From Overseer to Officer: A Brief History of British Policing Through Afro-Diasporic Music Culture

Lambros Fatsis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


Policing and music are rarely thought together in mainstream criminological literature, despite the insights that their relationship offers on how and why policing emerged as an instrument for suppressing musical expression throughout the African diaspora, from the era of colonial slavery to the present day. This chapter traces the origins of British policing to its colonial roots, by demonstrating how colonial militias were formed to police the music of the enslaved as a sign of rebellion, insurrection and disorder. Drawing on Afro-diasporic music –as an indicative case study– policing and racism will be contextualised as concurrent, constitutive and dependent on each other; exposing the historical mission and function of policing as a force of racial violence. By rethinking police racism through Afro-diasporic music(s), this chapter encourages a (Southern) decolonial approach to police scholarship – to reintroduce the police as guardians of a social and political order that is marked by racial hierarchies, whose roots lie in the imperial ideology that created racism, “race” and policing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSouthern and Postcolonial Perspectives on Policing, Security and Social Order
EditorsPeter Squires, Roxana Cavalcanti, Zoha Waseem
PublisherBristol University Press
ISBN (Print)9781529223668
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2023


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