Security Matters: Evidence from Brazil, Colombia and Mexico


Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 12:00pm


CGIS South, S216

Speakers: Graham Denyer Willis, Senior Lecturer, University of Cambridge; Annette Idler, Visiting Scholar WCFIA, Harvard University; Director of Studies of the Changing Character of War Centre, University of Oxford

Moderator: Diane Davis, Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism, Graduate School of Design

Graham Denyer Willis is University Senior Lecturer in Development and Latin American Studies in the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge University, and Fellow of Queens’ College. His first ethnographic monograph, The Killing Consensus: Police, Organised Crime and the Regulation of Life and Death in Urban Brazil (California UP 2015) emerges from three years of participant observation with homicide and other detectives in São Paulo, Brazil. He has published work in the American Political Science Review, Public Culture, Comparative Studies in Society and History, World Development and the Latin American Research Review, among other journals. He is an Editor of the Journal of Latin American Studies. He is currently writing his second book, Politics Gone Missing, which traces the political conditions, spaces and social relations that allow 20-25,000 people to 'go missing' unexceptionally, every year, in São Paulo.

Annette Idler is Visiting Scholar at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. At the University of Oxford, she is the Director of Studies of the Changing Character of War Centre, and Senior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, and at the Department of Politics and International Relations. Dr Idler’s work focuses on the interface of conflict, security, and transnational organized crime. She currently is Principal Investigator of the Conflict Platform Project and of CONPEACE (From Conflict Actors to Architects of Peace). She is the author of Borderland Battles: Violence, Crime, and Governance at the Edges of Colombia’s War (Oxford University Press, 2019) and co-editor (with Juan Carlos Garzón Vergara) of Transforming the War on Drugs: Warriors, Victims and Vulnerable Regions (forthcoming with Hurst in 2020). Dr Idler has published numerous articles in the field of conflict and organized crime. Dr Idler also advises governments and international organizations on these subjects and is a regular expert for internationally renowned media outlets.

Diane E. Davis is the Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Before to moving to the GSD in 2011, Davis served as the head of the International Development Group in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, where she also had a term as Associate Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning. Trained as a sociologist, Davis’s research interests include the relations between urbanization and national development, comparative urban governance, socio-spatial practice in conflict cities, urban violence, and new territorial manifestations of sovereignty. Her books include Transforming Urban Transport (with Alan Altshuler) (Oxford University Press, 2018), Cities and Sovereignty: Identity Conflicts in the Urban Realm (Indiana University Press, 2011), Discipline and Development: Middle Classes and Prosperity in East Asia and Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2004; named the ASA’s 2005 Best Book in Political Sociology), Irregular Armed Forces and their Role in Politics and State Formation (Cambridge University Press, 2003), Urban Leviathan: Mexico City in the Twentieth Century (Temple University Press 1994; Spanish translation 1999).

A prior recipient of research fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Heinz Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the United States Institute for Peace, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Davis recently authored a study of Urban Resilience in Situations of Chronic Violence, prepared for USAID, which examines the coping and adapting strategies adopted by citizens and authorities to push back against violence in seven cities around the world. She has just completed two separate initiatives, for which she was Principal Investigator: a three year project funded by the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) focused on the role of political leadership in transforming urban transport and a three year project funded by Mexico’s national workers’ housing agency (INFONAVIT) oriented toward developing more sustainable social housing policies for Mexican cities. Founder and curator of the Mexican Cities Initiative at Harvard’s GSD, Davis is Chair of the David Rockefeller Center’s Faculty Committee on Mexico, member of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA) Executive Committee, and a contributing editor for the US Library of Congress, Handbook of Latin American Studies (Sociology: Mexico). She has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Planning Education and Research, City and Community, and the Journal of Latin American Studies.