Political Aesthetics of Police Kettling

Political Aesthetics of Police Kettling

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Workshop Description: 

A police kettle can be described as the activation of a police cordon into an encirclement. A wall (composed of: the bodies and minds of police; mobile inorganic material such as shields, truncheons, and Kevlar; and adjacent fixed urban infrastructures) constitutes the architectural enclosure of a police kettle. In contrast to a police cordon, which is designed to keep people out, a police kettle is designed to keep people in. Three formal characteristics of a police kettle are its relatively small size (up to a maximum of a thousand people contained, usually less than half that); its relatively long duration (a minimum of three hours, and up to thirteen and possibly even more); and its constant impermeability.

The phrase 'police kettle' comes from the German polizeikessel, which translates literally as 'police cauldron' (polizeikette, a closer homonym, translates as 'police cordon'). The spatial and linguistic source descends from the specific military use of the term 'encirclement', which comes from kesselschlacht (literally, 'cauldron battle'). The metaphor of an impermeable container whose contents are heated up over time by an external source is the precise analogy of a police kettle.

The presentation will examine the phenomena of kettling through a spatial and architectural analysis using methods of design research.