Bringing Empire Back in: Unaccountable Public Violence, Sovereignty and the Rule of Difference in Latin America

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This chapter argues that contemporary expressions of unaccountable police violence targeting those at society’s margins in Latin America reflect the imperial legacy of policing in the region. Specifically, the chapter traces how policing in Latin America evolved as a divisive practice of socio-political ordering through regularly unaccountable violent means that entangled local and extra-regional security concerns converging on the need to uphold the political status quo in deeply unequal and highly stratified societies, marked by a profound fragmentation of sovereignty. Particularly, by violently regulating the lives of those deemed to be “different” and whose “otherness” allegedly posed a threat to the order of things. Unpacking this legacy, from the colonial conquests of the Spanish and Portuguese empires to the United States’ imperial meddling in regional security affairs during the Cold War, the chapter uncovers the durability of the imperial imprint on Latin American police forces and its lasting legacy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolicing the Global South : Colonial Legacies, Pluralities, Partnerships, and Reform
EditorsDanielle Watson, Sara N. Amin, Wendell C. Wallace, Oluwagbenga Michael Akinlabi, Juan Carlos Ruiz-Vásquez
Number of pages16
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9780367648121 (hbk), 9780367648114 (pbk)
ISBN (Electronic)9781003126409
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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