Together, Princeton professors ‘humanize the data on policing’

Written by
Eveline Chao ’02
June 16, 2020

Like many across the nation, anthropology professor Laurence Ralph and American studies professor Aisha M. Beliso-De Jesús have been gripped by the recent protests over the killing of George Floyd. “The events of the past few days represent the tensions with the police that are always bubbling beneath the surface of American society,” Ralph wrote from his home on June 2. For him, answers to those tensions “require no less than a radical transformation in how we understand the contexts in which police deploy force and how police violence impacts communities of color in the United States.”

Ralph and Beliso-De Jesús both study policing, but from different angles. Ralph has written about gang and police violence in Chicago, while Beliso-De Jesús studies the criminalization and policing of African diaspora religions like Santeria. The two — who co-teach an introductory course called “Policing and Militarization Today” — realized it would be helpful if scholars doing police research had a place to “think together,” as Beliso-De Jesús puts it. The class focuses on policing on a transnational scale, but also examines immigration police and border patrols, important areas in need of attention right now, according to Beliso-De Jesús.

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