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 explores the contradictory responses of politicians, civic activists and local residents, to the extreme levels of security privatisation sweeping the region. Considering a wider context of urbanised neoliberalism and the democratisation of local politics, Müller argues that what has emerged in Mexico is not just a punitive urban democracy in which, despite the formal legal empowerment of the city's residents, 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'. By side-stepping the neoliberal inspired, drug-war discourse Punishing the City identifies the root causes of insecurity in the region, and is vital reading for anyone seeking to understand the implications of a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly widespread across Latin America.
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Markus-Michael Müller reveals how the increasingly privatised and politicised nature of policing has resulted in the criminalisation of urban poverty and the marginalisation of social movements.