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Graduate fellow: Anthony McLachlan

‘Hip-hop culture is subject to a wide plurality of policing methods’

Anthony McLachlan is an MSc student in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment. He is researching the way in which hip hop is policed in Quebec, both historically and today.

Could you speak about the perceived threat to social order that Blackness represents?

Blackness has historically served as an index of measurement that informs imaginaries of what is “out of place,” lawless and disruptive. Blackness, when understood as such, threatens to distort the place-making capacity of dominant social order. It contributes to and serves as a catalyst in the transformation of urban space into an unsafe, suspicious and pathologically transgressive one. The perpetuation and circulation of this understanding of Blackness informs policy, legislation, public sentiment and ultimately law enforcement, to name a few.

With regards to hip hop in Quebec, what tactics are used to condemn and contain its cultural expression?

As a linguistic minority, Quebec has maintained a complicated relationship with the experiences of ethnic minorities in the province. Blackness has historically served as an index of measurement for its own advancement into whiteness. As a Black expressive, hip-hop culture is subject to a wide plurality of policing methods. Example of tactics to police hip hop include changing the ethnicity of security guards at nightclubs; demanding prepayment for alcohol on nights where rap music is played; and threatening to revoke liquor licenses if rap music is played.

Responses to the threat of these tactics, meanwhile, include bribing law enforcement officials; security developing informal ties with law enforcement officials; and hip-hop fans policing themselves (through hairstyle and clothing choices, for example).

What does the BPO research fellowship mean for you and your work?

The BPO research fellowship enables my research to continue almost unfettered. There remains a discrepancy in the amount of funding available toward Black academics, and much of the research and work centred on generating correctives and discussions pertaining to the afterlives of racialized geographies goes untouched. The BPO research fellowship enables students like me to continue their work in a less precarious manner and contribute to the already-growing canon of Black research taking place at Concordia.


Department of Geography, Planning and Environment





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