As one currently sees global protests for black lives sparking the streets, in the midst of a pandemic, a systematic revision of understandings of policing and security, which not only fail to account for but rather render impossible black lives, seems to be long-overdue. This talk discusses various modalities of policing black lives and abolitionist horizons. Departing from accounts on racialized policing in European contexts, especially with regard to blackness, I discuss the coloniality of (modern) policing as the condition of un-breathing. Applying a black feminist framework to historical as well as current trends of policing black lives in Europe, I interrogate mundane registers of structural violence – from the transnational to the translocal, from the prison cell and the lager to the urban or domestic space, from the land to the shores and the sea. Linking Fanon’s analysis of ‘combat breathing’ to black feminist theoretizations and by drawing on a collaborative research project with black social movements in continental Europe, I show how the metaphor and materiality of un-breathing haunts black subjects through registers of violence enacted by policing. Finally, I discuss abolitionist horizons as a necessary precondition for a world in which black and other(ed) lives can breathe.
Dr. Vanessa E. Thompson is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in Social and Cultural Anthropology at European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder). She was previously a Fellow at the Department of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a research associate at the Institute of Sociology at Goethe-University Frankfurt (Main). Her research and teaching are focused on critical racism studies, black studies, feminist theories, post- and decolonial feminist theories and methodologies, and transformative and abolitionist justice. In her current project, she analyses forms of policing blackness in European contexts from a black feminist perspective and looks at abolitionist alternatives.
Curated by Sandra Noeth (HZT Berlin – MA SODA).
With: Vanessa Eileen Thompson.