Political Violence or Violent Politics?

Political Violence or Violent Politics?
26 Jun 2017, 10:00 to 27 Jun 2017, 16:00
Conference / Symposium
The Court Room, First Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Latin America is frequently associated in the popular imaginary with endemic violence. The conception is, of course, not without foundation. If colonisation ensured a violent birth for the modern era, revolutionary independence movements necessarily continued the trend, and politics have frequently been associated with turbulent periods of violence disrupting national consolidation and democratic development. Moreover, structural violence and the repression of marginalised groups have perpetuated inequalities which have periodically begotten further political uprisings. To focus only on recent history, the Cuban revolution responded to the abuses of the Batista dictatorship and inspired numerous insurrectionary movements across the region which sought the creation of more just societies through armed revolution. Dictatorships adhering to the Doctrine of National Security emerged throughout the 1970s and 1980s, responding with brutal repression, terrorising their populations, and arguably marking the high point for political violence per se. Nonetheless, the legacies of this violent past still cast a dark shadow over contemporary politics. Populations strive to reconcile memories of this recent history with fledgling democratic institutions, all the while grappling with severe economic difficulties and inequalities. The situation is further complicated by the emergence of organised crime and street gangs which have gravely affected politics from the most southerly point in the region, to the northern Mexican border, and beyond. If the recent peace process in Colombia imbues a certain optimism that political violence grounded in the past can be overcome, debates such as those over Brazilian efforts at ‘pacification’, the punitive approach to security employed by democratic governments in Central American, and the extreme narco-violence witnessed in Mexico, force us to ask whether the region has, in fact, entered into a new phase of violent politics.

Featuring a renowned panel of international scholars, this one-day symposium will seek to address this very question. Representing diverse disciplinary approaches and regional interests, the panel will draw on their vast experience researching violence within the region in order to stimulate debate over the key terms in the study of violence in contemporary Latin American scholarship. The panel will feature:

Mary Roldán, Professor of Latin American History at the City University of New York;

Michel Misse, Professor of Sociology at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and founding member of the Núcleo de Estudos da Cidadania, Conflito e Violência Urbana;

Rachel Sieder, Senior Research Professor at the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social in Mexico;

Gareth Jones, Professor of Urban Geography at LSE. 



Olga Jimenez
020 7862 8871