Provisional Authority. Police, Order, and Security in India. By Beatrice Jauregui. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2016.

Date01 September 2017
Published date01 September 2017
Book Reviews
Jennifer Balint, Editor
Provisional Authority. Police, Order, and Security in India. By Beatrice
Jauregui. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2016.
Reviewed by Mark Brown, School of Law, The University of Sheffield
For many among us the idea of police authority being anything but
secure would be novel. Shored up on the one hand by the state’s
monopoly of force and on the other by unwavering commitment
from democratically elected governments, the notion that police
authority may be in some way provisional barely merits thought.
Indeed, the very firmness of this presumption is reinforced and
made manifest by its occasional disruption, such as in the case of the
violent protests against police brutality in the United States in
recent years and the concomitant rise of the #BlackLivesMatter
movement. The exception confirms the rule.
My first experience of the provisionality of police authority —
its contingency and conditionality — took place on a very cold and
bleak afternoon in January 2005 in the city of Srinagar, Kashmir, a
disputed region of Northern India. As I stood in a city street an
armored police vehicle rounded the corner and came upon a car
double-parked, the driver at the wheel but the car blocking the way.
The scene that followed undid my understanding and presump-
tions about policing. First, the driver of the police vehicle honked
and honked, while the car driver studiously ignored the implicit
demand to move on. Second, the policeman at the wheel exited the
vehicle, lathi (long baton) in hand, smashed the offending driver’s
window, dragged him from the car and began to beat him on the
ground. Third, thinking that my presence as a westerner might in
some way temper the exercise of police violence I stepped forward,
making myself clearly visible on the pavement. The police officer
looked up at me, then got back down to the job of beating the
errant driver. As the bloodied driver was shoved back behind the
wheel to clear his obstruction I walked away, chastened yet
Beatrice Jauregui’s Provisional Authority: Police,Order,and Security
in India considers each of these phenomena as well as a host of
Law & Society Review, Volume 51, Number 3 (2017)
C2017 Law and Society Association. All rights reserved.

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