Christensen, M. and P. Albrecht. 2020. Urban border work: Ethnographies of policing.

The article’s main point is the argument that urban policing should be regarded as a bordering practice. The authors, therefore,


            The article’s main point is the argument that urban policing should be regarded as a bordering practice. The authors, therefore, introduce this main point by giving background information on the need of police work in cities due to their potential as breeding grounds for anxiety and fear resulting in high incidents of crime rates. The fight against crime in turn cultivates the necessity for the erection and enforcement of borders. The city is primarily introduced as a background on which police work takes place. This introduction frames the rest of the argument by giving the authors a basis for exploring the connection between urban securities, police work and bordering practices.


            The authors argue that by viewing urban policing as a bordering practice, it becomes easier to understand and address the relationship between the city and policing practices as catalysts of major current transformations. According to the article, despite cities being spaces of hope and desire, they are also hubs of fear and anxiety. Historically, erection of borders around cities are not mere markers of territorial control but rather manifestation of urban ordering. This has resulted in urban security becoming vital with the role of police in ordering in cities becoming more significant. “We foreground the linkages between policing and urban ordering to argue that urban policing principally is a practice of bordering, understood as spatial and relational practices that occur through processes of translation and negotiation” (Christensen, & Albrecht, 2020 p.386). Therefore, the authors are attempting to convince readers that by applying a different conception of urban policing as a bordering practice, it will change how people understand the mutual relationship between the city and policing.

            Each point in the article contributes to the argument of urban policing by exploring, from an ethnographic perspective, the role of police work in borders and bordering practices in numerous contemporary cities around the globe. How? There have been numerous unpredictable and illegal perceptions regarding security among the police and the policed have resulted in proliferation of new borders within city neighborhoods. For instance, under the pretext of the fight against crime, policing as a practice of urban bordering can be seen in the form of police killings in Mathare, Nairobi. These police killings have engendered social spatial divisions thus illuminating the relationship between policing and the city. In delivering the main points supporting the argument, the authors have made use of several examples of cities including Nairobi, Manila and Bogota. For instance, in Bogota, police work is mainly characterized by patterns of segregation and spatial divisions among social classes. Such examples make the argument clearer by applying the idea to real-life situations.

Structure of the Paper

            In order to present a reasoned and logical argument in response to the main topic, the article has been structured to provide information via a written narrative. The authors have presented the information in sequential sections that enable the reader to grasp the information and become convinced by the argument as it continues to unfold in each section. The sections in the article include the following:


The abstract provides a concise summary of the article. It provides the context for the paper by stating the specific topic of research which is urban policing as a bordering practice. This section also provides readers with information on what is already known in relation to the main topic. For instance, it is indicated that bordering practices and borders have long been applied in most contemporary cities as a means of addressing certain issues that threaten social order. Finally, this section also points out the significance of the implication of the main argument thereby answering an important question, why should this topic be studied? (For more info, follow this link How to Write an Abstract)


This section contains terms that are specifically related to the main topic. These include urban policing, trembling, and bordering practices and ethnography. The keywords play a vital role in describing the article’s main ideas.


This section is the most important part of the article as it lets readers know what the central issue is and what to expect from the rest of the paper. The information contained in this section includes background information on crime in cities and the need for border enforcement as well as the role of police and the policed. It also provides information on the role of borders around cities, which is essential to the main topic. Finally, the introduction unfolds an ethnographic urban policing framework that is based on three literatures that are related thus conveying basic information while providing clues to the main conclusions of the research. Therefore, upon reading the introduction, a reader can anticipate more information relating to bordering practices in cities, role of police work in bordering practices and the link between policing and the city.

Body of Literature

This section contains previous scholarly research on the main ideas relating to the authors’ main topic. The authors survey various sources relating to ethnographic approaches as well as police and policing practices. This section builds up to the overall argument in several ways. First, the information provided in this section helps the authors to establish consistency by connecting new ideas to older materials that have been scholarly reviewed. According to the article, there has been a tremendous growth in the body of literature concerned with police and policing from an ethnographic point of view. For instance, Policing and Contemporary Governance: The Anthropology of Police in Practice by Comaroff provides useful literature on researched and documented information on the role played by police in institutional orders. This outside information is used by the authors to connect new ideas with peer reviewed articles thus, giving the article credibility. Second, the previous material is scrutinized to identify any gaps in information thus facilitating the need for further studies. For instance, the authors propose further study on state police alongside other crucial factors including other policing actors as well as the policed.

Main Body

This section contains information that presents the main idea of the topic in much greater detail. The information provided focuses on the central topic including the modern ideas of borders, policing and control of borders. The ideas presented in the main body aims to convince readers that urban policing is a practice of bordering by looking at these practices from the perspective of the police. According to the information presented in this section, urban policing as  practice for city bordering and ordering, mainly reflects the desire of the government to safeguard territorial control by using certain means such as regulating the circulation of people as well as resources. The police, who act as the bureaucrats of state, are often implicated in activities that aim to produce as well as maintain city borders by enforcing specific laws. This information plays a vital role in attempting to paint a clear picture of the role of policing in bordering practices so as to convince readers of the significant role policing plays in shaping city dynamics such as bordering.

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