About

 

This international and interdisciplinary conference is the first of its kind worldwide. Bringing together scholars from the United States, the UK, and continental Europe, “Black America and the Police” traces the vexed relationship between African American communities and law enforcement to reveal the histories and mentalities that anchor suspicion on both sides.  

 
hands up don't shoot gesture by a black male

hands up don't shoot gesture by a black male

 
 

Despite the centrality of racial histories in the constitution of American criminal justice, the impact of police power on African American expression continues to be a blind spot of American Studies. 

The conference analyzes past and contemporary tensions between uniformed police and black legal subjects in order to compile and assess a vast archive of cultural emblems in different media that document and critique a mutual loss of trust resulting in tragic incidents of excessive, often deadly violence.  


 
 
FERGUSON, MO/USA - AUGUST 30, 2014: A crowd gathers at makeshift memorial near where black teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

FERGUSON, MO/USA - AUGUST 30, 2014: A crowd gathers at makeshift memorial near where black teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

FERGUSON, MO/USA - AUGUST 15, 2014: Man holds hands up at the site of destroyed Quick Trip after Police Chief Thomas Jackson release of the name of the officer that shot Michael Brown.

FERGUSON, MO/USA - AUGUST 15, 2014: Man holds hands up at the site of destroyed Quick Trip after Police Chief Thomas Jackson release of the name of the officer that shot Michael Brown.

 
 

We scrutinize the ways racism still permeates social structures, and to retrace the legacy of oppression—from slavery and segregation to the New Jim Crow— that allows racism to endure. 

For this purpose, the organizer has assembled members of academia (historians, sociologists, criminologists, political scientists, and cultural theorists), as well as artists and community activists.  


 
 
WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 13: A protester holds a sign during a march against police shootings and racism during a rally in Washington, DC on December 13, 2014. 

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 13: A protester holds a sign during a march against police shootings and racism during a rally in Washington, DC on December 13, 2014. 

 
 

Locally, we raise questions of race and criminal justice that seem specific to US culture, but are gaining urgency in post-refugee crisis Europe. 

Internationally, we seek to establish the new research area of race and police power and in so doing challeng American Studies to deliver on its interdisciplinary promise on an issue of political salience. 


 
 
MATREI AM BRENNER, AUSTRIA - 03 APRIL 2016: The Austrian police try to control the protest against the closing of the border between Austria and Italy during the #Noborder rally held near Brennero.

MATREI AM BRENNER, AUSTRIA - 03 APRIL 2016: The Austrian police try to control the protest against the closing of the border between Austria and Italy during the #Noborder rally held near Brennero.