About this Project

2014 – 2017

The relationship between governments and the citizens they seek to rule is central to understanding politics and society in the contemporary world.  This collaborative research project was a departure from macro-historical studies of state power, relying instead on ethnography, archival research, interviews, historical narratives, and textual analysis to develop a local understanding of “the state” that reveals how authorities (from prime ministers to police officers) evaluate political threats, create social structures, and construct categories of legality and criminality. By studying interactions between states and criminal organizations in Latin America, policing and social control in urban America, and violence and state building in post-colonial South Asia, the project bridged regions, methodologies, and disciplines. Ultimately, through a series of collaborative workshops and a culminating conference, the project aimed to create a new ‘Chicago School’ on the state, violence, and social control.

Photo Credit: Benjamin Lessing; About the Photo: Alemão was considered the most fortified redoubt of the Comando Vermelho, Rio's largest and oldest armed criminal syndicate (facção criminosa). A major state invasion of Alemão in 2007 led to a bloody siege but failed to expel the traffickers. In 2008 the government changed to a violence-reduction approach known as Pacification, and in November 2010 managed to 'pacify' Alemão with a minimum of violence. Usually pacified favelas receive community-policing units known as UPPs, but Alemão was too large and there weren't enough UPPs ready, so the army occupied it for over a year. In this photo, taken in December 2011, Favela residents enjoy a cultural event in army-occupied Complexo do Alemão, Rio de Janeiro after state troops captured the community from drug traffickers.


Kashmir and the Coronavirus

April 15, 2020

Paul Staniland, a Faculty Fellow on The State, Violence, and Social Control in the Contemporary World project, considers how COVID-19 will likely entrench the status quo in Kashmir, as state actors and mass publics focus on getting through the pandemic.

Pakistan Heads Into Its Most Controversial Election in Years

July 25, 2018

Paul Staniland, a Faculty Fellow on the State, Violence, and Social Control in the Contemporary World project, discusses the upcoming Pakistani elections with Bloomberg News.

Forrest Stuart Book Earns Top Honor from UChicago Press

April 27, 2018

The 2018 Laing Prize honors Neubauer Collegium Faculty Fellow Forrest Stuart for his book Down, Out & Under Arrest, which provides a close-up look at the relationship between police and the poor living in Los Angeles’ Skid Row.


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