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Niklas Creemers

Lupe [1]

Center for Metropolitan Studies
TU Berlin
Hardenbergstraße 16-18
10623 Berlin

  • Dissertation
  • CV


The Policing Assemblage. On the Co-Evolution of Technology, Knowledge, and Policing in New York City.

Police work is information work. Core activities of policing include collecting, storing, exchanging, and processing information about the population, its elements, and the relations that exist between them in order to manage contingencies and secure social order. The utilization of new information sources along with the use of databases, and growingly complex methods of data analysis have fostered new ways of generating knowledge and exercising social control.

These observations are the point of departure for my doctoral project on the co-evolution of technology, knowledge, and social control as it is exerted by police. I investigate the implementation of information technologies by the NYPD, starting with the New York police reform in 1994. This reform was based on the integration of state-of-the-art computer technology to gather and analyze information about crime and its distribution in time and space. Beyond that, the reform introduced new concepts of understanding crime and new management methods. Since then the NYPD has constantly adapted technological innovations and refined its strategies and practices along with them.

Following basic assumptions of the Science and Technology Studies (STS) and the Sociology of Technology, I consider technologies not just as a tool for social activities. Rather I understand them as active agents within sociotechnical constellations.

Against this backdrop, I conceptualize policing as a field of practices in which activities are conducted in networks of distributed agency which comprise human and non-human actors. With the latter can include discourses and narratives, strategies and tactics, organizational structures and traditions, technologies and artefacts.

My dissertation project places special emphasis on digital technologies as key elements of urban policing. I will examine how the use of databases, data analysis tools and crime maps constitutes policing as a growing data assemblage, which integrates increasing numbers of sources and types of information about the city and its population to foster knowledge about the emergence of crime and its spatio-temporal distribution. I will analyze in which ways the distribution of activities between human actors and digital technologies has changed, consequently transforming the production of knowledge. Furthermore, I explored how these sociotechnical practices of knowledge production shape the ways police act within the city as they govern, arrange and assemble elements within urban space and time in order to fight and prevent crime. By that, I aim at examining how policing partakes in the constitution of urban spatio-temporal regimes as they foster or impede particular activities by certain groups within urban space and time.

Perspectives from Actor-Network-Theory (ANT), assemblage thinking, governmentality studies and apparatus analysis form the theoretical foundation of my doctoral project. Methodologically my research includes discourse analytical approaches as well as qualitative expert interviews and participatory observations.



Urban Studies, Surveillance Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Gouvernementality Studies, Big Data


since 05/2015
PhD candidate at the DFG-funded International Graduate Program Berlin - New York – Toronto: “The World in the City Metropolitanism and Globalization from the 19th Century to the Present” at Technical University Berlin, Center for Metropolitan Studies (CMS)

2002 – 2009
Dipl. Soz.-Wiss., University Duisburg-Essen


2010 – 2014
Researcher at Technical University Berlin, Center for Technology and Society (CTS)


“Datenbanken in der Polizeipraxis: zur computergestützten Konstruktion von Verdacht” (with Daniel Guagnin), in: Kriminologisches Journal, 46 Jg. 2014, H.3, 134-148.

“Profiling technologies and fundamental rights and values: regulatory challenges and perspectives from European Data Protection Authorities” (with Francesca Bosco, Valeria Ferraris, Daniel Guagnin and Bert-Jaap Koops), in: Gutwirth et al. (eds.): Reforming Data Protection: The Global Perspective, Springer, Dordrecht, 2014.

“Police work and databases: profiling political activism” (with Daniel Guagnin), in: Creemers, Niklas; Guagnin, Daniel; Koops, Bert-Jaap (eds.): Profiling Technologies in Practice - Applications and Impact on Fundamental Rights and Values, forthcoming.

“Profiling Technologies and Fundamental Rights. An Introduction” (with Francesca Bosco, Valeria Ferraris, Daniel Guagnin, Bert-Jaap Koops, and Elise Vermeersch), in: Creemers, Niklas; Guagnin, Daniel; Koops, Bert-Jaap (eds.): Profiling Technologies in Practice - Applications and Impact on Fundamental Rights and Values, forthcoming.

“Die Konstruktion von Wissen und Verdacht in soziotechnischen Netzwerken. Zur polizeilichen Praxis der Nutzung von Datenbanken und Datenanalysetools“, in: Grutzpalk, Jonas (ed.): Polizeiliches Wissen, forthcoming.


Die Versprechungen des Rechts. Dritter Kongress der deutschsprachigen Rechtssoziologie-Vereinigungen, “Datenbanken in der Polizeipraxis: Zur computergestützten Konstruktion von Verdacht“, Berlin, September 2015.

Vorsicht Sicherheit! Legitimationsprobleme der Ordnung von Freiheit. 26. Wissenschaftlicher Kongress der deutschen Vereinigung für Politische Wissenschaft, “Sammeln, Speichern, Analysieren in Polizeidatenbanken: Protest zwischen Aktivismus und  ‘politisch motivierter Kriminalität‘“, Duisburg, September 2015.

The 6th Biannual Surveillance and Society Conference (SSN), “Profiling: risks, potentials and room for action”, Barcelona, April 2014. Technik und Protest, “Sammeln, Speichern, Analysieren: polizeiliches Wissen und politischer Aktivismus”, Berlin, September 2014.

PROFILING: Final Conference, “Gathering, Storage, Analysis: Profiling Political Activism”, Rome, September 2014.

Computer, Privacy and Data Protection 2015 (CPDP), “Police Databases and the Fight against 'Politically Motivated Crime' in Germany”, Brussels, January 2015.

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