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Policing the City: An Ethno-Graphic. Didier Fassin and Jake Raynal in conversation with Alisse Waterston and Fonda Shen

Public Humanities, Justice Forum

dateMarch 9, 2022 timeWednesday, 6:00pm–8:00pm EST locationVirtual Event location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia UniversityThis event will take place in person at the Heyman Center and virtually over Zoom.
  • This event will take place in person at the Heyman Center and virtually over Zoom. We ask that EVERYONE REGISTER to receive a link to the event.

  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • Columbia Maison Française
  • Center for Contemporary Critical Thought
  • Department of Anthropology
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Justice-in-Education Initiative
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Cover of Policing the City: An Ethno-Graphic by Didier Fassin, Jake Raynal, and Frédéric Debomy with event info

Policing the City: An Ethno-graphic follows the crucial insights anthropologist and sociologist Didier Fassin relays from the months he spent shadowing officers of an anticrime squad overseeing low-income neighborhoods outside of Paris. Originally published as the landmark study Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing, Policing the City expertly distills hundreds of pages of insightful reporting into a vibrant and eminently readable graphic novel.

In the wake of an unprecedented global reckoning with structural racism, this deeply researched graphic novel is necessary reading for the present day. Policing the City illuminates a clear direction to reform a system with problems that relate nearly identically to our own.

Didier Fassin is a French anthropologist and sociologist. He is the James D. Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and his previous books include Prison Worlds, The Will to Punish, and Death of a Traveller.

Jake Raynal studied applied arts at Paris’s printing academy, the École Estienne, and has been making comics since 1994.

Alisse Waterston is Presidential Scholar and Professor, City University of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author or editor of seven books including most recently the graphic novel, Light in Dark Times: The Human Search for Meaning (University of Toronto Press; 2020; illustrated by Charlotte Corden). A Fellow of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies (SCAS) in the Programmes in Transnational Processes, Structural Violence, and Inequality (2020-present), she served as President of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in 2015-17. She is editor of the book series, Intimate Ethnography for Berghahn Books and advisor for Otherwise Magazine. Recent publications are Making Light in Dark Times: The Comic Strip (Anthropology News 2021), “Imagining World Solidarities for a Livable Future,” (kritisk etnografi – Swedish Journal of Anthropology 2020), the short story, “Interiors” (Ethnographic Fiction feature, Anthropology Now 2020) and the forthcoming “Just Imagine” in philoSOPHIA: A journal of transcontinental Feminism (2022).

Fonda Shen is the Executive Coordinator at the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and the Program Director at the Initiative for a Just Society, where she works on active criminal defense and impact litigation cases, engages in research and writing on prison and police abolition and critical theory, and coordinates public seminars on critical theory and social justice. Prior to joining the Initiative for a Just Society, Fonda was the Elisabeth Ruyter Fellow at the Southern Center for Human Rights in the summer and fall of 2020, where she worked on impact litigation and death penalty cases and advocated for incarcerated individuals before the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles. In 2019, she spent her summer in Nashville as an intern at the Federal Defender Office for the Middle District of Tennessee, where she worked on death penalty cases in the capital habeas unit. She graduated from Columbia University in 2021 with her bachelor's degree in political science. She wrote her senior thesis in political theory, titled "The Trouble With Innocence" on the detrimental effects and shifting definitions of the notion of innocence and was awarded departmental honors. While a student, Fonda was a research assistant at the CCCCT and tutored on Rikers Island through the Justice-in-Education Initiative at the SoF/HC. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has also been a member of The Digital Abolitionist.

Neni Panourgiá (moderator and organizer) is an anthropologist, the Academic Adviser at the Justice-in-Education Initiative, and Adjunct Associate Professor at the Prison Education Program at Columbia University. She has carried out ethnographic work on the meaning of history and politics, the institutionalization of the commons, and on confinement, torture, and the apparatus of discipline. Her books have received many awards including the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing, the Edmund Keeley Book Prize in Modern Greek Studies, the PROSE award, the Chicago Folklore Prize, and the International Society for Ethnohistory. Her essays can be found in Mousse, Documenta, American Ethnologist, angelaki, Public Culture, and elsewhere. Her new book Λέρος: Η γραμματική του εγκλεισμού (Leros. The Grammar of Confinement) was published in July 2020 in Greek (Nefeli Publishers). It is in its second edition and is forthcoming shortly in English.

Attendance at SOF/Heyman events will follow Columbia-issued guidelines as they continue to develop. Given the current recommendations, there is limited seating for the JIE community and other COLUMBIA AFFILIATES only. For everyone else, we're planning to livestream this event, allowing for virtual attendance.

This event will not be recorded.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.