International scientific research projects coordinated by Susana Durão (principal researcher)

    • Policing and Urban Imaginaries: New Security Formats in Southern Cities

      2015 – 2018
      Susana Durão and Daniel Seabra Lopes (Principal Researcher), 18 senior researchers, 5 research grants, and 3 external consultants.

      This project intends to develop a comparative ethnography of new security formats emerging in contemporary urban contexts of both southern Europe (especially within the PIGS group of countries) and the Global South. The focus will be centered on novel policing projects developing at the margins of the state (cf. Das, 2004) ― in a grey area somewhere between the military and the civil, the legal and the illegal, the formal and the informal, the visible and the invisible, violence and peace. Policing will be here viewed as a regular, day-to-day activity, implying planning, routine and multiple interaction with people with an impact on their lifestyle, moralities, and frequently a means for creating and recreating social relations.

      As J. Martin recently stated: “Ethnography of police might best begin from a reflexive consideration of the productive impossibility of proscriptive definition, by simply paying attention to how policing manifests in a given social world” (2013: 163) enabling the comparison between different formats and arrangements emerging in various cultural arrangements. A series of policing examples will be researched; ranging from public agents and private security companies to third sector activism to independent journalism to highly politicized confrontational groups such as Anonymous. In each of these cases, the idea will be to gather perspectives from both policing supply and demand, avoiding more common circumscriptions that usually lead to one-sided ethnographies. Moreover, countering the tendency to look at the proliferation of those diverse security projects as mere consequences of the dissipation of traditional state authority under Neoliberalism (cf. Comaroff & Comaroff, 2014) or of the upper class desire to isolate itself from the rest of society (cf. Caldeira, 2001), the project looks at such policing activities as flexible models of social organization and transformation capable of bringing forth new forms of sociality and moral economies of violence, fear and security (cf. Fassin, 2009). This perspective has relevance not only in theoretical but also in applied terms, namely through a series of extension activities involving discussion groups and training sessions with the aim of promoting a security culture respectful of both legal and moral limits.

    • COPP-LAB: Circulations of Police in Portugal, Lusophone Africa and Brazil

      2013 – 2015
      Susana Durão (Principal Researcher), 8 senior researchers, 3 research grants, and 5 external consultants.

      Recent years have witnessed powerful social and political dynamics leading to the restructuring of security governance and, more specifically, the models of policing applied in Lusophone African countries. The most notable political transformations occurring since 1975, stemming from processes of national independence and, in a number of cases, the cessation of devastating conflicts.

      The promotion of a new leadership cadre, through the replacement of the past warlords and army chiefs, was initiated with the creation of internal conditions for higher and professional training of police chiefs and commissioners. At the same time, a process of change within the higher ranks started to take place in the Portuguese Public Security Police (PSP), through the installation in 1984 of the Superior Institute of Police Sciences and Internal Security (ISCPSI), Portugal therefore emerged as the key axis of higher-level training fpr police-officers from Lusophone Africa (these exchanges recently extending to include Guinea Bissau). International protocols are in place going back to 1989, and this process of returning to the former Metropole is being repeated across other public sectors: health, education, military, and justice.

      In Portugal, Brazil and African countries, public policing, police national models and the professionalization of high and mid-rank policemen are emerging and transforming. COPP-LAB is thereby compelled to scrutinize the theme of cooperation, transnationalism and mobility. What kind of police knowledge-transfer, capitals and values are in process?
      COPP-LAB has 4 main objectives:

      1. Mapping African Police chiefs in Portugal: In the track of professionalization. Portugal emerges as a ‘pivot-country’ in the transnational level of higher training for policemen during the postcolonial period of the last twenty years. Between 1984 and 2012, from more than 700 aspirants (studying candidates) graduated at ISCPSI’s integrated Master course for police cadets, 100 are PALOP cooperating students.

      2. Studying Police branding: Images of a Lusophone Brand? Is it possible that a Lusophone network is being formatted in the market of security, in a world where more than 272.9 million people speak Portuguese? Is there a new policing paradigm being generated? Brazil kicks in as a potential actor, with programs such as the recently created Police Pacifying Units (UPP).

      3. Police Chiefs in the Way Back Home: Agents of Change? For the African trained abroad, the professional progression comes attached to the geographical mobility and transculturalization. The cadets must be trained in the transnationality in order to engage in the positions of the national public administration and act locally. What does it mean to be a sub-commissioner, a police chief or leader, taking into account the personal processes of internalization of different knowledge and the simultaneous circulation of the field of policing sciences?

      4. COPP-LAB aims to contribute for the discussion of anthropological theories of mobility. The discussion is amplified with fluxes, circuits and transactions of people, models of state, networks, institutions, policies, diplomacy, and transnational cultures.

      Within the project, ethnographic research methodologies will be developed and employed, as well as documental, historical and demographic research. Analysis of the experiences of cadets and professionals at different stages of both their professional and family life cycles is envisgaed. Social, political and relevant family networks will also be objects of the study.

    • Unveiling police(men) histories. Urban policing in Portugal, 1860-1960s

      2011 – 2014
      Susana Durão (Principal Researcher), 4 senior researchers, 2 research grants, and 5 external consultants.

      The aim of this project is to sketch out a social and institutional history of the Portuguese urban police between the 1860’s, when a set of debates around the need of a modern police system and new public safety policies emerged, and the 1960’s with the peak and beginning of decline of Estado Novo authoritarian regime. The project seeks to study the Polícia Civil, created in 1867, transformed in Polícia Cívica in 1911, and in Polícia de Segurança Pública in 1927. Even though the project is mainly concentrated in Lisbon’s case, all urban policing in Portugal will be considered. Portuguese history is notoriously marked by the macrocephaly of Lisbon. Urban policing policies, institutional model, and human resources were thought, implemented and displayed having the Capital in mind, and then extended to the whole country. Therefore, by studying Lisbon we can also infer the national trends in urban policing in the considered period.

      The project uses the catchword “unveiling police(men) histories” in the title because it sets a research agenda centered upon the history of the infrastructure that frames the action of the police, i.e. the material and technological culture, and the social, anthropological and moral conditions that rendered effective the enforcement of public order, the countervailing of crime and the upholding of hygienic conditions, public health and traffic circulation. Even tough this line of research does not neglect the most visible political endeavors of police action upon the central State, it is grounded, above all, on methodological perspectives rooted in the bottom-up construction of the field of study. The study of material resources available to modern state apparatus, and its transformation in the last two hundred years, has been a field of systematic attention by historians. This project intends to look more carefully to the construction and reproduction of order from the point of view of modern state fringes and to its actors. Police has been identified in the last forty years by social scientists as one of the main street-level bureaucracies (where the degree of discretion is higher), we intend then to consider this characteristic in an historical perspective.The project also places emphasis in a comparative view, given that modern police is marked by a transnational circulation of models and experiences; while we can distinguish single national histories, we can also observe a European common process of change. To identify the singularities and continuities present in the Portuguese case (from the liberal conception to the authoritarian transformation) in the European context is a key goal to this project.

      The overall approach is grounded in four main thematic axes: the physical insertion of the police in the city, with the development of specific organizational strategies (police stations and beat patrols); the use of technology in policing practices; the place of, and effects on, the police of rapid and radical political change; the building of the police socio-professional community through methodologies that make use of social memory. With these different, but complementary, approaches we can explore the multiple facets that encompassed the development of urban police in Portugal.

      From the outset this project is conceived as an interdisciplinary project, considering contributions from History, Anthropology and Political Science, in the belief that only combining theories and methodologies of different disciplinary fields we can effectively achieve the understanding of the complexities involved in modern urban policing phenomenon. This project is also seen as step in the consolidation of an important international field of historical study in Portugal: firstly, because is a continuation of a previous project financed by FCT (POCTI/ANT/47227/2002); and, secondly, because it combines researchers that in the last years have actively researched in this field. A final word in this introduction just to mention that the project intends moreover to have a distinct interface with the Police University Institute (Instituto Superior de Ciências Policiais e Segurança Interna), trough periodical conferences, and with the Police staff itself (Polícia de Segurança Pública) trough a web site about the history of Portuguese police.

    • Women in Police Stations: Violent crime and gender relationships

      2009 – 2012
      Susana Durão (Principal Researcher), 5 senior researchers, 1 research grant, and 3 external consultants.

      This project aims to analyse the Portuguese institutional setting, the politics and atmosphere of how women are attended in police precincts, from the perspective of gender violence related crimes and gender social relationships guided by asymmetries. As such, the central methodology is based on the production of ethnographies in Portuguese urban precincts, albeit not exclusively. There will be a survey of policy-making and laws, resources, investments, distribution of services, organisation of spaces and the role played by police agents; in particular that played by women in the Police Force when dealing with such crimes. The project raises some questions: does the denunciation of crimes against women call for the dynamics of cultural change in a police organisation that is still predominantly masculine and seems to advocate a masculine ethos? Have there been changes facilitating the framing of police response to and understanding of this type of crime? Is there some relation between the greater presence and action of women in the Police Force and a growing institutional sensitivity concerning “gender crimes”? What degree of symbolic and material investment has there been for the resolution of problems that either concern the basic rights of women or presents them as common citizens in the eyes of the law?

      It is vital to analyse the concepts in use for this type of crime, the ambiguities of institutional understanding and arrangements viewed in police actions, as well as the production of professional identities, gender, moral and ethics – the images of what the police are and what they should be. Features defining gender, ethnicity, social class, professional status and residence are indelibly present in the responses to this type of crime in a street-level bureaucracy such as the Police Force. It is, therefore, pertinent to find out what ideas of “person” are involved here, for both the police officer and the victim. Theoretically, crimes against women raise still wider problems, such as the debate between the positive vision of citizens’ equality in access to justice and the negative vision of the “judicialization” of society, of family relations and the private life, that is, the State being seen as a “technology of power” (and also as a possible agent of “double victimisation”). Accordingly, it is fundamental to involve the police themselves in this argument since they are central actors in the contemporary processes of social and moral order, and in the production of ideas on gender, family, violence, crime, rights/equality. This study will have three methodological stages: document analysis and problematic framework; an ethnographic approach; and an extensive survey within the Police Force.