Space for the State? Police, Violence, and Urban Poverty in Brazil

Jeff Garmany*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the relationships between policing and space, querying perceived divisions between the state and society through an investigation of police work. By examining the tenuous position that police officers occupy (e.g., of state actor one moment and nonstate actor the next), it unpacks the state–society contradictions embodied by police. More directly, this article argues that state–society imaginaries are fraught with a host of epistemological tensions and that police work—and, in particular, moments of conflict and police violence—shows clearly the problems and abuses engendered by binary state–society frameworks. Through a case study of a favela community (low-income urban settlement) in northeast Brazil, it illustrates how distance between the state and civil society—and the discretion state actors hold over nonstate actors—relates to moments of police violence and ongoing abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1239-1255
Number of pages17
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2014


  • Brazil
  • favela
  • police
  • state
  • violence


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