Accepted paper:

Brokership and belonging: the role of Rio de Janeiro's paramilitary networks in shaping political settlements


Nicholas Pope (SOAS)

Paper short abstract:

Through an investigation of 'milícias' (paramilitary-style networks) in Rio de Janeiro, this paper explores how local level bargaining and brokerage can shape subnational political settlements. These processes can be shaped by geographies of difference, place, and histories/imaginaries.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the ways in which bargaining processes at the local level can shape subnational political settlements. Based on a relational study of brokers in Rio de Janerio's West Zone urban hinterlands, this paper examines the mediation of power between different network specialists able to navigate and manage different lifeworlds. It draws on participant observations, interviews and oral histories with key informants, and classified documentary archives from a state Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry. Specifically, it focuses on the spatial relationship between two brokers within the 'milícia,' a paramilitary-style network of policemen, firefighters, politicians, civic leaders, administrators, drug traffickers, and civilians that dominate the West Zone. In negotiating political support, resources, coercive power and information between themselves, these brokers endeavour to balance the tensions within their own personal friendship and the worlds of their friends and families, the demands of residents in the community where they live, the institutional pressures of the 'milícia' network, and the external effects of a macro-political landscape undergoing a tumultuous process of reordering. This paper finds that the shape of political settlements, and, therefore, the shape of violence, can be affected by geographies of difference, binding notions of place, and shared histories and imaginaries.

panel C6
Brokering development [paper and experimental]