The collections displayed at the Buenos Aires Police Museum convey various narratives about police identity. They are organized along two overarching lines. The first, somewhat predictable, may be referred to as “police as corporate identity and symbolic tradition.” It stems from the display of a rather formalized pantheon of heroes, uniformed mannequins, guns, and pieces of old technology. A second, more elusive (though essential) brand of corporate identity points to the police as archaeologists of a hidden life. It blends symbols and professional artifacts with a display of an intimate knowledge of petty crime, criminal episodes embedded in folk memory, and gruesome sensationalism. This essay argues that in this mix of objects evoking technological modernity and empirical knowledge of the “other side” of social reality lies a critical claim to intellectual superiority and professional legitimacy.

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