The Punitive City

Privatized Policing and Protection in Neoliberal Mexico

Markus-Michael Müller


Reveals how the increasingly privatized and politicized nature of policing has resulted in the criminalization of urban poverty.

In the eyes of the global media, modern Mexico has become synonymous with crime, violence and insecurity. But while media fascination and academic engagement has focussed on the drug war, an equally dangerous phenomenon has taken root. In The Punitive City, Markus-Michael Müller argues that what has emerged in Mexico is not just a punitive urban democracy, in which those at the social and political margins face growing violence and exclusion. More alarmingly, it would seem that clientelism in the region is morphing into a private, political protection racket.

Vital reading for anyone seeking to understand the implications of a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly widespread across Latin America.

Author Bio

Markus-Michael Müller is an assistant professor of Latin American politics at the Freie Universität Berlin. His work has focused on transnational security governance, postcolonial state formation, and the urbanization of neoliberalism. He is the author of Public Security in the Negotiated State: Policing in Latin America and Beyond (2012).

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Making of the Punitive City
  • 2. Neoliberal Insecurities and Resilient Clientelism
  • 3. Lawfare and Resistance at the New Urban Frontier
  • 4. Securitizing Civic Activism
  • 5. Self-Policing, Commodified Protection and Community Justice
  • Conclusion


'[A]n outstanding contribution to critical urban security studies.'
European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
‘Offers a wealth of original and stimulating insights.’
John Gledhill, author of The New War on the Poor: The Production of Insecurity in Latin America

‘Deeply compelling. This is not just analytically productive, but also absolutely necessary for a thoughtful analysis of violence and urban life in Latin America.’
Graham Denyer Willis, author of The Killing Consensus: Police, Organized Crime and the Regulation of Life and Death in Urban Brazil

‘Provides wonderful insights into the complex practices of security in contemporary Mexico City.’
Enrique Desmond Arias, author of Drugs and Democracy in Rio de Janeiro

‘Müller’s conceptually sophisticated and empirically grounded critical gaze spares nobody and nothing.’
Wil G. Pansters, Utrecht University/University of Groningen


Publication Date: 15 June 2016
192 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783606962
Hardback: 9781783606979
eBook ePub: 9781783606993
eBook PDF: 9781783606986
eBook Kindle: 9781783607006

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