Into the twenty-first century
Resistance, respectability and Black deaths in police custody
in Black resistance to British policing
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This chapter investigates the role of women in anti-racist campaigns against policing in twenty-first-century Britain. It argues that imperial discourses about gender norms and respectability have helped to shape how race and crime are constituted in the contemporary period. The chapter argues that the colonial roots of race and gender norms are fundamental to conceptualising one of the key findings of the field research which informs this chapter – that women lead almost every campaign against a black death in police custody in post-2011 England. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with activists, ethnographic observations at protests and scholar-activist participation in campaigns against black deaths in custody, this chapter demonstrates how eighteenth- and nineteenth-century imperial discourses on respectability and nation do not simply contextualise racialised policing in the contemporary period, but expose the racialised and gendered norms that legitimise racist policing in modern Britain.

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