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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%). The take home paper will involve students choosing one form of urban criminal violence (e.g. mafia, gangs) and writing a case study of the way that it impacts on governance in the city of their choice from the perspective of both the criminal organisation and the formal authorities. Papers should be no more than 4,000 words (+/- 10%, excluding references). More information will be provided during the first session of the course. The take-home paper is to be handed in by 6 January 2019.


Mainly theoretical with some practical components

Required reading

  • Kruijt, D., and K. Koonings (1999). “Introduction: violence and fear in Latin America”, in K. Koonings and D. Kruijt (eds), Societies of Fear: The Legacy of Civil War, Violence and Terror in Latin America, London: Zed, pp 1-30.
  • 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.
  • 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., (2010), “Urban violence is not (necessarily) a way of life: Towards a political economy of conflict in cities”, in J. Beall, B. Guha-Khasnobis, and R. Kanbur (eds.), Urbanization and Development: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp 235-248
  • 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

  • Arias, E. D., (2017), Criminal Enterprises and Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Denyer Willis, G., (2015), The Killing Consensus: Police, Organized Crime, and the Regulation of Life and Death in Urban Brazil, Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Gambetta, D., (2009), Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Hazen, J. M., and D. Rodgers, (2014), Global Gangs: Street Violence across the World, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Pratten, D., and A. Sen, (2007), Global Vigilantes: Anthropological Perspectives, 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.