CCDP Research Seminar
Alejandro Lerch seminar

Policías o bandidos? The embeddedness of the police and organised crime in federal policing agencies in 20th century Mexico

Alejandro Lerch (CCDP Visiting Fellow)
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P1-847 (and online)

This event is part of the CCDP's Research Seminar Series hosted and organised by Augusta Nannerini (Research Assistant) and Elio Panese (Student Researcher). 

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about the speaker

Alejandro Lerch holds a PhD from the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge. He studied Political science at the Universidad Autonoma de México and Security studies at Sciences-Po Paris.

Rooted in historical sociology, his Postdoctoral project, The historical sociology of police rackets and police-criminal entanglementsunderlines the historical importance of police rackets (police networks 'taxing' and enabling criminal and illegal activities) in the historical evolution of modern policing systems. Drawing from archival research in multiple countries, my doctoral thesis showed the embeddedness of the ‘police’ and the ‘criminal’ in the historical evolution of policing systems in Mexico – from criminals incorporated by the state to enforce enclosures and wage labour in the 19th century, to the instrumentalisation of drug and contraband markets to finance counterinsurgency campaigns in the 1970s, to the more recent entanglements between the police and drug markets taking place in a context of neoliberal transformation and extreme social violence. Using the Mexican experience to challenge common understandings of what policing is and does in historical praxis, my research casts police rackets and the embeddedness of the police and the criminal as a crucial but highly overlooked state-making mechanism in the constitution of political modernity.


About the CCDP Seminars Series

Each semester, CCDP hosts a series of internal seminars to give our faculty, staff and affiliates the opportunity to present their work and receive feedback. The goal of the seminars is to have an informal and frank conversation about the paper presented, and exchange ideas across disciplines and expertise, going beyond academic silos. Speakers at the seminars are both early career and senior scholars.

Augusta Nannerini and Elio Panese are organising the seminars for the academic year 2022-2023. For further information, get in touch at augusta.nannerini@graduateinstitute.ch or elio.panese@graduateinstitute.ch.