Killing in the Slums: Social Order, Criminal Governance, and Police Violence in Rio de Janeiro

William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305
  • Beatriz Magaloni-Kerpel

Abstract: State interventions against drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) sometimes work to improve security, but often exacerbate violence. To understand why, this paper offers a theory about different social order dynamics among five types of criminal regimes – Insurgent, Bandit, Symbiotic, Predatory, and Anarchic. These differ according to whether criminal groups confront or collude with state actors; predate or cooperate with the community; and hold a monopoly or contest territory with rival DTOs. Police interventions in these criminal orders pose different challenges and are associated with markedly different local security outcomes. Evidence for the theory is provided by the use a multi-method research design combining quasiexperimental statistical analyses, extensive qualitative research and a large N survey in the context of Rio de Janeiro’s “Pacifying Police Units” (UPPs), which sought to reclaim control of the slums from organized criminal groups.


Bio: Beatriz Magaloni is a Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University. She is also an affiliated faculty at the Stanford Center on Global Poverty and Development.

Her research focuses on the political economy of development. Beatriz’s work falls into four themes:  the study of authoritarian regimes; distributive politics; “traditional” forms of governance and how these compare to “modern” democratic institutions; and drug-trafficking violence and citizen security. Much of my research has been on Latin America.  

Beatriz is the founding director of the Poverty, Violence + Governance Lab, a place for action–oriented research that establishes partnerships with government agencies, police departments, and civil society organizations to conduct research that aims to generate knowledge as to what works and doesn’t to control violence, improve the functioning and accountability of security institutions, restrain human rights abuses, and increase opportunities for at-risk youth. The Lab engages researchers and students — undergraduates, M.A. and Ph.D. candidates — from the fields of political science, education, economics, international policy studies, and engineering.

She is the author of Voting for Autocracy (2006, Cambridge University Press –winner of the Leon D. Epstein Outstanding Book Award for the best book written in the previous two years on parties and elections and the Best Book Award from the American Political Science Association’s Comparative Democratization Section). Beatriz is also the author of The Political Logic of Poverty Relief: Electoral Strategies and Social Policy in Mexico(2016, Cambridge University Press, co-authored with Alberto Diaz-Cayeros and Federico Estévez).

Beatriz’s articles have appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Conflict Resolution, World Development, Comparative Political Studies, Annual Review of Political Science, Latin American Research Review, International Journal of Educational Development, Latin American Politics and Society, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Journal of Theoretical Politics, and Política y Gobierno.

Beatriz received her Ph.D. in political science from Duke University. She also holds a Law Degree from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM).