Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Anna Secor


Despite decades of reforms and technological innovations, increasing evidence shows that state securitization disproportionately harms already racially, spatially, and socio-economically marginalized communities. My research investigates uneven impacts of state securitization, from punitive welfare programs to school surveillance to policing. Across sites, I focus on scales, voices and the everyday lived experiences often left out of scholarly discourse and sensational media. In the current climate of growing awareness and scholarship on police violence, my dissertation addresses three less-studied areas: 1) the interplay between racial, gendered, spatial, and technified police practices; 2) how these practices impact the everyday lives of those racially and socioeconomically marginalized; and 3) how children adapt practically and imaginatively to such impacts. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in New York City and Cincinnati (with police and children), policy analysis, and textual analysis of media articles, I explore the practices, experiences and perceptions of what I call bio-spatial policing, as well as reworkings and refusals of securitizing regimes. This dissertation makes four main contributions.

Chapter two introduces the analytic framework of bio-spatial policing through an examination of the policing of everyday mobilities in targeted New York City zones. These police hot-spots are sites of mobility constrained by racial, social, biometric, bio-political, and spatial police tactics. Because this technified policing is enacted spatially and governs residents' mobility, I use the conceptual apparatus of bio-spatial profiling. I argue that its lived experience is one of pervasive fear governing mobilities.

Based in the more generalizable mid-sized, Mid-West city, Cincinnati provides a counterpoint to New York’s exceptionalism for chapter three, which makes the second contribution. Building on chapter two, it examines the everyday life of bio-spatial policing, simultaneously researching police and children’s lived experiences. Its first contribution is in conceptualizing constellations of surveillance and policing following children through their daily lives, spaces, and imaginations. I argue that where policing and surveillance converge, specific fears arise. Constellations map out the ways these technologies and practices connect across space, time, and lived experience. Yet the chapter moves beyond this fear-based narrative, using constellations to map children’s networks of care as well. It examines their practiced and imagined reworkings and refusals to what I call regimes of securitization—both the constellations of policing and surveillance and the victim/criminal narratives attempting to define children.

Chapter four surveys the subfield of police geographies which my work draws from and contributes to. I analyze the claim of the subfield’s marginality, arguing that there is a wealth of minor (not marginal) feminist, queer, and BIPOC police geographies. I highlight the ways scholars conceptualize policing’s spatiality, from spatial tactics, effects and impacts to spatialized resistance, noting the trend in recent works that envisions a world without police.

Across the dissertation, I highlight ways technology and police converge in a practice of bio-spatial policing that is greater than the sum of its parts, Throughout, I examine bio-spatial policing’s impacts on everyday lives, in two very different U.S. cities and in police geographies literature. Yet in each chapter I also move beyond this important focus on fear and harm to explore reworkings, resistance, and refusal in literature and on the ground. I argue that both narratives are necessary, and the concept of constellations provides both a map of bio-spatial profiling’s harms, weaknesses, and the potential for another world resting in the space between its stars.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by the National Science Foundation's Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (no.: 1848702) from 2019-2020. From the American Association of Geographers in the same years it was supported by both the Political Geography Specialty Group's Alexander B. Murphy Dissertation Enhancement Award and the Urban Geography Specialty Group's Graduate Student Fellowship, It was also supported by the University of Kentucky Graduate Student Incentive Award in 2019 and Barnhardt-Withington-Block Summer Fellowships in 2018, 2019, and 2021.