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Grant number: FT-254773-17

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Simon Balto
Ball State University (Muncie, IN 47306-1022)

A History of Race, Policing, and the Urban Experience in 20th-century Chicago

A book-length history of police administration, crime, and citizen activism in Chicago from 1919 through the 1970s.

This book manuscript explores how policing systems shaped black experiences, black politics, and the urban fabric in Chicago and cities like it during the twentieth century. It documents how, between the late 1910s and the early 1970s, Chicago built an intricate, powerful carceral machinery whose most noticeable feature was an extreme racial selectivity. Within that machinery’s cogs, black communities increasingly articulated themselves as being both “overpatrolled” and “underprotected.” They highlighted escalating harassment and violence and worsening neglect from the police department, and the intransigence of the city’s power structure to address the problem. Deeply aligned with the NEH mission of using the humanities to understand the conditions of American life, this book speaks directly to modern crises in policing and conflicts in police-community relations, as well as to the steep racialization of what is popularly known as “mass incarceration.”

Project fields:
African American History; African American Studies; U.S. History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2017 – 6/30/2017