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Violence as UsualPolicing and the Colonial State in German Southwest Africa$
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Marie Muschalek

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501742859

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501742859.001.0001

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Of Whips, Shackles, and Guns

Of Whips, Shackles, and Guns

Tools and Technologies of Policing

(p.74) Chapter 3 Of Whips, Shackles, and Guns
Violence as Usual

Marie Muschalek

Cornell University Press

This chapter approaches practices of everyday violence through the lens of its material instruments. Three tools are examined in depth: the whip, the shackle, and the gun. Their specific use emerged as improvised responses to contextual constraints, refining ideological discourses and official policy along the way. The chapter reveals that violent technologies of policing were parceled out according to the system of status hierarchy that defined colonial order. Under what circumstances they were used, and how, were more important as a matter of social distinction than efficient practice. Symbolically, who used what tools in what situations clarified hierarchy, for instance in the general ban on Africans owning guns. Moreover, the expert or approved use of tools—professionalism—could also serve as a marker of social distinction that elevated the policemen, Africans included, above other colonial actors, such as settlers. This chapter offers a first substantiation of the thesis that police praxis drove legal rationalization. As the cases of corporal punishment and of weapons usage against fleeing subjects illustrate, policemen manufactured procedures that police headquarters reluctantly yet gradually accepted as the rule.

Keywords:   whips, shackles, guns, corporal punishment, weapons usage, police procedures, everyday violence, status hierarchy

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