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Title:Governing bodies through space, governing space through bodies: Police power, planning, and race in Central Atlanta
Author(s):Sherman, Stephen Averill
Director of Research:Doussard, Marc
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Doussard, Marc
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Martin, Jeffrey T; Kwan, Mei-Po; Harwood, Stacy A
Department / Program:Urban & Regional Planning
Discipline:Urban Planning
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):urban planning
qualitative GIS
Abstract:This exploratory research identifies strategies and propositions for studying the relationship between policing and planning institutions. Scholars within planning and cognate disciplines identify the police as agents in urban social cleansing, social stratification, and segregation. Yet these studies 1) largely portray the police as a singular, monolithic entity, focusing on patrol police exercising violence and arrest in order to sort populations. In addition to not analyzing the variety of policing agencies and competencies, these studies 2) overlook the embodied, emotional, and affective responses that diverse citizens have towards police. To address these oversights, I conducted fieldwork for seven months in Atlanta, Georgia during three visits from August 2017 through April 2018. I draw on geo-narrative (Kwan & Ding, 2008) data I gathered from 45 subjects, supplemented with 10 primary informant interviews, participant observation at 12 public meetings and other events, and archival research. Given their centrality to urban redevelopment and planning strategies per se, this study focused on the neighborhoods surrounding two institutionally, demographically, and aesthetically diverse (yet proximal) urban universities in central Atlanta: Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), and Georgia State University. I conducted a qualitative GIS approach known as geo-narratives with students at each school. This process gathered data on subjects’ affective response to police activity, while a range of qualitative methods (including interviews, archival research, and participant observation at public meetings and protests) provided data on the neighborhoods’ planning and policing contexts. Given the relative paucity of prior studies systemically linking planning and policing institutions, this dissertation employed an exploratory approach in order to identify propositions and hypotheses for future studies. I organize exploratory findings into three main concepts—Communication, Jurisdiction, and Security—each of which form the basis of the three body chapters. The first body chapter catalogues the diversity of police information gathering and sharing technologies and their potential effects on urban space. Prior planning scholarship emphasizes police information gathering, specifically surveillance cameras in securitized spaces. This chapter emphasizes police information sharing, through which the police perform the coherence of their mandate. I focus on the case of Home Park, a neighborhood near Georgia Tech, whose prosperity seems to be affected by a specific mode of police communication: Clery Act e-mail crime notices. I identify the Clery Act as an example of “urban policy in disguise,” in how it appears to shape neighborhood development outcomes. The second body chapter—Jurisdiction—evaluates the role of planning institutions in shaping, coordinating, and constituting these police messages, especially given a context where there is a large diversity of police agencies (e.g., there are 13 agencies in central Atlanta alone). I investigate three planning institutions operating at the neighborhood level: neighborhood planning unit meetings, community improvement districts, and university-centered public-private partnerships, and use frameworks from Law & Society literature to evaluate these institutions through theories of jurisdiction. I find that these diverse institutions provide legitimate forums through which the police communicate with the public and with other police institutions. They shape how citizens reach the police, how the police reach citizens, and how police agencies communicate with each other, collectively mediating the type of communication practices identified in the prior chapter. The final body chapter—Security—evaluates the effect of these police communications on diverse people. Leaning on geo-narrative data, I find that police do not necessarily provide a sense of security by fighting crime. Rather, this sense of security comes through police caretaking. Yet, I find that white and non-white people not only have different experiences of police abuse, but also police caretaking. I suggest that the expectation of police caretaking is part of whiteness’s property, and people’s diverse, affective, and individual impressions of police shape their sense of security through space. This expectation for police caretaking shapes how citizens move across the city, and demonstrates how not only violence but also police “soft” power, executed through caretaking practices, can segregate urban space. Through the three body chapters, this dissertation posits that in addition to police violence, police strategic communications can have a discrete effect on the prosperity of urban neighborhoods. Planning institutions help the police strategically communicate with the public and other police institutions. As such, planning institutions can help constitute police powers. As police strategic messages reach the public, they are received differently, and affectively, by diverse people, some of whom are predisposed to trust (or not trust) the police. This dissertation concludes by positing that planning scholars research police not only as violence work, but also as a communicative and affective mode of governance felt and experienced by individuals.
Issue Date:2019-12-16
Rights Information:copyright Stephen Averill Sherman, 2019
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-27
Date Deposited:2020-05

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