Miller Center

Nora Krinitsky

History, University of Michigan

The Politics of Crime Control: Race, Policing, and State Power in Modern America

Krinitsky photo

“The Politics of Crime Control: Race, Policing, and State Power in Modern America,” examines the building of the American coercive state from the end of World War I through the early post-World War II years, with particular attention to the entwined processes of criminalization and racialization in the urban North. Chicago serves as the site of analysis, and offers an ideal site through which to consider many of the pivotal transformations in modern American history and their relationship to crime control—including urban expansion, migrations and immigrations, tensions between labor and capital, Prohibition and the temperance movement, industrial boom and economic crisis. The dissertation augments the burgeoning historical literature on the American carceral state, and demonstrates that in order to understand the vast scope of modern coercive state power, scholars must consider the dense legal terrain of American cities, and account for the considerable power wielded by local policing institutions to define the boundaries of legality. The dissertation weaves together analyses of these state institutions, as well as their critics and members of policed communities, drawing on municipal, state, and federal government records, legal treatises and legislative debates, commission investigations, news reports, and the records of social reform and racial improvement organizations. Policing thus serves as a lens through which to understand the production of racial knowledge, the relationship between citizens and the coercive state, and the negotiation of rights in the modern United States. 

Fellowship year: 2016

Mentor: Kelly Lytle Hernandez, University of California, Los Angeles

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