Machine [Gun] Politics: Why Politicians Cooperate with Criminal Groups


Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Virtual event, registration required

Why do politicians cooperate peacefully with organized criminal groups? Interactions between organized criminal groups and politicians are often either depicted as coercive or where the politician is a member of the criminal group. Using mixed-methods research on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a project by Jessie Bullock, PhD Candidate in Government, Harvard University, shows that there is a third explanation for cooperation: politicians willingly engage with organized criminal groups at arms-length when it is in their electoral interest to seek out these arrangements and when they have a low chance of being caught.

Join this discussion featuring: 

  • Jessie Bullock, PhD Candidate in Government, Harvard University
  • Ignacio Cano, Professor of Sociology, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro
  • Ben Lessing, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
  • Frances Hagopian (Moderator), Jorge Paulo Lemann Senior Lecturer on Government, Harvard University
Register here 

This event is hosted by the David Rockfeller Center for Latin American Studies and co-sponsored by the Ash Center. 

About the Speaker 

Jessie Bullock is a PhD student in the Department of Government. She studies Comparative Politics and Political Economy, with substantive interests in urban development, large-scale corruption, organized crime, and bureaucracy. Thus far, she has concentrated her research in the Western hemisphere with a particular focus on Brazil. She is currently working on a project on the sub-municipal politics of organized crime in Rio de Janeiro and another project on the nature of bribery in the Fujimori regime in Peru. Prior to arriving at Harvard, she earned her Master's in International Policy from Stanford University in 2015 and was a case writer for the Leadership Academy for Development. She began her studies of organized crime and corruption in Brazil as a Boren International Security Fellow in 2012. Jessie graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2011 with a B.S. in Human and Organizational Development.