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Policing and its spatial imaginaries

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Elaine Campbell



This is the final published version of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology, 2016.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This paper takes critical stock of the spatial imaginaries which currently map the policing landscape. 'We criminologists' pay scant attention to spatial theorising, as if to do so would not only upset our shared understandings of policing as a territorialised, bordered, scaled and/or networked set of practices, but also undermine embedded vocabularies which refer to such spatialities so unproblematically. Constrained by its own aspatial imagination, criminology leaves itself poorly equipped to capture the ontological and political complexities of contemporary policing geographies. Turning to poststructuralist geography and its innovative work in 'thinking space relationally', the paper draws on the insights of topological approaches to space to work through the difference that a topological reading of policing spaces might make. In so doing, the paper not only introduces an alternative, conceptual vocabulary for talking about space as folded, twisted, stretched, and entangled, but also (ambitiously) opens up an interdisciplinary dialogue at the intersections of criminology, policing/security studies and human geography, which takes space seriously. To work through the analytical and political potential of a topological framework, the paper draws on Schatzki’s 'site ontology' to signal what a relational reading of policing spatialities might entail.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Campbell E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology

Year: 2016

Volume: 8

Issue: 2

Pages: 71-89

Online publication date: 01/07/2016

Acceptance date: 27/04/2016

Date deposited: 28/04/2016

ISSN (print): 2166-8094

Publisher: Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology