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Research Project

The State, Violence, and Social Control in the Contemporary World

2014 – 2017

Project Summary

Ethnographic, historical and textual analysis of interactions between governments and citizens in three contexts—Brazil, urban America, and post-colonial South Asia—yielded new insights on the use of state power to maintain social control.

Research Team

Benjamin Lessing

Benjamin Lessing

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and the College

University of Chicago

Benjamin Lessing, associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, studies "criminal conflict"—organized violence involving armed groups that do not seek formal state power, such as drug cartels, prison gangs, and paramilitaries. His first book, Making Peace In Drug...

Forrest Stuart

Forrest Stuart

Associate Professor of Sociology

Stanford University

As an urban ethnographer, he uses fieldwork, historical, and other qualitative methods to investigate the causes, contours, and consequence of contemporary urban poverty. He is particularly interested in how recent large-scale forces—most notably, the massive expansion of the criminal justice...

Project Narrative


In an editorial cartoon published circa 1900, Uncle Sam steps over the Philippines to carry goods to China.

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