Most research on the inner workings of the modern state focuses on its legal and public interventions. Far less analytic attention has been paid to the clandestine actions and interactions of state actors. Drawing on an original legal archive of court cases in Argentina, including hundreds of pages of wiretapped communications, and on ethnographic fieldwork this talk dissects the relational dynamics of collusion between police and drug dealers and its impact on the daily life of marginalized urban spaces. After detailing common practices used to shield participants from law enforcement and secure the competitive advantage of certain groups, Javier Auyero argues that collusion is an error-filled, improvised, and interactive process that regulates illicit drug markets and shapes daily interpersonal violence.
Javier Auyero is the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Professor in Latin American Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he directs the Urban Ethnography Lab. His main areas of research, writing and teaching are urban poverty, political ethnography, and collective violence. He is the author of various books including Poor People’s Politics: Peronist Survival Networks and the Legacy of Evita (Duke University Press, 2001), Patients of the State, The Politics of Waiting in Argentina (Duke University Press, 2012), Flammable: Environmental Suffering in an Argentine Shantytown (co-authored with Débora Swistun, Oxford University Press, 2009), In Harm’s Way: The Dynamics of Urban Violence (co-authored with María Fernanda Berti, Princeton University Press, 2015), and the recently published The Ambivalent State: Police-Criminal Collusion at the Urban Margins (co-authored with Katherine Sobering, Oxford University Press, 2019). He is also the co-editor of Violence at the Urban Margins (with Philippe Bourgois and Nancy Scheper Hughes, Oxford University Press, 2015) and editor of Invisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City (University of Texas Press, 2015).
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Photo credit: María Fernanda Berti