In Latin America, the return to democracy in the 1980s called for the critical analysis of the role of police forces in state terrorism, as well as the destabilizing impact of illegitimate repression and corruption for recently restored democracies. The genealogy of police violence has remained a constitutive issue for Latin American police studies. Since the early 2000s, researchers have looked anew into further practices and modes of police identification and subjectivization, which emerged and shaped the forces from country to country and throughout different historical periods. Studies in social and new political history, anthropology, and social sciences have increasingly turned their attention from the question of crime prevention and detection towards the ambivalent roles of police as the quotidian face of modern states, civic order-maker, producer and broker of formal and informal knowledge. The contributions in this bilingual volume address these questions from different perspectives. They mirror the thematic and conceptual diversity, as well as the intense exchange that has characterized the field of police studies in the last four decades in both Latin America and Europe. They form a mosaic encompassing different, yet related contexts and modes of police modernization. Unlike orthodox narratives, they point to the significance of breaks and continuities, paradoxes, and multiplicity within the institution and everyday practices. In this way, the case studies provide a better understanding of the specific formation processes of modern police, as well as enrich the discussions on the promises, dead ends, and achievements of social, cultural, and political modernization in Latin America.
In Latin America, the return to democracy in the 1980s called for the critical analysis of the role of police forces in state terrorism, as well as the destabilizing impact of illegitimate repression