Before the Body Count: Homicide Statistics and Everyday Governance in Latin America
Willis, Graham Denyer
Journal of Latin American Studies
Cambridge University Press
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Willis, G. D. (2016). Before the Body Count: Homicide Statistics and Everyday Governance in Latin America. Journal of Latin American Studies https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022216X16000407
Homicide statistics are a widely accepted metric of security and democracy. There is reason to believe that these statistics are not reflective of what is commonly thought. This article argues for a focus on how bodies come or do not come to be -of what happens before states count bodies. The experience of São Paulo relates that how many people die and how many do not, is connected to the governance of an organized crime group known as the PCC. The punishment practices of the PCC and groups like it throughout Latin America reshape the lived paradigm of governance over life and death, albeit in concealed ways. Statistics are produced by and productive of a de jure state, different from the state de facto. The acceptance of state-made homicide figures, whether for analysis, visualization or political claims, is consequential for the future of lived security and social science knowledge production.
homicide, governance, statistics, organized crime, police, São Paulo, Brazil, Latin America
The author would like to thank the Drugs, Security and Democracy program of the Social Science Research Council/ Open Society Foundations for support in carrying out associated research and the Social Science and Humanities of Canada for Post-Doctoral Fellowship support during the writing of this article.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022216X16000407
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/253059