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Criminal Justice Centre 2021/2022 Term 2 Events

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

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'(In)Security in Subordination: Postcolonial Policing in Pakistan' Talk by Dr. Zoha Waseem (University of Warwick Hybrid Event)
Room S2.09 , Social Sciences Building, Second Floor, University of Warwick

Abstract

How is insecurity created, experienced, and reproduced both within and by public security institutions in South Asia? Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork in Karachi, this paper explores how subordinate police officers experience insecurity within postcolonial policing structures due to institutional inequality and class-based hierarchical divisions, and analyses how these conditions shape their choices, loyalties, and practices. It is argued that security demands generated to protect state and capitalist interests enable interferences within the delivery of policework and impact the provision of public security. Further, institutional inequality necessitates officers’ alignment with influential public and private actors and institutions within a pluralised security landscape. This strategic alignment enables rank-and-file officers to negotiate within a rigid hierarchical structure that otherwise suppresses or limits them. Moreover, when confronted with structural barriers, subordinates rely upon informal police practices to appear indispensable and subvert the hierarchy, securing greater personal and professional gains and navigating class-based constraints. Thus, this paper explores how insecurity, within and outside postcolonial policing institutions, exacerbates uncertainties in formal policework, necessitates reliance upon ‘strategic informality’, and shapes the delivery of public security.