Police vigilantes and vigilant police. Community policing and division of police work in urban Malawi

Participations in law and order
By Paul Grassin

Based on a long-term ethnographic fieldwork at the frontier between state police and vigilante groups in a densely populated township in Blantyre, the economic capital of Malawi, this article brings a contribution to the study of the frontier between state police and vigilantism. Following previous works that have revealed the porosity of the police/vigilantes boundary, it shows that mechanisms of assimilation and distinction help each group to demarcate its position within the local police arena. The historical approach helps to identify the process through which vigilante groups have been included within the police institution, through the community policing reform, contributing to their bureaucratization. On the other hand, this intermingling has legitimized “off the books” practices from police officers that are directly inspired by the vigilantes’ policing techniques.

  • policing
  • vigilantism
  • community policing
  • distinction
  • police vigilantism
  • legal pluralism
  • ethnography
  • police arena
  • Malawi
Go to the article on Cairn-int.info