Policing and Human Rights: The Meaning of Violence and Justice in the Everyday Policing of Johannesburg, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Policing and Human Rights

The Meaning of Violence and Justice in the Everyday Policing of Johannesburg, 1st Edition

By Julia Hornberger


216 pages

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Policing and Human Rights analyses the implementation of human rights standards, tracing them from the nodal points of their production in Geneva, through the board rooms of national police management and training facilities, to the streets of downtown Johannesburg. This book deals with how the unprecedented influence of human rights, combined with the inability by police officers to ‘live up’ to international standards, has created a range of policing and human rights vernaculars – hybrid discourses that have appropriated, transmogrified and undercut human rights. Understood as an attempt by police officers, as much as by the police as a whole, to recover a position from which to act and to judge, these vernaculars reveal the compromised ways in which human rights are – and are not – implemented. Tracing how, in South Africa, human rights have given rise to new forms of popular justice, informal ‘private’ policing and provisional security arrangements, Policing and Human Rights delivers an important analysis of how the dissemination and implementation of human rights intersects with the post-colonial and post-transformation circumstances that characterise many countries in the South.

Table of Contents


2. Remembering the Police

3. From Geneva to Johannesburg: Human rights Training

4. ‘Don’t Push this Constitution down my throat…’; the use of violence in everyday policing

5. ‘Your Police – my police’: the informal privatisation of policing

6. ‘Omms gaan ry!’: on entanglement and human rights as violence

7. Conclusion: human rights in their ordinary state

About the Author

Julia Hornberger is senior researcher in Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Zurich and a research fellow at the African Centre for Migration and Society, University of the Witwatersrand. She is also a cofounder of the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism. Her research interests are justice, policing, the social life of law, violence and the international policing of counterfeit goods and health.

About the Series

Law, Development and Globalization

During the past two decades, a substantial transformation of law and legal institutions in developing and transition countries has taken place. Whether prompted by the policy prescriptions of the so-called Washington consensus, the wave of  democratization, the international human rights movement or the emergence of new social movements, no area of law has been left untouched. This massive transformation is attracting the attention of legal scholars, as well as scholars from other disciplines, such as politics, economics, sociology, anthropology and history. This diversity is valuable because it promotes cross-disciplinary dialogue and cooperation. It is also important because today the study of law cannot ignore the process of globalization, which is multifaceted and thus calls for inter-disciplinary skills and perspectives. Indeed, as globalization deepens, legal institutions at the national level are influenced and shaped by rules, practices and ideas drawn, imposed or borrowed from abroad.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Criminal Law / General
LAW / International
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Violence in Society