Benjamin Lessing - "Making Peace in Drug Wars"
About the author: Benjamin Lessing, assistant professor of political science at the University of Chicago, studies "criminal conflict"—organized violence involving armed groups that do not seek formal state power, such as drug cartels, prison gangs, and paramilitaries. His first book, Making Peace In Drug Wars (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics, 2017), examines armed conflict between drug cartels and the state in Colombia, Mexico and Brazil. Currently, he is conducting field research for a second book, tentatively titled Inside Out: How Prison Gangs Organize Crime (And Threaten the State) From Behind Bars. It explores the counterproductive effects of mass-incarceration policies, which inadvertently strengthen armed criminal groups at the core of the state's coercive apparatus. He has also studied gang-state negotiations and armed electioneering by paramilitary groups’. Prior to his doctoral work at UC Berkeley, Lessing lived in Rio de Janeiro for five years, first as a Fulbright scholar, later conducting field research on arms trafficking in Latin America and the Caribbean for non-governmental organizations including Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Viva Rio, Brazil’s largest NGO. Lessing attended Kenyon College, and was born in Rochester, Michigan in 1973.
About the interlocutor: Brodwyn Fischer is a historian of Brazil and Latin America, especially interested in cities, citizenship, law, migration, race, and social inequality. Her first book, A Poverty of Rights, examined how weak citizenship rights and residential informality came to define urban poverty, popular social struggles, and the political dynamics of inequality in modern Brazil.