Call for papers - Media and the Police State - Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media (2024)
Call for papers: Media and the Police State
Editor: Soumik Pal
Special Section of Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media
At a time when the primary function of the neoliberal states across the world is to maintain the global capital order, the state mainly makes its presence felt in the lives of populations through punitive mechanisms. This has given rise to a situation of extreme control and regulation in which the police acts with impunity in displays of unbridled power. Following Loïc Wacquant, we emphasize analyses that incorporate critiques of both the ‘material’ and ‘symbolic’ dimensions of the police state. The material aspect focuses on the political economy of the police state, and the symbolic functions via discursive realms in which certain populations are deliberately demarcated as ‘criminal’ in order to justify the presence of the police (Wacquant 2009).
In the proposed journal section, we attempt to understand if, and how, media and popular culture legitimize the role of the police as a state apparatus in the governance of subjects. The police specifically targets those groups that the state deems ‘deviant’, including racial, religious, sexual, and caste minorities, constructing the presence of a permanent ‘other’ in the process. Mass media representations support the security state by creating paranoia and fear, which makes it seem that stringent and pervasive policing, with its role of ‘fighting crime’, is necessary and natural.
The neoliberal project of regulation involves a top-down approach to policing in which the ruling elite is responsible for who, how, and what to police. The role of the police is essentially tied to the protection of private property. In addition to this, neoliberalism has propelled the expansion of the police state, wherein models of security and incarceration followed in the United States are being replicated in other countries. Thus, policing functions to impose a perpetual ‘state of exception’, in which the state has the right to kill, arrest, imprison, maim, and violate. The state acquires impunity for its extra-judicial actions, justifying them in the name of identity, order, and/or national security. Such acts are often glorified via media representations as examples of the bravado, honour, and patriotism of the police. For instance, in India, extra-judicial killings are called “encounters”, a term made popular by Bollywood films.
As the neoliberal crisis deepens across the globe, with the climate crisis being its horizon, the vast majority of the working population of the world are being minoritized (while remaining the numerical majority). The ruling classes are tightening their iron grip over society by criminalizing minorities through means of coercion and direct violence, the police being a primary one. This is why a radical understanding of the police, as agents of the ruling classes, is imperative now. As media scholars, we want to point out that the transgressions of the police are not a bug in the system but a feature. In these desperate times, an examination of the police’s role in society should not aim for a ‘return to normal’ from a recent past but ruthlessly question why the police exist in society in the first place. We believe that only by radically questioning the punitive imagination can we begin to think of creative, life-affirming alternatives to society in a time when humanity is rapidly moving towards an endgame situation.
This special section is the second part of a series titled ‘Media and the Police State’, the first part of which will be published in the Winter 2023 issue of Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media. We invite articles, essays, and reflective pieces examining how various types of media, including news, cinema (popular, documentary, avant-garde, experimental etc.), television, digital, and social media shape the perception of the police through representation. For this issue of the special section, we are especially interested in articles from/about the Global South and the rights of sexually marginalized populations such as transpersons.
Contributions can address but not be limited to:
How do representations of police in popular and news media influence their functioning and their relationship with the citizenry they police?
What are the linkages between the representations of police and their use by the state machinery for the purpose of propaganda? What kinds of media are used for this purpose?
What are the historical and material origins of the cop film, cop hero trope, police procedurals, forensic TV shows etc.?
What is the role of extra-legal/ quasi-state agents such as armed gangs, violent mobs, mercenaries who commit atrocities in tandem with the police at the behest of the state, and how are they featured in the media?
What are the structural and historical connections between the police and media industries?
Is the United States the exception in being a police state or are similar processes at work in other parts of the world? How do these connections play out in relation to the culture industries of these states?
What is the role of the police and its representations in maintaining hegemonic societal structures within publics? How does the police play a role in the fashioning of publics on the basis of caste, ethnicity, race, religion, language etc.?
How are movements and practices of resistance to police brutality and violence represented in popular culture? How do these representations function as extensions of on-ground resistance against the police?
How are glorified representations of the police related to the right-wing, neoliberal turn of states?
How do representations of the police construct masculinity or allow for diverse expressions? Also, how are these representations challenged, resisted, and mitigated?
What is the relationship of the police in maintaining the hegemony of global finance?
How does the media construct the idea of “crime”? How does the media create paranoia about crime and security that only the police can “solve”? How does that uphold the surveillance state?
How can we theorize the relationship between the police and the use of digital technologies such as face recognition software, predictive policing, artificial intelligence etc.?
How is modern policing refiguring questions of sovereignty in society?
We welcome a range of submissions including article length essays, short reflection papers,
opinion pieces, book reviews, film reviews and review articles.
All submissions will undergo a peer-review and revision process prior to publication.
Submissions should be original work, neither previously published nor under consideration for publication elsewhere. The text of the submission should not contain any references or indications of the contributors’ identity to facilitate a blind peer review. Please use APA citation style. Please submit your document in a MS Word-compatible format.
Please email your submissions to Soumik Pal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All abstracts should be submitted by 15 November 2023.
Authors will be informed of our decision latest by 31 December 2023.
Final papers will be due on 31 March 2024.
Bio-note of editor:
Soumik Pal works as Assistant Professor of Media, Communication and Journalism in the Department of Political Science and Sociology at North South University, Dhaka. He holds a PhD in Film and Media Studies from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. His work has been published in journals such as Studies in South Asian Film and Media, NORMA: International Journal for Masculinity Studies, and edited volumes on Bollywood cinema and language politics in India. He has worked on the phenomenon of stardom and celebrity as commodity, notions of masculinity as seen in Hindi cinema from the 1970s to the contemporary era, and how that has informed Indian politics leading up to the current Hindutva era. His research interests include neoliberal cultures concerning bureaucracy, finance, construction of gender representations, and the rise of fascism.