TraCe Research Colloquium at Marburg University

Researchers discuss police violence in public colloquium

On January 25 and 26, 2024, a research colloquium on police violence took place at the Philipps University Marburg to bring to­gether different perspectives and re­searchers to discuss aspects, patterns, and findings on police violence in Germany as well as in other parts of the world. It was organized by Prof Dr Susanne Buckley-Zistel and Dr Mariel Reiss from the Center for Conflict Studies.

The first day began with the screening of the film Ultraviolence (2020) to a full room of TraCe members, students and staff as well as in­terested public. The award-winning docu­mentary, directed by Dr Ken Fero, focuses on police violence in the UK. Victims of fatal police violence are portrayed and re­membered, and their families are accompanied in their search and fight for jus­tice.

The screening was followed by a discussion with Ken Fero, moderated by Dr Mina Ibrahim from the Center for Conflict Studies. In ad­dition to asking questions about the art and design elements of the movie the audience had the opportunity to en­gage with Fero to dis­cuss his experience while filming, as well as the personal motivation behind his work. 

On the second day, the organizers officially welcomed the partici­pants in the fully-occupied conference room. On the first of three panels, the presenters Laila Abdul-Rahman (Goethe University, Frank­furt), Dr Jan Beek (Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz) and Dr Halil Can (Technical University of Berlin) dis­cussed different aspects of the connection between the in­ternal structures of police institutions and police violence. The panel was moderated by Prof. Dr Susanne Buckley-Zistel.

The second panel was centred around police violence in the con­text of protests and racist police violence. Emmanuel Schlichter (Green Legal Impact) gave in­sights into the increasingly repressive police treatment of climate protests, and ­ (Amnesty International) dis­cussed human rights standards in the context of police interventions at protests. Biplap Basu  (ReachOut Berlin) con­cluded the panel with a contribution on racialized policing and the use of excessive force in this con­text. The panel was mo­derated by Prof Dr Felix Anderl.

The third and final panel was mo­derated by Dr Mariel Reiss. The speakers focused on the perspective of people and groups affected by police violence. First, Assistant Prof Azadeh Akbari (University of Twente) gave an in­sight into her work on police and state surveillance in the context of women's rights in Iran as well as the re­sistance against this state-driven oppression. This was followed by the con­tribution of Dr Sonja John (Berlin School of Economics and Law) on the impact on the relatives who lost family members be­cause of police violence. Dr Ariadne Natal (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt) con­cluded the panel with a presentation of her research on the in­fluence of structural factors on police violence in Brazil and the Philippines.

The day was con­cluded by a last round of reflections by all panelists and the organizers. The various aspects and perspectives that were dis­cussed during this research colloquium gave an insight to the complexity of in­fluences and factors behind police’s excessive use of force and point to barriers as well as opportunities in tackling these issues. The ex­change of researchers and activists brought together multi­faceted perspectives; what remains is the need for more research on the topic as well as interdis­ciplinary knowledge production within and beyond the academic debates.

Please find the full program of the workshop here.