Transforming Justice: Tensions in Creative Practices for Documenting Policing

Authors: Kela Caldwell*, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Kallista Bley, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Urban Geography, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Policing, Participatory Methods, Ethics, Digital Geographies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8226, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


With participatory approaches, researchers have considered the politics of knowledge production through the use of creative media such as photography, video, and mapping (Wang 1999, Catalani 2012, Elwood 2006). Building on this politically engaged research, we consider the tensions that emerge with creative practices for documenting policing through the Transforming Justice Project. Transforming Justice is a multiyear, interdisciplinary project in Milwaukee, WI, that seeks to: 1) document experiences and current understandings of policing, and 2) create spaces for shifting conversations about reforms, ultimately developing alternatives to policing. The first phase of the project consisted of community workshops and documentary video production by a group of young people who were trained in videography, interview methods, and research ethics. We begin our involvement in the second phase as the group moves towards creating (or not) a public online archive and mapped visualizations of project materials. The shift from in-person conversations to the creation of online spaces for engagement raises many ethical considerations, as well as political potentials. With a polarized and overdetermined discursive terrain shaping audience reception, what are the possibilities for creating, hosting, and distributing via the web creative media that challenge racialized and geographic narratives of policing? This paper explores the political potentials and liabilities of moving Transformative Justice’s work into digital space, focusing on collaborative mapping activities, and how this move might continue to inform critical conversations on policing in Milwaukee and beyond.

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