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OGLM 3060 - The Dynamics of Criminal Governance

Type d'enseignement : Workshop

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 12

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

Crime and delinquency are frequently perceived and represented as either highly anarchic or inherently disorderly phenomena, but in actual fact, they more often than not have definite and consistent logics and can moreover actively contribute to the constitution of social order, particularly in cities. Drawing on both real-life case studies as well as fictional representations, this workshop explores the notion of criminal governance, its potential meanings, its underlying dynamics and consequences, as well as its uses and abuses, with a focus on urban contexts. More specifically, it will explore how governance operates from the point of view of illegal organisations such as mafias, gangs, and drug trafficking organisations, as well as their connections with formal politics and actors such as the state, including the way that the latter can often take on many of the characteristics of criminal governance.


RODGERS, Dennis (Professor of International Development Studies)

Course validation

The course will be assessed on the basis of a take-home paper (60%), a group role-playing exercise (30%), and participation in workshop discussions (10%).


Mainly theoretical with some practical components

Required reading

  • Arias, E. D., (2006), “The Dynamics of Criminal Governance: Networks and Social Order in Rio de Janeiro”, Journal of Latin American Studies, 38(2): 293-325.
  • Auyero, J., and K. Sobering, (2017), "Violence, the State, and the Poor: A View from the South", Sociological Forum, 32 (S1): 1018-1031.
  • Rodgers, D., (2006), “The state as a gang: Conceptualising the governmentality of violence in contemporary Nicaragua”, Critique of Anthropology, 26(3): 315-30.
  • Rodgers, D., (2016), “Critique of urban violence: Bismarckian transformations in contemporary Nicaragua”, Theory, Culture, and Society, 33(7-8): 85-109
  • Tilly, C., (1985), “War Making and State Making as Organized Crime”, in P. Evans, D. Rueschemeyer, and T. Skocpol (eds), Bringing the State Back in, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp 169-186 (available online at:

Additional required reading

  • Gambetta, D., (2009), Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate, Princeton: Princeton University Press
  • Pratten, D., & A. Sen, (2007), Global Vigilantes, London : Hurst
  • Skarbek, D., (2014), The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Stephenson, S., (2015), Gangs of Russia: From the Streets to the Corridors of Power, Ithaca: Cornell University Press
  • Varese, F., (2017), Mafia Life: Love, Death and Money at the Heart of Organised Crime, London: Profile Books