Freedom and terror: The emergence of the uniformed police as a phenomenology of the state

Date of Completion

January 2004


Anthropology, Cultural|History, United States




The dissertation is an historical exploration of the emergence of police power, among the Eastern Cherokee as well as in New Bern, North Carolina. The period investigated is during the reconstruction of state level powers following the Civil War, ranging roughly from 1865–1870. The focus is on the social and intellectual construction of “police power” and its uses during this period. Police power, in its situated legal and institutional senses, defines the interplay between governmental forms and social knowledge. Therefore, it is the scope of the dissertation to examine and interpret the manners in which the law and legal institutions, including the police, are used to extend these definitions over populations such as the Eastern Cherokee, as well as groups of African Americans, poor whites, and immigrants, all of whom are subject to the law, yet rarely define it. The interpretation uses a phenomenological frame to understand how these processes are incorporated into local communities, and the connections between structural power and individual agencies. In this sense, the dissertation is an attempt to comprehend the manner in which local people engage the law's meaning through bodies and within events. ^