Current Initiatives

The Center on Transnational Policing (CTP) has several ongoing projects:

  • PU-UTokyo Strategic Partnership Project: “Policing, Public Space, and Democracy”
  • New Orleans Policing Project: “Tensions of Force: Policing, Security, and Governance in New Orleans”
  • Chicago Police Violence Project
  • Animation Project: “Policing America”
  • Policing African Diaspora Religions

PU-UTokyo Strategic Partnership Project: “Policing, Public Space, and Democracy”

The Center for Transnational Policing (CTP) and The Center for Architecture, Urbanism, and Infrastructure (CAUI) at Princeton, in conjunction with The Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies (III) and The Department of Urban Engineering (DUE) at the University of Tokyo, have begun a joint project on law enforcement, public space, and democracy, supported by the University of Tokyo/Princeton University Strategic Partnership funds. This intellectual exchange will analyze policing as a component of democracy in both Japan and the United States in order to contemplate new approaches to public security, safety and crime prevention (or bōhan in Japanese) that minimize the use of force in everyday life. Students and faculty at Princeton and the University of Tokyo will engage in interdisciplinary workshops and conduct research projects in Japan and the US. The first workshop is scheduled to be held in the summer of 2021 in Tokyo during the Tokyo Olympics. During this workshop, lectures and research trips will be structured around Olympic events.

New Orleans Policing Project: “Tensions of Force: Policing, Security, and Governance in New Orleans”

This project seeks to explore how different stakeholders grapple with national debates about community policing and enforcement by examining the problems articulated and the solutions proposed in New Orleans, Louisiana. Current climate of heightened awareness around policing demands a comprehensive study of policing, rooted in rigorous, historical, ethnographic analysis. As the city with the highest rate of incarceration in the world, New Orleans is an ideal site to understand policing. The project began in September 2017 with funding from the National Science Foundation. Led by Professors Laurence Ralph and Aisha Beliso-De Jesús, the research team (including doctoral students) has conducted a mixed-method research including survey, participant observation, focus groups, in-depth interviews, and collaborative data sharing and coding. The research activities are expected to continue through August 2021.

Chicago Police Violence Project

Building on his research on police torture in Chicago (which culminated in his forthcoming book, The Torture Letters), Laurence Ralph has conducted focus groups and in-depth interviews on the topic of police violence with residents, students, and victims of police torture in Chicago. Materials from the focus groups and interviews will be used in coursework on policing at Princeton University, as well as in educational programs in Chicago public schools. (See Animation Project below.) Findings from this project will also be disseminated through academic papers and a forthcoming monograph. His new book project, “Black Cargo,” explores the ways in which descendants of enslaved people now feel their fate is bound up in a system of domination in which they carry with them the memory of the violence that has been inflicted on their race. Arguing that the conundrum of being unable to bear to think about something which is always present to the mind is precisely the legacy wrought by police violence, Ralph examines how incidents of police violence form the basis of group identification through and by the ways in which Black people in Chicago embody and then carry with them, stories of victimization.

Animation Project: “Policing America”

This project renders ethnographic interviews into an animated series, supported by the Magic Innovation Grant from the Princeton University’s Humanities Council. The film series will center on focus groups and interviews conducted with teenagers in Chicago, and illustrate the power of research in the humanities by portraying a candid reflection of these teenagers’ thoughts, ideas and vulnerabilities. It will also offer a tool to visualize some of the latest data and scholarship on police violence. The films will be screened publicly and serve as a pedagogical material in Princeton courses and new initiatives within several Public-School systems across the United States, aimed at teaching the history of police violence to middle and high school students.

Policing African Diaspora Religions Project

This project, carried out by professor Aisha Beliso-De Jesús, examines how policing of Afro-Latinx and Diaspora religions emerges from both historic and contemporary criminalization and laws. Examining practices such as Santería, Palo Monte, Vodou, Candomblé, and Islam, this project looks at how Black and immigrant religions are treated unfairly out of fear stoked historically in popular media and politics. Practitioners have been harassed, their rituals halted by police, demonized as evil, falsely accused of child endangerment or animal cruelty, and treated unfairly in different institutional settings and jobs. Through interviews with police and practitioners of these religions, participant observation of police trainings, as well as ride-alongs with police officers in the United States, this project explores issues of racism, racialization and religion in the policing of African Diaspora practices. The project will contribute to an understanding of how racialized policing, effects everyday life for these alternative religious subjects who occupy mainly marginalized locations.

* Student Engagement

CTP offers students opportunities to work with faculty members on projects related to policing. Interested students should contact the Center. Currently, the Center is looking for students with experience with statistical software to work with the research team on the New Orleans Policing Project. PU-UTokyo Strategic Partnership Project plans to provide an opportunity for students to travel to Tokyo during the Olympics in summer of 2021.