Lecture by Markus-Michael Müller

Policing the Urban Margins in Latin America

This presentation analyses the complex and ambivalent relationship(s) between marginalized urban communities and police forces in Latin America cities. While forms of police-mediated state-society relations taking place at the urban margins in Latin American have often been analyzed through the lenses of authoritarian legacies, police abuse, institutional abandonment, or outright state repression, this presentation aims at complicating such one-sided narratives by highlighting the multiple, and frequently highly contradictory, ways in and through which “public” security providers and marginalized communities interact in the region’s “violently plural” city spaces. To this end the presentation aims at providing an overview of basic patterns that structure the interactions between urban police forces and marginalized communities throughout the region. These patterns will be identified by focusing on three topics that serve as analytical entry points for uncovering structural aspects that shape policing-mediated state-society relations in urban Latin America: 1) The “metropolization” of crime and the politicization of (in)security; 2) the urbanization of neoliberalism and the related informalization of Latin American cities, and 3) bottom-up responses to inefficient/absent public security provision.

Markus-Michael Müller is Assistant Professor in Political Science at ZI Lateinamerika-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin. His research focuses on policing, transnational security governance, urban politics and violence, with a regional focus on Latin America. He is Principal Investigator in the project “Police-Building and Transnational Security Fields in Latin America” at the Collaborative Research Centre “Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood”, Freie Universität Berlin. He is author of Public Security in the Negotiated Sate. Policing in Latin America and Beyond (Palgrave Macmillan 2012) and The Politics of (In)Security in Neoliberal Mexico City (Zed books; forthcoming). His work has appeared in journals including, amongst others, Security Dialogue, Third World Quarterly, Journal of Latin American Studies, Government & Opposition, Postcolonial Studies and Social & Legal Studies.