Enrique Desmond Arias
City University of New York, John Jay College
Throughout Latin America, private violent actors such as vigilante groups, drug gangs, and security firms have had a growing role in political life. In different countries they have engaged in social welfare efforts and have enforced order in places where state security forces are largely absent. This study aims to develop a deeper understanding of the role these groups play in politics. Using ethnographic methods, it studies the way that vigilante groups, drug gangs, and more formal private security firms in three Rio neighborhoods affect the activities of local social organizations, the interaction between community residents and politicians, and how people engage in politics and think about themselves as political subjects.