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Special Collection

Societal Responses to Criminal Governance in Latin America

Collection launched: 12 Feb 2019

One of the most disturbing developments in the outbreak of criminal violence that Latin America has experienced in recent decades is the rise of subnational criminal governance regimes. From drug cartels to private militias to street gangs, a variety of criminal actors have gained increasing control over territories, populations, local governments, electoral politics, and economic activity. How have citizens and communities responded to these bold criminal attempts to exert local control and transform local social and political orders? How do citizen responses to criminal governance vary from marginalized urban neighborhoods to rural indigenous communities? In this collection, Enrique Desmond Arias analyzes civic organizations’ responses to police and gang violence in Brazil, Colombia, and Jamaica; Sandra Ley, Shannan Mattiace, and Guillermo Trejo examine communal resistance to narco rule in two Mexican indigenous regions; Abby Córdova surveys political participation in gang-controlled neighborhoods in El Salvador; and Katherine Sobering and Javier Auyero discuss how police collusion with drug traffickers impacts citizens’ understanding of the law in marginalized communities in Argentina. Using methodologies ranging from ethnographic fieldwork and survey analysis to textual analysis of judicial documents and wiretapping records, the essays provide in-depth analyses of histories of resistance, coexistence, despair, and conquest, and different trajectories of peace and violence. The narratives and the findings of the four articles provide us with powerful evidence that challenges preconceived notions about how states, communities, and organized crime interact with one another.

Guest editor: Guillermo Trejo