Title

The Politics of Crime in Latin America: New Insights, Future Challenges

Author Information

Eduardo Moncada

Date of Publication

2021 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Transnational Organized Crime

Keywords

implications of crime, homicide, violence, crime, criminology, relationship between crime and politics, governance, state response to crime

Description

Starting in the 1990s, Guillermo O’Donnell challenged scholars of Latin America to consider the implications of crime, violence, and the “(un)rule of law” for the consolidation and quality of democracy (O’Donnell 1999, 2004). Indicators of crime and violence were just starting to climb in the region. Today, one-third of the world’s annual homicides take place in Latin America. The four books reviewed in this essay take up O’Donnell’s challenge in contrasting ways. They differ methodologically and in their theoretical priors and empirical foci. But the books share an underlying concern with unpacking the relationship between crime, violence, and politics. In what follows I first provide brief summaries of each book. I then discuss their contributions to existing research in two areas: state responses to crime and criminal actors, and understudied forms of crime and violence. I conclude by reflecting on challenges for future research on the politics of crime.

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

The Politics of Crime in Latin America: New Insights, Future Challenges

Starting in the 1990s, Guillermo O’Donnell challenged scholars of Latin America to consider the implications of crime, violence, and the “(un)rule of law” for the consolidation and quality of democracy (O’Donnell 1999, 2004). Indicators of crime and violence were just starting to climb in the region. Today, one-third of the world’s annual homicides take place in Latin America. The four books reviewed in this essay take up O’Donnell’s challenge in contrasting ways. They differ methodologically and in their theoretical priors and empirical foci. But the books share an underlying concern with unpacking the relationship between crime, violence, and politics. In what follows I first provide brief summaries of each book. I then discuss their contributions to existing research in two areas: state responses to crime and criminal actors, and understudied forms of crime and violence. I conclude by reflecting on challenges for future research on the politics of crime.