‘It’s like crossing a border everyday’: Police-migrant encounters in a postcolonial city

How are migrant communities policed in cities of the Global South where racially securitized discourses and colonial institutional legacies shape contemporary police practice? Critical criminologists advise that postcolonial perspectives offer valuable insights on imperial legacies, while allowing us to expand conceptual and empirical analyses of crime, policing, justice, and social order. Building on this agenda, this paper explores the intersection of postcolonial policing and immigration enforcement in the context of urban encounters between police officers and Afghan and Bengali migrants in urban Pakistan. It considers how the securitization of migration and migrants impacts their routine interactions with street-level enforcement officers. Based on ethnographic findings from Karachi, this paper argues that migrant encounters with urban policing can be captured by what I call the “postcolonial condition of policing” wherein prejudiced security policies enable expansions in police power without addressing structural inequalities within the police, facilitating reliance upon informal procedures and practices.

Zoha Waseem
Taylor and Francis Online