“The Perpetrator is a Southerner”: “Südländer” as Racial Profiling in German Police Reports

Clara Ervedosa


This article represents the first study of the German category “Südländer,” or “Southerner.” It demonstrates that the police use this term as a form of racial profiling in police reports in order to characterize specific perpetrators’ phenotype. Typically, this implies ‘olive’ skin color, dark hair, and dark eyes. Ostensibly, the term is used to enable citizens to collaborate with the police in the process of identifying and apprehending a criminal. This inductive and digitally supported study offers an example of the persistence of racialized thought in German society after WWII. It reveals how the police, as one of the most significant state institutions in Germany, contribute to this process of racialization by frequently employing the term “Südländer.” At the same time, the article illustrates the degree to which older racializing systems of knowledge that used constructs such as the “Mediterranean Race” and social configurations such as the “white/brown” color-line still resonate in this ostensibly post-racial terminology. (CE)

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