Laurence Ralph Reckons With Police Violence (EF, JP)


In the third episode of our Global Policing series, Elizabeth and John spoke back in 2020 with anthropologist Laurence Ralph about The Torture Letters: Reckoning with Police Violence (U Chicago Press, 2020). The book relates the decades-long history in which hundreds of people (mostly Black men) were tortured by the Chicago Police. Fascinatingly, it is framed as a series of open letters that explore the layers of silence and complicity that enabled torture and the activist movements that have helped to uncover this history and implement forms of collective redress and repair. Elizabeth and John ask Laurence about that genre choice, and he unpacks his thinking about responsibility, witnessing, trauma and channels of activism. Arendt’s “banality of evil” briefly surfaces.

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Global Policing 3 Laurence Ralph: Reckoning with Police Violence

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Elizabeth Ferry and John Plotz

Free-ranging discussion of books from the past that cast a sideways light on today's world. Recall This Book is hosted by Elizabeth Ferry, Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University and John Plotz, Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative.

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