Policing in Postcolonial Continental Europe

Policing ‘Crime’ and ‘Violence’ - Lecture 3

Lecturer: Dr Vanessa E. Thompson, European University Viadrina

25 Mar 2021

The global protests and mobilisation for Black lives crystallised around policing, although simultaneously pointing at the broader dimensions of criminalisation and control of especially Black and other racialised poor folks and communities.

The protests unfolded globally very quickly, also in many parts of continental Europe such as Germany, France and Switzerland. In this session, we explore the differential logics of policing in Europe, which are connected to the histories of empire, colonialism and racial gendered capitalism.

We consider the functions and logics of policing, its relation to violence and safety and explore possible alternatives.


  • Eddie Bruce-Jones (2014), “German policing at the intersection: race, gender, migrant status and mental health”, Race & Class, 56(3): 36-49.
  • Frantz Fanon (1963), The Wretched of the Earth, New York: Grove.
  • Muschalek, Marie (2019), Violence as Usual: Policing and the Colonial State in German Southwest Africa, Ithaca, Cornell University Press.
  • Simone Browne (2015), Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness, London: Duke University Press.
  • Stuart Hall et al. (1978), Policing the Crisis. Mugging, the State, and Law an Order, London: Palgrave.
  • Vanessa E. Thompson (2018), “There is no justice, there is just us! Ansätze zu einer postkolonial-feministischen Kritik der Polizei am Beispiel von Racial Profiling“, in: Daniel Loick (Ed.): Kritik der Polizei, Frankfurt/Main: Campus, pp. 197-221. (English translation to be published in: Michael J. Coyle and Mechthild Nagel (Ed.): Contesting Carceral Logic: Knowledge and Praxis in Penal Abolition).



  1. What is the significance of the differential logic of policing to our understanding of safety?
  2. What are further intersectional systems of oppression that play into policing (such as gender or migration status)?
  3. What could make communities safe? What are possible alternatives to policing?