Tuesday Seminar on Latin American Studies


Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, Room S250

"Lawyers, Guns, and Money: Brazilian State Formation in Comparative Perspective"


Anthony Pereira, Director, King's Brazil Institute, King's College London.


Gabrielle Patterson


Steven Levitsky, Faculty Associate; Chair, Weatherhead Research Cluster on Global Populism/Challenges to Democracy. David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies, Department of Government, Harvard University; Harvard College Professor.


The Brazilian state in the 21st century appears to be a curious combination of high and low capacity. For example, it collects roughly 35 percent of GDP in tax revenue and coordinates the commanding heights of the economy in the service of domestic industry and export promotion. It also has sophisticated agencies at the central level to administer social policy, and robust accountability institutions. But it appears to be a low capacity state when it comes to the provision of order throughout the territory. The Brazilian state co-exists with non-state armed actors in poor neighborhoods, remote regions, and prisons, and its police forces engage in a high degree of lethal violence. What explains this combination of characteristics? This talk will review the literature on state formation in search of clues to this puzzle, and then suggest some lines of research that could help to answer the question.