About this Project

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 is 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 bridges regions, methodologies, and disciplines. Ultimately, through a series of collaborative workshops and a culminating conference, the project aims 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.


Paul Staniland on Political Violence in Charlottesville

August 16, 2017

In a Q&A with Vox, Political Science Professor Paul Staniland (Faculty Fellow, The State, Violence, and Social Control in the Contemporary World) warns of dangerous escalations in response to President Trump's statements on recent events in Charlottesville.

Paul Staniland on Pakistan’s Democratic Crisis

July 28, 2017

Political Science Professor Paul Staniland, a Faculty Fellow on our State, Violence, and Social Control in the Contemporary World project, talks to the New York Times about the Pakistan Supreme Court's role in ousting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

UChicago Charts Future of Ethnographic Research

April 10, 2017

Faculty Fellows Forrest Stuart (The State, Violence, and Social Control in the Contemporary World), Kimberly Hoang (The Economy and its Boundaries), and Kristen Schilt (Gaming Orientation) represent a new generation of sociologists advancing the University’s multidisciplinary tradition. 


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