See It Through My Eyes:
Building Place and Autonomy at the Urban Margins
Photo Essay accepted in Contexts (American Sociological Association quarterly magazine)
If you had to show how your life is through images, what would you take pictures of? Images let us tell and see stories we could never access otherwise. For people living at the urban margins, whose lives are usually portrayed through the crime section of the evening news, photos can be a powerful tool to make sense of place and autonomy amidst the constraints of poverty and violence. With this in mind, we embarked on a journey to narrate a different story of one of Peru’s oldest and most criminalized shantytowns, Puerto Nuevo.
Governing Violence at the Urban Margins:
State Capacity, States of Emergency, and Institutional Isomorphism
Manuscript finished (to be submitted to the American Sociological Review)
This paper examines how state-related actors make sense of state policies to govern violence and compensate for the state’s incapacity to monopolize the legitimate use of violence. I contrast these meanings to citizens’ perceptions of policies that aim to address urban violence and the impact these policies have on their relationship with the state. Specifically, I analyze the Peruvian state’s use of state of emergency decrees to fight crime in Callao. This paper contributes to more recent scholarship calling for a more nuanced and relational view of states’ work and its relation to violence. Rather than measuring state capacity or automatically connecting violence to democratic institutional failure, I focus on how violence is governed. I move beyond dichotomic understandings of state capacity and violence governance to show what policies like SoEs, usually presented as non-democratic and a form of state violence, do for the state.