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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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Police Work

Police Work

Daily Routines and the Art of Making Do

(p.98) Chapter 4 Police Work
Violence as Usual

Marie Muschalek

Cornell University Press

This chapter investigates the nature of police work. It reconstructs the minutiae of policing in German Southwest Africa. Most of the policeman's day was filled with a series of established, unspectacular routines. Often, policemen appropriated the tasks at hand in a way that neither contradicted nor ignored given orders, but that executed them in a manner that would add distraction or excitement, or at least a sense of self-willed action to the task. In the field, policemen proceeded according to what can best be described as a tactic of making do. Policemen frequently improvised; they mixed duty and sociability, and they deployed both formal and informal techniques. Trickery paired with bureaucratic rationalization featured prominently. As a result, an organizational culture emerged in which policemen insisted on the primacy of their own experience and established a “commonsensical” course of action. More often than not, making “short shrift,” that is, resorting to the quick solution of violence, was the outcome. Integrated into daily routines, such violent behavior acquired ritualized features.

Keywords:   police work, policing, organizational culture, police routines, violence, German Southwest Africa

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