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Crime is one of the most popular topics in the media, pop culture, and everyday conversations. Recently, the police have come under greater scrutiny in political and social debates that question its practices and demand either reform, or an overall rethinking of crime control. But anthropologists have long argued that neither crime nor ‘the police’ are stable categories. What constitutes a crime is time and context-dependent, and crime control relies on many different and evolving social mechanisms. Ethnographies of crime and policing show the variability and contingent qualities of these social forms and interrogate their ‘taken-for-grantedness’. In this course, we look at some of the most interesting insights available in ethnographies of crime and policing, from early writing about crime control in stateless societies to contemporary studies of transnational gangs, and from violent customary justice to the role of elite special forces and secretive intelligence units. Ethnography will illuminate the institutional ‘backstage’ of policing and highlight some radical, alternative possibilities. Along the way, students will learn about ethnographic research and writing on crime and policing, its limitations, and the rich insights that it may provide.