I am Assistant Professor at the University of Florida, with a joint appointment in the Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law and the Center for Latin American Studies. My research and teaching focus on policing, violence, and politics in Latin America. I am also passionate about qualitative inquiry and ethnography, and served as Managing Editor of Qualitative Sociology between 2010 and 2019. Click here for my CV.
My first book, Harassed: Gender, Bodies, and Ethnographic Research (University of California Press, 2019), is co-authored with Patricia Richards. Harassed examines the androcentric, racist, and colonialist epistemological foundations of ethnographic methodology that contribute to silence surrounding sexual harassment and other forms of violence researchers encounter in the field. Check out the New Books Network Podcast episode where we talk about Harassed here and our book talk with Randol Contreras and Kendal Broad at University of Florida here.
My second book manuscript, Police and the Revolution: Chaos, Conflict, and State Violence in Venezuela, uses seven years of ethnographic, interview, survey, and archival research from 2012 to 2019 to trace policing and security reforms through the Bolivarian Revolution—a revolution grounded in the socialist political project associated with the government of Hugo Chávez—to understand why state violence increased during this period. I argue that in order to account for police violence, and increasing insecurity in the country more generally, we must turn attention to the chaos produced within the state taken over and remade by revolutionaries. As actors struggled over the long term to define the aims of the Chavista political project, cobble together solutions to opposition, and control state resources they produced contradictory and incoherent policies to social problems. This incoherence destabilized state institutions and generated chaos and conflict from the top down as lower-level state actors (such as police officers) had to navigate a constantly shifting policy landscape.
Along with David Smilde and Verónica Zubillaga, I am co-editor of The Paradox of Violence in Venezuela, forthcoming with University of Pittsburgh Press. Using empirical case studies, we analyze why violence increased in the country at the same time that poverty and inequality decreased under President Hugo Chávez. The chapters in this volume seek to reorient thinking about the relationship between crime, violence, poverty, and inequality. We contribute to long-standing debates in sociology and criminology, arguing that particular models of governance and citizen security policies affect how this relationship plays out.
My research has been published in Sociological Forum; The Sociological Quarterly; Journal of Latin American Studies; Crime, Law, and Social Change; REVISTA M. Estudos sobre a Morte, os Mortos e o Morrer, and Violence: An International Journal, and funded by organizations such as CAF, EGAP, and EDI. I am an active contributor to popular conversations on policing, politics, and security reform in Latin America, publishing in venues such as NACLA, The Conversation, Insight Crime, the Christian Science Monitor, and Foreign Policy in Focus. I am also a frequent contributor to the Washington Office on Latin America's blog Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights.
Through the Metaketa Initiative IV, I have worked with researchers across six different countries in the Global South to answer the question: Can community policing be used effectively by new and reconstituted police forces in contexts in which the legitimacy of the state is challenged? Our book manuscript--Building Trusted, Effective Police: Evidence on Community Policing from Six Coordinated Field Experiments in the Global South--is currently under contract with Cambridge University Press. Along with Eric Arias (World Bank), Dorothy Kronick (University of Pennsylvania) and Tara Slough (NYU) I coordinated the field experiment in Medellín, Colombia, organizing over 700 community meetings across the city. Through this project I have compiled the largest qualitative dataset on police-community interactions across the region.
I am currently collaborating with Verónica Zubillaga (Universidad Simón Bolívar, REACIN), Leonard Gómez (Universidad Nacional Experimental de la Seguridad), and Fráncisco Sánchez (REACIN) to analyze police militarization and organized crime in Venezuela.