one rectangle, a general idea of the scene with what should be shown, what should be commented, what should be said, and then offer a detailed description of the room with a couple of pictures taken there, and as you can see on the left an awkward drawing. Then, the illustrator starts working on the storyboard, which is a rough drawing allowing easy changes, followed by a more precise drawing on the, on the right side, which can be still criticized and modified. And finally, the strips are redrawn and colorized. The colors themselves were the results of, the result of several attempts to get an homogenous, crepuscular atmosphere all around the book, as you've seen before, not only because many scenes where it took place at night, but also because the facts related and depicted reflect somber police practices. There is an appeal to the ethnographic. It is an attempt to account for what has happened since the time of the research and the publication of the ethnography. The chronicle of police violence against youth belonging to ethno-racial minorities has continued, the number of killings by law enforcement agents has even increased, as you can see on the graphic, the graph on the, on the top of this page. Prosecutions of the perpetrators have remained rare and sentences even more exceptional, despite increasing mobilization against impunity of the police. Terrorist attacks have legitimated two, um, two years of state of emergency with suspension of many fundamental liberties and rights, militarization of public spaces across the country, extension of the power of the police targeting of Muslim and Arabs. Two days before the end of the state of emergency, the French President Emmanuel Macron had a law passed integrating most of the exception into normal legislation.

Didier Fassin 1:02:48

Yellow vest protests have been harshly repressed, with hundreds of wounded and mutilated, including eyes lost by shot of flash ball, and hence ripped off by steel ball grenades, as shown in the film Un pays qui se tient sage -- a country that remains quiet, in reference to a comment by an officer as he rejoiced, seeing dozens of student protesters being forced to kneel for hours as a sign of humiliating submission. Police violence against migrants and refugees has become the norm, with their tents destroyed, their belongings thrown away, and their food sullied by tear gas. Dark times. Thank you.

Ippolytos Kalofonos 1:03:37

Thank you very much, Didier, for the, for this really complex talk, gives us a lot to dig into: not just your findings, but, but the methodology and, and of course, the representations, so thank you so much for that -- that presentation. I'd like to now turn, welcome our respondents: Aslı Bâli and Aomar Boum. And we'll have Aslı respond to Didier's talk first.

Aslı Ü. Bâli 1:04:11

Great, thank you so much, Ippy, and thanks to the many sponsors of this event today, especially Laurie Hart and Ananya Roy, whose work has been extraordinary in putting this together. It's an incredible honor to engage with the work of Didier Fassin, which is absolutely fascinating. We only got a taste of it from this presentation, equally to share the platform with Aomar Boum, whose comments I'm very much looking forward to, and who shares with Professor Fassin the extraordinary reality of being an academic who was able to translate their work into graphic novel form as well. And so I think a logical division of labor in our discussant remarks is that Aomar might address all of the really extraordinary questions of both pedagogy and knowledge production that are embedded in the idea of the ethno-graphic, and perhaps I will explore some of the themes in the, in the substance of the work itself. And specifically, in my own case, I would like to explore the role of law in the story that we've just heard, the significance of visibility, the importance of visibility, and then interrogate, just very briefly, what can and cannot be rendered visible. So to begin with, then, with law, the story that we've just heard is one that's very familiar. From Watts to Paris to Minneapolis, we see patterns of the explosion of daily low grade police repression into spectacular violent interaction between law enforcement and marginalized communities. And these episodes are the bookends of Professor Fassin's project, and what is, you know, what lies between them, which is the story that he's telling us, includes a shared structural context that defines this pattern, which includes segregation, discrimination, poverty, high unemployment, and an understanding of policing that is focused on enforcing social order, the social order that itself depends on these same structures, these structural characteristics of segregation, discrimination, poverty, and so on. So what Professor Fassin shows us is that one key to understanding these bursts of violence is that they render visible the persistent low grade, low grade practices of racialized policing, the everyday practice of law enforcement. And he argues that what happens in between the high profile events holds the key to understanding why they occur and also possibly how to prevent them. And I would agree, certainly, with the former, and then I want to sort of press on the latter, whether or not rendering visible these everyday practices is part of a sort of project to also address and prevent them.

Aslı Ü. Bâli 1:06:39

The evocative language that emerged following the murder of George Floyd and that became a mantra in the anti-racist mobilizations of this year, "I can't breathe," captures the structural reality of the crushing and life threatening repression to which racialized publics are subject, and as we see from Professor Fassin's presentation, this is true from France to the United States and well beyond those two contexts. This repression, as I've just suggested, is structural. Part of it is embodied in the everyday practices that have been revealed in this ethnographic work. Professor Fassin's ethnography reveals generalizable patterns of relations with the public, political incentives that influence practices, systems of evaluation, sanctioning of conduct, shaping behavior, and justifications that are offered for deviant behavior in the everyday routine actions of the police. But another part that lies beyond these everyday practices are the legal technologies that produce the structural context for this repression, how the politics of enforcing order through violence to contain peripheries is translated into law. And I would argue that there's a compliment to the project that Professor Fassin has given us that is necessary to answering that second question, the question of how might we prevent or end or address the sets of practices that he has laid before us? This would require focusing on how racial violence is itself embedded in the analytic structure of legal doctrine. That is that the law itself is the source of the racialized logic that we then see play out in these everyday practices. So for example, my colleague, Devon Carbado's brilliant work on the Fourth Amendment here in the United States shows that racially disproportionate policing is not just enabled, but actually and actively required by the law as it stands, whether in terms of surveillance, search and contact between law enforcement and the communities that they target, or -- and social control, and that the law itself provides and produces the circuit of violence that links mechanisms of ordinary control to spectacular uses of excessive force. So one account would be that law enforcement has been transformed into the enforcement of social order. And this is, in a sense, a part of the story that Professor Fassin gives us, so to quote him, he says, "Instead of enforcing the law, the police are enforcing social order against swelling economic inequality, and racial discrimination." So here, the sort of tension is between enforcing the law versus enforcing social order. Another account would be that the enforcement of this kind of social order has always been the core characteristic of policing, and that the law itself is designed precisely to enforce this social order, that the very ideas of the police and the practices of mobile patrolling are originally and fundamentally racialized. Historical research clearly supports this in the American context, and in the French colonial context that Professor Fassin just described to us, we see the exact same logic. At a more generalized level, what we might say is that policing ad initio has been designed to enforce hierarchy and law itself is the technology by which that hierarchy is defined and the policing practices are focused, and that the hierarchy perpetuates itself through repressive practices that are engaged at the -- targeting disadvantaged and segregated areas for the maintenance and reproduction of socioeconomic and racial inequality. So here policing and law serve the purpose of reproducing these inequalities, not merely managing them, as might be suggested in another conception of a distinction between law enforcement and the enforcement of order. So while it may be correct that the banlieues are -- should not be equated with yesterday's colonial subjects, the technologies of state power to which they are subjugated grow directly in a path-dependent relationship out of those earlier colonial policing practices. And indeed, the very logic of policing emerges out of those kinds of practices, and then is projected forward into our contemporary moment, translated to new hierarchies. Moreover, and what's interesting about this is, it helps us to understand why we see the convergence worldwide around the dominant model of urban policing that is built on the kinds of discretionary power and widespread impunity that Professor Fassin has described. This is because law is a fundamentally transmissible language. It's the language through which the state speaks to itself and structures the logics of its power, but it is a language that travels, producing repertoires that can be, you know, sequenced from one context to another, translated to the needs of policing hierarchy from one contingent circumstance to another. And so I would argue that it is that role of law, both as the logic of the structure of repression that then plays out in these everyday practices, and also as the transmissible technology that carries the practices across borders that would be an important focal point of study, if we are interested in understanding not only how these practices unfold, but how we might address them. This takes me to the question of visibility, which is also integral to Professor Fassin's project in two different respects. The first is something that we've all seen in this past year, which is that

Aslı Ü. Bâli 1:12:04

overcoming the invisibility of the structures and practices of these kinds of repressive state power is critical to the possibility of mobilizing against them. The importance of images and videos is, again, something that unites the US and French context from George Floyd to the events and images of Michel Zecler, the incident which revealed and put an end to the Macron government's efforts to introduce a controversial security bill that would have made it illegal to circulate or publish video or images of police officers. Why would the state seek to prevent citizen journalists, let's say, from circulating images of the actions and practices of the police? It's precisely because of that power of visibility to mobilize. It's when we see the consequences of the practices, when we watch the excruciating, nearly nine minutes of extinguishing the life of a person under the knee of the police officer, or the beating of an entertainment producer immediately in front of his home by police officers unprovoked, that we are able to translate the logic that we've all described just now into a kind of mobilizing focal point of action. So that visibility, rendering visibility -- rendering visible, the extension of the prerogatives of the police, the logics of national security and counterterrorism, for example, as they've been internalized an ordinary law in France, as Professor Fassin just described, or the more broad, racialized logics of policing, translating those into focal points for action is something that vis-the visibility of images has made possible. And this, of course, connects the importance, then, and the power of the ethno-graphic, which itself renders visible the arguments and structure of Professor Fassin's own work for a broader public. So I think this idea of the politics of visibility, is something that we might be able to explore, perhaps productively, in a discussion with the audience or between ourselves and Professor Fassin, to understand how critical they've been how critical visibility has become to understanding how we might, again, think about addressing the kinds of ordinary practices that he's described. But then this leads me to my last point, which is the question of what can and cannot be made visible. And here, I want to turn to the question of gender. One of the things we've seen here in the United States, alongside the Black Lives Matter movement has been a movement that is known by that sort of phrase, Say Her Name, which is the movement to render visible the extinguishing of Black women's lives, which has largely been excluded from the practices and politics of visibility that have attended to the kinds of spectacular violence that we see in the George Floyd context, that Professor Fassin describes in his work, which is almost always in a public place, and addressing a gendered subject, who is the male subject, although not at all exclusively the subject that is targeted by racialized police practices or repressive practices of the state. So how might this politics of spectacular violence be redirected in some ways, the idea of the spectacle, to understand the private spaces, the private places in which violence unfolds between the police and communities that produces particular kinds of gendered effects, the shooting that-that penetrates, not on the street corner, but in the bedroom, the kinds of violence that occur in sexual encounters in police vans as opposed to humiliating practices in the public on the street. So thinking about the politics of visibility, what it makes, what it renders sort of possible as a focal point, but also what it might occlude, I think, is another element of something we might choose to interrogate in our discussion. But I just want to thank Professor Fassin again, and the organizers, for giving me this occasion to discuss this remarkable work. Thank you.

Aomar Boum 1:15:43

Thanks, Aslı. And thanks to the organizers for inviting me to comment on Professor Fassin's graphic work. I enjoyed reading the French version. Despite the increasing numbers of comics and graphic novels in academic as well as popular literature in the last decade, and the-the unprecedented financial gains of the comic publishing industry, anthropologists are still struggling with how to communicate their ethnographic vignettes, stories, and findings through panels and strips to their traditional and new readership. As some ethnographers attempt to write against the grain of traditional anthropological writing, the challenge of comics in anthropology exac-is exacerbated by the ethical layers of representation, especially when we consider that we write about social and political issues and their moral implications at the center of IRBs, ethics, and politics. Professor Fassin has taken this challenge head on. And as far as I'm concerned, his first attempt at visual anthropological illustration of policing has achieved many objectives in presenting one of the first ethnographic translations into bande dessinée. In this short response to this ethnographic work, I would like to underscore a few points about visual illustration in La Force de l'ordre, highlighting a few points about the benefits and challenges of tuning ethnographies into bande dessinée on policing in the context of France as I pose a few questions to Professor Fassin. Looking at the cover of La Force de l'ordre, the first thing that catches our eye is the collaborative dimension of the work. Unlike the writing, the original ethnographies, Professor Fassin relies not only on the service of an illustrator and artist, but also a scenario writer. As an anthropologist -- as an anthropologist, I would like to be, to know what, what went behind this choice of using both, which I think professor has already talked about. Myself working on a graphic history with the Franco-Algerian-American artist Nadji Berber, and we opted to do the storyboards and storyline by ourselves. In my case, I saw no need to a scenario specialist given the strong knowledge of historical and thematic issues of the artist Berber as well as myself doing the research in the archive. So what does the ethnography lose and gain from giving up some of the authorship role and hiring a scenario artists? If I assume that Professor Fassin's intent is to expand his readership, and that's what explains the reliance on a story -- on a storyline experts to fashion his story, then my question would be, how would this change the way we do ethnography that intends to be graphic in style in the future? Ethnographies that result in visual output such as films are decidedly different from those that aim to write books. See, for instance, the process behind David McDougall's Gandhi's Children. Visual anthropology draws on a different canon, different sources of funding, and to some extent a distinct audience. If the first or primary outcome were a graphic novel instead of a text based product, how would this change the way anthropologists need to approach the funding process, the storyboard, etc.?

Aomar Boum 1:19:41

Holocaust Studies has given, has been at the forefront of the comic tradition, especially after Art Spiegelman succeeded after many years' effort to transform the trauma of his father and other Holocaust survivors into a comic work. What can anthropology learn from Holocaust graphic novels and comics? How do we transform traumatic life experiences into comics and visual representation and therefore make them available to a larger audience? In Professor Fassin's work, I see examples of this. Like Joe Sacco's Footnotes in Gaza, La Force de l'ordre allows what Rebecca Scherr calls the "humanitarian witnessing" of the never ending tragedy of the spectacle of policing. I think one of the achievements of the, of the artwork version of the ethnography of Professor Fassin shows through the disaster of the banlieue as a space of economic and social exclusion. I think this explains why Professor Fassin quotes both Edward Said and Joe Sacco in his first two pages, introduction, as a way to highlight the immediacy and vividness of the art from, of the art form to describe the moral ruins in the context of Israel-Palestine. Space in Fassin's work is a character. We see high buildings surrounded by police stations, policemen and policewomen throughout the graphic work. There is nothing about the individuals that are supposed, that are stopped except their country of origin or ethnic identities. Even their faces are not clear. Sometimes. Jake Raynal, the artist, uses color through-throughout the whole work, yet it is flat, uninviting. It gives a lifeless atmosphere. I now turn to the thematic issues. And as a reader, I can state that this visual ethnography succeed in laying out one of the key thematic ideas of Professor person's work, which is the global commonalities of today's policing, especially in the way policing squads work in impoverished neighborhoods of global cities. However, and while Professor Fassin has managed to highlight the controlling power of police, the graphic work does little to humanize this subject of police brutality. I would have loved to see more about the daily lives of some characters. While Professor Fassin gives a few panels representing police outside their work, this work could also have benefited from more, if we learn more about their private lives instead of focusing on the -- the visual lens on the disenfranchised youth targeted by police. My concern is that this representation, and especially through visual and images might perpetuate the misunderstanding leaders have about the banlieue instead of focusing on the causes of the economic and political disenfranchisement. Finally, I would like to say a few comments about French policing and its satellite models in African continent, where many of the population of Paris banlieue that Professor Fassin discusses happen to be from. I think it is an important historical background, which I think already Professor Fassin already touched upon, is to understanding why policing works today in the way it does in France and its North African colonies. In the aftermath of the so-called Arab uprisings, Senegalese, Tunisian, Algerian, Moroccan hip hop artists, largely unemployed university graduates, among other rappers in other parts of French colonial Africa produced songs full of references to policing and police brutality. For instance, a few days after the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, Ben Ali's brutal police response to the democratic protest for social and economic justice were met with the silent support of the French authorities. In response to policing crackdowns, many youth are seeking refuge illegally in France's banlieue even as it's getting hard to get legal papers as héberger or residents. In fact, new movements of comic -- in fact, new movements of comic writing in North -- in North and West Africa is emerging as a response to their own state's policing and Europe's immigration walls. This implicit support goes back to the colonial and postcolonial period. North African brigades were set up in many colonies for the surveillance and suppression of any forms of national activities in the colonies and in France. At the same time, and after the Algerian War, many members of these brigades from North and West Africa were integrated in the French police force, and therefore supply a lifeline to the system.

Aomar Boum 1:24:29

For example, and as I show you my work on Vichy France, Maurice Papon, who was responsible for the internment and the deportation of many Jews during Vichy and the torture of political dissidents in Algeria, was the founder of the, a program that killed many Algerian nationalists in October 1961 that Professor Fassin already mentioned. With the return migration of the pieds noirs and North Africans as well as West African immigrants in search of work in mainland Europe in the late 1950s to the 1970s, French authorities shifted policing discourse without limiting their support of new independent states to police in immigrants, and later their descendants in the suburbs. Again, these programs were partly engineered and designed by military and police figures who played a key role in the war of Algerian independence, for instance. At the same time, this colonial culture of policing would be transformed to the new indigenous leadership in many North African states, including Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, and that would be, as former colonial officers were asked to train new members of the police forces in France and its colonial territories. By way of conclusion, I think that French history of internment and policing was part and parcel of governing both in the Metropole and the colonies. This system, which was mainly -- which was maintained in the colonies, and even before 1830, is now still alive, as police squads of urban France are given more authoritative power, and I use the colonial term, to "pacify," quote unquote, the communities of the banlieue, who are depicted today in the discourse of Le Pen and Macron as a space of violence and disorder that needs to be daily controlled by la force de l'ordre of the new liberal capitalist state. Thank you.

Ippolytos Kalofonos 1:26:21

Thank you, Aomar and Aslı, for some stirring comments. Didier, I'm sure you have, you have a lot to respond to now. Why don't we call back all of our distinguished guests and we can have an opportunity to sort of share our thoughts. And, and a reminder to the audience that we, of course, this should be a day long symposium. We do have just a short time for discussion, but please do submit any questions you have. Didier, would you like to respond first?

Didier Fassin 1:26:51

Yeah, so Ippolytos if you allow, allow me, we can, with our two respondents, use first names. So, um, so thank you very much, Aslı and Aomar, for these, these incredible comments, I'm really, um, I have nothing to go against except one detail, which I will mention in a moment, but, but I think it is, Aslı -- Aslı, it is very interesting that you, that you bring the law in the way you do and that you reverse, in a Benjamin way, I would say, that you reverse that enforcing, enforcing order is in fact enforcing a social order, or enforcing the law is in fact enforcing a social order. To reverse it as enforcing a social order is or needs to enforce a certain type of law. So I, so I think that is, that is very powerful. And this is something I will, you know, I, I take as a very serious and interesting and original addition to this, to this interpretation of what goes on in, in the French banlieue, or in the US inner cities or wherever. So, so this is extremely helpful. You, you insist on the fact that law is a transmissible language, a language that travels, you say, and it is true. What travels also is techniques and is people. And, and it is remarkable to see, and I, I know little of that because I have not been working on it, but in different countries where I've been working to see how, including, of course, France and the United States, there -- there have been exchanges. Some police officers or commissioners tell me how, when they -- how they went to two different cities in the United States and had exchanges and-and of course, well, especially when, when -- when the relationship is an asymmetrical relationship. That is, you go to a place where it's supposed to be, um, to be, eh, the police are supposed to be stronger or more technicized or there's an asymmetrical relationship in which mimesis is very strong. You want to imitate what, what the others -- and imitating in the police is imitating for the worse. What you, uh, what you say about, about the politics of visibility, it is true that images taken on cell phones, and -- and if you have not seen it, I, I suggest that you see the film I was mentioning at the end, a David Dufresne movie titled Un pays qui se tient sage, A Country that Remains Quiet, which is an irony, of course. It is almost entirely made of, of videos taken by, by -- by cell phones and commented by people who are sometimes people who have lost an eye, sometimes a sociologist, sometimes a police officer or commissioner and so, so you have this conversation two by two around images that are very striking ones but but come from -- there's no original image in that film. And that's what makes the film, I think, relatively original. But, but it is, this politics of visibility, as you say, is, is extremely important. And as it has, it has gone -- gone against, in many cases, and in the United States perhaps even more, but against the words and, and the affirmations of the -- of the police in ways that not only exonerated people who were submitted to violence, but also led to prosecutions of the police, whatever the results are, and usually they are not very, very, um, very strong justice, or judicial decisions.

Didier Fassin 1:31:53

And, and you, you mentioned the question of gender. It is true that, in my case, and having spent 15 months with the police, the gender dimension, I would say, is of two kinds. It's, uh, it's the young men who are the the target of policing. And it is police officers who want to show their masculinity, including, and I've written an op-ed once on that, including by humiliating -- sexually humiliating men, either by, by hand, or by their baton, putting the baton in the rectum or, or with their hand grasping their genitals. This is -- this is really something. Now, there's another side which I have not witnessed. But but it's very important to take into account. It's also, of course, as is insisted on by, by you, but also by Black Lives Matter, um, eh, which is what happens to women and, and, and, and there are at least two sides, which I know but many more, probably. But one is, in some cases, the sexual violence against women. Some police officers have been accused of raping, raping women, not as much as, as you have in the United States, but, but still; and the sexual violence -- especially prostitutes, especially prostitutes, as if there were a special right to, to exert social, sexual violence on women. And the other one is domestic -- domestic violence. And, and it has been shown that there's, that there's more domestic violence by police officers than there is in the general population. So that, we have this, these statistics. So thank you for insisting on that dimension, which is not, not seriously treated in my in my book, neither in the original nor in the, in the recent one. Aomar, thank you, also, for -- for your extraordinary comments and, and also illustration, or maybe you will not like illustration but at least slides, where you, you-you show -- I didn't know La Traversée, for example, you know, I didn't know your, your, your own book. So, so this is something I will, I will read Un-Undesirables. There's -- there's one correction that's where, that's the only -- there's one correction I want to make and, and of course you cannot know. And this is relatively confidential. I will not say that to a French public or to a French audience. But it happens that I wrote the whole scenario. And, and the reason why you have two names is because initially, as I said, I was conducted with these two friends. One was a scriptwriter, the other one was an illustrator. And, and, and I, I wanted to respect that they had contacted me and so, so he play-he played, he played a role: that was to look at my scenario, rectangle by rectangle or panel by panel. And I would make comments, but they were relatively approving of the description. And I gave you one slide on which I show how-how much the text was to explain how. And, and, you know, I didn't feel like discarding him from, from the, from the project when he, when he -- when he had contacted me initially, so...and, and the relation was -- relationship was really good. But on the basis that I would do the, the not only the first draft, but, but very detailed first rough draft, and then he would comment, and some of these comments were very useful, I should say. The space as character, you're -- you're right. And it's nice,

Didier Fassin 1:36:48

an interesting way to say it. I was very careful. I, I took pictures. I I, as I said, I wanted everything to be not on a realist in a general sense, but real. So, so I didn't want to have huge housing project building everywhere. So in some cases, that was a smaller, small house or small building or so I tried to, and that was based on, on, on photos, so that I would, of course, it would, nobody can notice that. But, but it is the way the way I do it to, to get this resemblance. I had the, the -- the opportunity to bring to the reader something of what was really going on. Again, really, as far as I can know, understand, and see. And I wanted to transmit that to the, to the, to the public. And very briefly, to...Well, yeah, you say about the daily life of the police officers. I, I didn't do -- I never did interviews, I never...I had, I think, a good relationship with the police, I never became friends with them. They lived usually 200 miles from, from where they worked. And I decided that I would, I would do -- I would just know what, what they were telling me in conversation when we were in the car or when we were in the office and this kind of thing. But, but it's true that that would be an addition, to have these, to add this deeper view into their perspective into their, their life outside of work. And just to give two elements about that. One is that they live in very difficult material conditions because, as I said, 200 miles from their family, so they stay three days at work. And, and they -- they usually rent a very small apartment, usually a studio, and they alternate. So one is, one is sleeping during the day, the other one is sleeping during-at night, and so this is very uncomfortable conditions to work, and, and -- and the other element is something that is that you've seen in the, in the book is that, in one of the drawings, I realized that those were respectful and, and understanding with the, with the youth were those who had been living there, their own childhood and adolescence in this same urban environment and knew that they could be friends with Black people and brown people. So, and just two words to end. Ben Ali, yes. And, and in fact, it's even more than, and probably you know it, but probably more than, than what you said, the, the, the French Minister of the Interior proposed the techniques and, and, and the the way of doing a French police to control the protesters. So they propose to Ben Ali that. That, that went that far. In the, in the, in -- during the Arab Spring. And second, Papon, that -- I mentioned it, you mentioned it, maybe one addition would be that he was a personal friend of François Mitterrand, the French socialist president. And this is why he was under -- he was protected by, by the president. So, so, so the, this tells the, the, the very problematic relationship at a very high level. And, and, and complex relationship on the ground. Sorry, I've been a little long.

Ippolytos Kalofonos 1:41:27

Thank you, Didier, for the -- for the comments. And it gives me no pleasure to, you know, to conclude this event. I mean, I feel like we're just getting started. But I know we're running out of time. And I know a lot of our participants will need to be going. So thank you so much, Didier, for sharing this work, really rich and on so many levels. And it gives us a lot to think about. There's a lot there, it could compare to situation here in the US and just a lot to think about. And a perfect talk for our series here, putting Black Lives Matter into global perspectives. So on behalf of the International Institute, the Luskin Institute and all our co-sponsors, I'd really like to thank Didier for your generous, the generous time you spent with us. Also thank Aomar and Aslı for your response-responses. And I'd like to invite -- also thank you to the audience for joining us. And I just want to remind everybody to join us for our next event on February 12, in two weeks, at the same time, for a talk by anthropologist Adia Benton, also examining practices of policing on a global scale. The talk's entitled Spy, Patrol, Police: Black Life and the Production of Epidemiological Knowledge from Atlanta, Georgia to Freetown, Sierra Leone. And so I hope to see many of you then. Thank you.

Duration: 01:42:45


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29 Jan 21
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