The blurred (in)security of community policing in Bolivia

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This chapter looks at what happens when official blueprints such as community policing based on the principle of non-violence, become entangled with ‘informal’ order-making in Bolivia in places where the state’s presence is precarious. When well-meaning and normally law-abiding barrio residents organized in neighborhood councils try to work within a formal scheme of community policing, they also slowly occupy a space for action left open by the state to exercise vigilante-like justice. Based on fieldwork in a suburban area of La Paz, Bolivia, we demonstrate not only that security is blurred in this process, but also that this blurring creates insecurity. We call this phenomenon ‘blurred (in)security’, using the term (in)security here to underline the subjective and self-identified character of ‘security’. The chapter focuses on the productivity of acts to ‘make security’ in the interface between official and unofficial ideas and practices. In this respect, the chapter concludes that global community-policing ‘blueprints’ have become something else in practice among local communities and that ultimately, the practice of community policing produces blurred (in)security.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSecurity Blurs : The Politics of Plural Security Provision
EditorsTessa Diphoorn, Erella Grassiani
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationOxon
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)978-0-8153-5676-9
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-351-12738-7
Publication statusPublished - 2019
SeriesRoutledge Studies in Anthropology


  • security
  • community policing
  • Bolivia
  • insecurity

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