15 May 2018

State-Criminal Collusions and Violence in Mexico

Last April Claudia Pfeifer Cruz, along with many Graduate Institute professors and researchers, went to San Francisco to contribute to the 2018 Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), which was centred around “Power of Rules and Rule of Power”. Claudia is a PhD candidate in International Relations/Political Science (IR/PS) and a teaching assistant for the Interdisciplinary Masters. Her doctoral  research focuses on the “state-criminal nexus in violent cities”. More details in this interview about her paper for the ISA convention and her impressions of this huge event.

Could you give us a brief summary of your conference paper? 

My paper discusses the links between public corruption, criminal groups and violence in Mexico. It aims to analyse how collusions between state actors and drug trafficking organisations influences violence levels across Mexican municipalities. In my theoretical framework, I argue that the effect of state-criminal collusions on violence is determined by the level of competition among drug trafficking organisations. I show that there is a non-monotonic relationship between collusions and violence, and that the direction and magnitude of this relationship depend on the competitiveness of a local drug market.

How was the paper received by the panel and audience? 

I presented my paper in one of ISA’s interdisciplinary panels, which means that there were many people from different fields not only presenting, but also attending the panel. For this reason, I received feedback from academics from fields other than political science. This was important to me because my research bridges notions from different disciplines besides political science, such as criminal justice and economics, for instance. Additionally, I had a larger audience than I expected, and people seemed genuinely interested in the topic. It was a pleasant surprise to see the topic attract a diverse audience. I also received many questions that have allowed me to think through some aspects of my theory and refine it. In general, people’s reactions to the type of research I am conducting here at the Institute was very positive.

Can you share your impressions of the ISA convention? 

ISA was a good opportunity for me to share and discuss my PhD research with a broader academic community. The convention attracts a large number of academics from all over the world and this was a unique chance to meet people working on similar topics as I in the United States, Latin America and Europe. I met people whose theories on criminal organisations and violence helped me to develop my own theory. Having the chance to receive feedback from these people is priceless. Additionally, it was interesting to see what people have been researching in the field in general. Lastly, ISA was also an opportunity for me to meet again some of my peers and professors from my former university in Brazil.

Download the paper >

Interview by Bu─čra Güngör, PhD candidate in International Relations and Political Science.