Martin Thomas
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Policing the colonial crowd
Patterns of policing in the European empires during the depression years
in Writing imperial histories
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This chapter focuses on significant changes in the styles and objectives of colonial protest policing during a period of tremendous economic distress. Building on the outstanding work on colonial policing published in the last twenty years - much of it within the Studies in Imperialism series, it suggests that there is more to learn something from a political economy approach to the forms and practices of colonial policing across the European empires. The chapter shows that police actions reflected, not just the political order, but also the economic organisation prevailing in their colony. The chapter also focuses on changing colonial policing priorities of Colonel Verney Asser's successors in British, French and Dutch territories as the depression began to bite. Its aim is to demonstrate the worsening difficulties experienced by local forces as they struggled to balance the requirements of political containment, preventive policing and labour control.

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