News & Events

Cosmopolis lunch seminar with Lucas Melgaço (VUB): The securitization of Latin American cities.

26 October 2017 , 13.00h-14.00h VUB - Pleinlaan 2, BE-1050 Brussels, Building F, Room F 4.66

A foreigner unfamiliar with the Latin American landscapes would immediately be surprised by the abundance of security equipment. Fences, cameras, high walls, watchtowers, and gates are practically omnipresent in most of the medium and large cities. The process of securitization is a consequence of both the high criminal rates that have followed from the democratization of these countries and the effect of an intensification of fear of urban violence. In many Latin American countries there is also a very tangible distrust of the police and other forces of order, a consequence of the fact that more than half of these countries were subjected to military dictatorships in the last century. The authoritarian regimes influenced the way security is perceived and promoted by creating a sense of distance between law enforcement agents and individual citizens. Such militarization is not only present in the organization of the police forces but, rather, in general society and the sense or meaning of space as a whole. Keeping in mind the obvious dangers of oversimplifying Latin America into one homogenous block of countries, this presentation will focus on certain similarities that can be identified in relationship to the recent securitization of Latin American cities and will present some particularities of the Brazilian case.

Speaker: Lucas Melgaço  VUB – Crime & Society

Lucas Melgaço is assistant professor at the Department of Criminology of Vrije Universiteit Brussel, where he teaches the courses "Crime and the City" and "Police and Security" to master students in criminology. He is a former FWO post-doctoral researcher at the same department and a former post-doctoral researcher in sociology at the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University, Canada. Lucas has a doctorate degree in human geography from a partnership between the University of São Paulo and the University of Paris 1 – Panthéon Sorbonne.

His main scientific interests are in the domains of surveillance, public order, public spaces, urban conflicts, public demonstrations, epistemology of geography, and the relations between the information and communication technologies and security. He recently also worked in introducing the theory of Brazilian geographer Milton Santos to the English-speaking community. Lucas is editor-in-chief of the journal Criminological Encounters.

(Article available here: http://www.scielo.br/pdf/urbe/v7n2/en_2175-3369-urbe-7-2-149.pdf)