Resisting Extortion: Victims, Criminals, and States in Latin America


Tuesday, February 22, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:20pm

For a recording of this event, please click here.

Speaker: Eduardo Moncada, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Barnard College
Discussant: Manuel Melendez, PhD Candidate in Government, Harvard University
Moderated by: Frances Hagopian, Jorge Paulo Lemann Senior Lecturer on Government, Harvard University

In settings where the state is unable or unwilling to enforce the rule of law, why do victims resist similar forms of criminal victimization in contrasting ways? Drawing on fieldwork in localities in Colombia, El Salvador and Mexico, this project weaves together interviews, focus groups, and participatory drawing exercises to explain why victims pursue distinct strategies to resist one of the most widespread, yet understudied, forms of victimization in Latin America: criminal extortion. The analysis traces and compares processes that vary in their objectives, levels of collective action, frequency, violent and/or non-violent practices, and forms of state participation.

Eduardo Moncada is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University. His research agenda focuses on the political economy of crime and violence as well as comparative urban politics in Latin America. He is the author of Cities, Business and the Politics of Urban Violence in Latin America (Stanford University Press, 2016) and co-editor of Inside Countries: Subnational Research in Comparative Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2019). His most recent book is Resisting Extortion: Victims, Criminals, and States in Latin America (Cambridge University Press).

Manuel Meléndez-Sánchez is PhD Candidate in the Government Department at Harvard University. He studies crime and politics in Central America and Mexico.

Frances Hagopian is Jorge Paulo Lemann Senior Lecturer on Government. She specializes in the comparative politics of Latin America, with emphasis on democratization, political representation, political economy, and religion and politics. Hagopian is author of Reorganizing Representation in Latin America (2014, Cambridge University Press), editor of Religious Pluralism, Democracy, and the Catholic Church in Latin America (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009), co-editor (with Scott Mainwaring) of The Third Wave of Democratization in Latin America: Advances and Setbacks (Cambridge 2005), and author of Traditional Politics and Regime Change in Brazil (Cambridge University Press, 1996) and numerous journal articles and book chapters. Her current work focuses on the establishment of a social welfare regime in Brazil, and the political economy of inequality in Latin America. She previously taught at the University of Notre Dame, where she was Director of the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, as well as Tufts and Harvard Universities. She has also been a visiting professor at the London School of Economics and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an Associate Member of Nuffield College, Oxford.

Presented in collaboration with the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs