Race and the Origins of Modern Policing
Matthew Guariglia ’12, Senior Policy Analyst at Electronic Frontier Foundation
This talk will show how the modern police department, rather than originating as a “colorblind” institution, was built to explicitly consider race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality when enforcing laws and repressing individuals and communities. From searching for formerly enslaved African Americans, managing imagined Irish Catholic criminality, surveilling Jewish, Italian, and Chinese communities—police departments look and act the way they do because their early encounters with race and ethnicity led to periods of experimentation and growth. Central to the story of policing in the United States are the tactics and technologies cultivated by colonialism as oppressive tactics traveled home from the U.S. occupation of the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico as well as from British and French imperialism in African and Asia. This history reveals the deep-rooted fault lines in American policing and the thinking that produced them in the first place. A book sale and signing will follow the presentation.
This program is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, the departments of American studies and history, and the law & policy program.
After leaving Dickinson College in 2012, Dr. Matthew Guariglia earned a master’s degree at New York University and a Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut where his dissertation on the history of policing immigrants in New York City won the 2020 outstanding dissertation award from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society. In addition to his new book, Police and the Empire City: Race and the Origins of Modern Policing in New York, out now from Duke University Press, he is also the co-editor, along with Jelani Cobb, of the Essential Kerner Commission Report (Liverright, 2021). He serves as a senior policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the world’s foremost organizations focusing on technology and civil rights, where he works on police surveillance and national security technology policy, and holds affiliations at the University of California, San Francisco School of Law, and the University of Indiana. His bylines have appeared in NBC News, The Washington Post, Slate, VICE, Time magazine, the Journal of American Ethnic History, and most recently in the peer-review journal Surveillance and Society where he also serves on the journal’s advisory board.