As police racism unsettles Britain’s tolerant self-image, Black resistance to British policing details the activism which made movements like Black Lives Matter possible. Colonial legacies and newer forms of state power are used to understand racism beyond prejudice and the interpersonal: black resistance confronts a global system of racial classification, control, exploitation and violence. Adam Elliott-Cooper offers the first detailed account of grassroots anti-racist resistance to policing in Britain since the 2011 ‘riots’. British racism stretches back further than Windrush and beyond the shores of the British mainland. Imperial cultures and policies, as well as colonial war and policing, are used to highlight connections between these histories and contemporary racisms. But this is a book about resistance, considering black liberation movements in the twentieth century while utilising a decade of activist research covering spontaneous rebellion, campaigns and protest. Drawing connections between histories of resistance and different kinds of black struggle against policing is vital, it is argued, if we are to challenge the cutting edge of police and prison power which harnesses new and dangerous forms of surveillance, violence and criminalisation. The police and prison systems are seen as beyond reform, and the book argues that to imagine a world free from racism we must work towards a system free from the violence and exploitation which would make that possible.
Race Talk is about racism and multilingual communication. The book draws on original, ethnographic research conducted on heterogeneous and multiethnic street markets in Napoli, southern Italy, in 2012. Here, Neapolitan street vendors worked alongside migrants from Senegal, Nigeria, Bangladesh and China as part of an ambivalent, cooperative and unequal quest to survive and prosper. A heteroglossia of different kinds of talk revealed the relations of domination and subordination between people. It showed how racialised hierarchies were enforced, as well as how ambivalent and novel transcultural solidarities emerged in everyday interaction. Street markets in Napoli provided important economic possibilities for both those born in the city, and those who had arrived more recently. However, anti-immigration politics, austerity and urban regeneration projects increasingly limited people’s ability to make a living in this way. In response, the street vendors organised politically. Their collective action was underpinned by an antihegemonic, multilingual talk through which they spoke back to power. Since that time, racism has surged in Napoli, and across the world, whilst human movement has continued unabated, because of worsening political, economic and environmental conditions. The book suggests that the edginess of multilingual talk – amongst people diversified in terms of race, legal status, religion and language, but united by an understanding of their potential disposability – offers useful insights into the kinds of imaginaries that will be needed to overcome the politics of borders and nationalism.