Center for German and European Studies

Politics of (Un-)Breathing: Policing Blackness in Europe

Monday, October 4, 2021
12-1:30pm Eastern Time (US) / 6-7:30pm German time
Zoom Webinar


You can watch a recording of the complete event by clicking the button above.

About the Event

German police and protestors during a Black Lives Matter protest on Berlin Alexanderplatz on June 6, 2020The global protests and mobilization for black lives crystallized around policing, although simultaneously pointing at the broader dimensions of criminalization and control of especially black and other racialized poor folks and communities. The protests unfolded globally very quickly, also in many parts of continental Europe such as Germany, France and Switzerland.

In this talk, we discuss the differential logics of policing in Europe, which are connected to the histories of empire, colonialism and the current conjunctures of racial gendered capitalism. Drawing on Frantz Fanon’s notion of “combat breathing”, black feminist methodologies and activist research with black urban and refugee movements in Europe, resistances and abolitionist horizons are engaged with, horizons that have their local and specific forms of abolitionist practice and can’t be subsumed under a US-centric lens, but are rather part of the transnational dimension of abolition. 

Photo: German police and protestors during a Black Lives Matter protest on Berlin Alexanderplatz on June 6, 2020. Credit: Shutterstock/Sybille Reuter

About the Speaker

Vanessa ThompsonVanessa E. Thompson is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Cultural Studies, European University Viadrina, Germany, and incoming assistant professor in Black Studies at Queen’s University, Canada. Her research and teaching are focused on critical racism and migration studies, black studies (especially black social and political movements and black feminisms), critiques of policing and abolition, and activist ethnographies. She has published on blackness and black movements in France and Europe more broadly, black abolitionist struggles and Fanonian thought. She has co-founded an intersectional cop-watch collective in Germany, is a member of the International Independent Commission on the Death of Oury Jalloh and organizes within international abolitionist collectives.