Machine [Gun] Politics: Why Politicians Cooperate with Criminal Groups

Date: 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 12:00pm

Location: 

Virtual

Speaker: Jessie Bullock, PhD Candidate in Government, Harvard University

Discussants: Ignacio Cano, Professor of Sociology, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro; Ben Lessing, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

Moderator: Frances Hagopian, Jorge Paulo Lemann Senior Lecturer on Government, Harvard University

Why do politicians cooperate peacefully with organized criminal groups? Interactions between organized criminal groups and politicians are often either depicted as coercive or where the politician is a member of the criminal group. Using mixed-methods research on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this project shows that there is a third explanation for cooperation: politicians willingly engage with organized criminal groups at arms-length when it is in their electoral interest to seek out these arrangements and when they have a low chance of being caught.

Jessie Bullock is a PhD student in the Department of Government. She studies Comparative Politics and Political Economy, with substantive interests in urban development, large-scale corruption, organized crime, and bureaucracy. Thus far, she has concentrated her research in the Western hemisphere with a particular focus on Brazil. She is currently working on a project on the sub-municipal politics of organized crime in Rio de Janeiro and another project on the nature of bribery in the Fujimori regime in Peru. Prior to arriving at Harvard, she earned her Master's in International Policy from Stanford University in 2015 and was a case writer for the Leadership Academy for Development. She began her studies of organized crime and corruption in Brazil as a Boren International Security Fellow in 2012. Jessie graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2011 with a B.S. in Human and Organizational Development.

Presented in collaboration with the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the Institute of Politics, and the  Harvard Political Union (HPU).

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