Police-Translations. The Construction of Cultural Difference in European Police Work Call for papers for a conference on 13-15 February 2020 at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

The recent increase in the numbers of refugees and asylum seekers has made it obvious that Europe is changing rapidly, accelerating its on-going but highly contested transformation into linguistically and ethnically more heterogeneous societies.

EVIFA Literatursuche

Zukünftige Termine
« Mai 2019 »
Mo Di Mi Do Fr Sa So
29 30 1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31 1 2


  • Was Call For PapersPolice-Translations. The Construction of Cultural Difference in European Police Work Call for papers for a conference on 13-15 February 2020 at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
  • Wann bis (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)
  • Wo Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
  • Termin herunterladen iCal Datei herunterladen


The police are arguably one of the most crucial - and most discussed - state organisations that interact with an increasingly diverse clientele often labelled simply 'migrants'. The media and the public look mainly at such interactions when extraordinary events happen, like those on New Year's Eve 2015 in Cologne or in the case of the mass eviction of the Calais migrant camp in 2016, and highlight cultural differences. In our workshop, we want to explore every-day, mundane police-(non)citizen interactions as sites of translation/interpretation between languages and normative beliefs. How do police officers interact with citizens who do not speak, or only barely speak, the official language? Beyond that, how do they translate between, negotiate or validate normative ideas and beliefs? On the other side of the interface, how do refugees, migrants and members of minority groups improvise linguistically, handle new forms of knowledge and manage their insecure (legal) status in these interactions? In what situations do actors reject translations?

One widespread explanatory trope, shared by the media, the public and some scholars, is that underlying cultural differences account for the ways in which such encounters unfold. In this perspective, 'culture' is understood as a pre-existing framework that actors 'carry', so to speak, with them into interactions and which largely determines interactional outcomes. We rather want to go beyond this perspective and discuss how cultural difference is constantly produced - or occasionally dissolved - in everyday police work. We understand cultural difference not as a determining factor but as a possible, dynamic result of these interactions and of the negotiations taking place within them.

We are looking for empirically grounded contributions from various European countries to develop a comparative perspective on these issues. The variations at the police (non) citizen interface suggest that transformation processes towards more heterogeneous societies occur at different rates and with diverse dynamics, against the background of historically distinct experiences reaching far back into the 20th and 19th century, if not longer. We are looking forward to jointly developing a field of study and generating robust concepts in a highly politicised field, bringing together anthropology, criminology, history, sociology and other social sciences as well other humanities and linguistics.

Please submit your abstract of not more than 300 words by 1 June 2019 to polizei-translationen@uni-mainz.de If your abstract is selected, you will be asked to send a full version of the paper by 1 February 2020.


Nähere Informationen

Jan Beek, Thomas Bierschenk, Annalena Kolloch, Bernd Meyer

polizei-translationen[ at ]uni-mainz.de