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  • About Laura Keesman

    My name is Laura D. Keesman and I am a PhD candidate in cultural sociology and part of the Group Violence Research project at the University of Amsterdam and Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR). I am affiliated with The Amsterdam Center for Conflict Studies (ACCS) and a Visiting Research Fellow at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. I hold a Bachelor’s of Applied Sciences in Social Work (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) and Master of Science in Cultural Sociology (University of Amsterdam).

    My main research interests are: (the micro-sociology of) violence – policing – the sociology of emotions – embodiment studies – ethnomethodology – symbolic interactionism – phenomenology – performativity – and visual methods. I am also interested in classical and cultural sociology in general.

    Previously I worked as a social worker in a domestic violence shelter in Sioux Falls, South-Dakota, U.S.A and a homeless shelter of the Salvation Army in the Red Light District in Amsterdam. I continued this job during my sociological studies, which has culminated into over seven years of experience in the homeless community and care giving facilities. This is where I became intrigued by violence and group dynamics during tense interactions. I conducted research on the situational and emotional dynamics of violent situations and the lived experiences of tension and fear among social workers in homeless shelters for my master thesis. This has led to a publication on the emotional and bodily processes of social workers and how they manage these in Journal of Social Work: ‘Bodies and emotions in tense and threatening situations’. In 2016-2017 I worked as a junior lecturer at the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam and as a researcher at RIGO Research en Advies, a commercial research agency.

    Currently, as a PhD, I study violent incidents in policing. I specifically focus on how police officers deal with tense and threatening situations (see more at The Group Violence Research Program). See for my recent publication on analyzing videos of violent situations together with police officers who experienced them: 'Action accounts of police-civilian interactions: Using video elicitation to explore police officers’ how-to knowledge' and how officers sometimes 'freeze' in the face of violence: ‘FREEZE?’ An analysis of police officers accounts of self-enclosing experiences'.

    Finally, and in addition to my research, I am a tutorial teacher in theoretical courses for the BA Sociology, supervise BA thesis on violence, sexual harassment, and police related topics, provide guest lectures in various MA classes such as the 'Minor Violence' and 'Body, Emotions and Culture', as well as an individual reading course in the Research Master Social Sciences, and am a departmental internship supervisor.

  • The Group Violence Research Program

    My project in the Group Violence Research Program focuses on violent incidents in policing. Police officers are sometimes confronted with tense, threatening and violent situations in the course of their daily work. They have a heightened risk of exposure to aggressive and violent behaviour of individuals. In order to deal with such behaviours and situations officers need to gain control. At the same time, they should be accountable for their actions. The aim of this research is twofold. First, I aim to understand how police officers manage to collectively gain control in antagonistic situations and how they work together in tense and threatening interactions. Second, I seek to understand how police officers experience violence, mentally, physically and emotionally.

    I am specifically interested in how officers cope with antagonistic situations. For instance, how do they ensure ‘control’ in a situation, what happens when they fail to do so or when violence escalates. How do police officers work together as a team, and more specifically: how do they use their body when doing so. What types of (non) verbal communication do they employ and how do police officers intervene in early stages of tense interactions? How do they successfully de-escalate and when does it fail? In addition, I pay specific attention to how police officers cope with anxiety, tension or other negative emotions. This research is about police officers' experiences, explicitly from their point of view.

    In order to understand the intricate dynamics of tense situations police officers deal with I conducted ethnographic fieldwork, that is, (participant) observations within different police teams in The Netherlands. I went along during their daily shifts, accompanied officers during surveillance, witnessed training sessions, riot police conduct, and special arresting teams. In addition, I interviewed the members of the observed teams about specific violent events. In this way I try to come to a thorough understanding of their experiences. In practice, I reconstruct their experienced antagonistic situations. Finally, I watched videos together with police officers who experienced violent incidents to discuss the details of their actions, communication, cooperation, and to understand how they manage tense situations. This had led to a publication in Poetics (see publications). By combining an ethnographic method with interviews I seek to comprehend the emotional processes and situational group dynamics of violent situations, and specifically how police officers deal with these in violent interactions.

    In short my research profile looks like this:

    - qualitative research; ethnographic fieldwork/participant observation during policing in multiple police forces in the Netherlands and in depth/reconstructive interviewing
    - visual methodology; videos, drawings of antagonistic situations, and body maps
    - qualitative data analysis in Atlas.ti
    - publishing (peer reviewed) articles
    - presentations at international conferences and seminars
     

  • Teaching activities

    From 2017 to present as PhD candidate:

    • Supervision of Bachelor Theses, Thesis Group: Micro-Sociology of Violence. Topics on violence, riots, catcalling, and police issues, e.g. police brutality
    • Tutor Individual Reading Course Research Master Social Sciences (RMSS)
    • Departmental Internship Supervisor
    • Tutorial teaching Classical Sociological Theory: Social Interactions and Interdependencies. With philosophers and sociologists; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Herbert Spencer, Alexis de Toqcueville, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Norbert Elias, and Émile Durkheim, both bachelor and pre-master students
    • Tutorial teaching Matching Sociology; introductory seminar for sociology bachelor students
    • Various guest lectures in Minor Violence, M.A. and B.A. Sociology, Research Master Social Sciences (RMSS) Qualitative Design and RMSS Reading Club

    In 2016 - 2017 as junior lecturer:

    • Tutorial teaching Classical Sociological Theory: Social Interactions and Interdependencies on the origins of Sociology. With philosophers and sociologists; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Herbert Spencer, Alexis de Toqcueville, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Norbert Elias, and Émile Durkheim both bachelor and pre-master students
    • Tutorial teaching Classical Sociological Theory: Power, Culture, Identity, on further theorizing and the Frankfurter Schule. With philosophers and sociologists; Max Weber, Georg Simmel, Sigmund Freud, George Herbert Mead and Max Horkheimer & Theodor Adorno both bachelor and pre-master students
    • Tutorial teaching Cultural Sociology on subcultures, Art and Markets 

     

     

  • Publications

    2021

    2020

    2021

    2019

    2021

    2020

    2018

    2016

    Media appearance

    Talk / presentation

    • Keesman, L. (invited speaker) (17-12-2021). Kerstdebat Movisie 2021: Marc Chavannes, Nazmiye Oral en Laura Keesman over vertrouwen, Kerstdebat Movisie 2021: Vertrouwen, Utrecht.
    • Keesman, L. (invited speaker) (11-11-2021). Organiseren van collectieve actie: hoe video elicitatie helpt om belichaamde kennis van politieagenten te onderzoeken., Conferentie 'Onderzoek bij, voor en door de politie' onder leiding van Directoraat generaal Politie en Veiligheidsregio’s, Politie, Politieacademie en Ministerie van Justitie en Veiligheid. .
    • Keesman, L. (speaker) (2-9-2021). Research Network11 Session "Sociology of Emotions", panel "Emotions in Public Institutions. Presentation: “FREEZE! A Phenomenological Account of Action Paralysis”, European Sociological Association 2021, Barcelona.
    • Keesman, L. (speaker) (9-8-2021). Regular Session Qualitative Methodology. Presentation: “Action accounts of police-civilian interactions: Using video elicitation to explore police officers’ how-to knowledge”, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting.
    • Keesman, L. (speaker) (8-8-2021). Regular Session Sociology of the Body and Embodiment: Boundaries, Body Work, and Everyday Embodied Practices. Presentation: “FREEZE! A Phenomenological Account of Action Paralysis”, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting.
    • Keesman, L. (speaker) (15-7-2021). Panel: Reflections on Intersectional Power dynamics in Urban Methodologies. Presentation: “’It’s almost the 14th of February [Valentine’s day] so I thought of you’: finding balance between acceptance and professionalism in police research”, International Sociological Association RC21 Antwerp, Antwerp.
    • Keesman, L. (invited speaker) (7-6-2021). Invited speaker on audio visual methods in ethnographic policing research at ‘Workshop sensory ethnography for early career researchers working on the intersection of security, religion and urban space’ SACRASEC research project led by Dr. Tessa Diphoorn Universiteit Utrecht, Workshop sensory ethnography for early career researchers working on the intersection of security, religion and urban space, Utrecht.
    • Keesman, L. (invited speaker) (27-4-2021). Presentation for the police partnership and intelligence group The Applied Security Science Partnership (ASSP): “Police experiences with violence: reading bodies, collective action, and the risk of freezing. How do police officers deal with antagonism?”, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia, Victoria University, Melbourne.
    • Keesman, L. (invited speaker) (10-4-2021). Invited Lecture at Open Huis on my PhD research and ‘violence against police officers’, organized by Open University faculty of Psychology with TNO Human Behavior & Training, Open Huis by Open University faculty of Psychology together with TNO Human Behavior & Training, Amsterdam.
    • Keesman, L. (invited speaker) (5-3-2021). Invited presentation on my PhD research into violent interactions in Dutch policing at Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR) for the Evidence-based policing project, invited by Dr. Stijn Ruiter Utrecht University for, Evidence-based policing project Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR), Amsterdam.
    • Keesman, L. (invited speaker) (30-1-2021). Hoe ontsporen rellen?, YouTube Platform De Nieuwe Wereld .
    • Keesman, L. (speaker) (6-11-2020). Presentation: “Action accounts of police-civilian interactions: Using video elicitation to explore police officers’ how-to knowledge”, Cultural Sociology Lowlands 2021.
    • Keesman, L. (speaker) (14-6-2018). Presentation: “Mutual alignment and appropriate lines of action during violent situations”, Dag van de Sociologie, Rotterdam.
    • Keesman, L. (speaker) (8-6-2018). Presentation: “Mutual alignment and a sense of moral community: how group behavior affects escalation and de-escalation in street-level policing in The Netherlands.”, 7th Ethnography and Qualitative Research Conference, Bergamo, Italy, Bergamo.

    Others

    • Keesman, L. (other) (22-10-2021 - 1-4-2022). Panellist on the "Hoe?Zo! Show" funded by NWO (other).
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  • Ancillary activities
    No known ancillary activities