Dissertation Book Project

Machine [Gun] Politics: Why Politicians Cooperate with Organized Crime

One avenue for understanding the porousness between criminal organizations and politics is by studying why and how they cooperate peacefully instead of focusing on coercive or violent interactions. My dissertation book project, Machine [Gun] Politics: Why Politicians Cooperate with Organized Crime, investigates the conditions under which politicians willingly make deals with members of organized criminal groups. Using a mixed methods approach to analyze several forms of criminal-politician interactions in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this project explores the following questions: ​

  • Under what conditions is cooperation with criminal organizations an election-winning strategy?

  • Which candidates win in criminal strongholds, and why? 

  • What are the consequences for voters who elect a politician that makes deals with criminal organizations?

Working Papers

Criminal Capacity: Why Some Criminal Groups are Better at Voter Mobilization than Others (Abstract)

- Recipient of the Best Paper Award from the Subnational Politics and Society Section, Latin American Studies Association (2020)

- In the news: Pindograma, Piauí

Why Limiting Police Raids Decreased Criminal Violence in Rio de Janeiro. (Paper) (PosterUnder Review. 

- Related writings: “Brazilian police killed 27 people in a single raid this month. That doesn’t make Rio de Janeiro safer.The Monkey Cage, Washington Post.

- In the news: The WorldPiauí, O DiaADPF Brazilian Supreme Court Proceedings 

The World Cup and the Spatial Distribution of Violence (Available upon request)


Book Chapters

"How Should Lava Jato End?," in Corruption and the Lava Jato Scandal in Latin America (eds. Paul Lagunes and Jan Svejnar), Routledge Corruption and Anti-Corruption Studies, 2020. (with Matthew Stephenson) (Portuguese Edition)

- In the news: Estadão

​Other ​Writings and Media 

  • Mapping criminal factions in Rio de Janeiro:

    • I've created a time series of criminal dominance in Rio de Janeiro's favelas using open source data reporting on criminal activity (newspapers, blogs) from 2015 - present. See sample data here and an animation of reported incidents (takeovers, leadership turnovers) to the right.

  • I have appeared on a few podcasts to discuss my work on crime in Brazil:

  • I am a contributor to the Global Anticorruption Blog on topics related to corruption in Latin America.

  • I have consulted for Transparency International and UNODC about corruption, drug policy, and security in the Americas and Africa.