Erika Robb Larkins

Event Start Date: March 20, 2017 10:00 AM
Event End Date: March 20, 2017 11:00 AM


Guarding the Body: Private Security Work in Rio de Janeiro
201A Criser Hall (LVV Room)

This presentation will offer a preview of my new book project, Vigilante: Race, Class, and the Labor of Private Security in Rio, which examines the micro-politics of security work in the context of Olympic Rio de Janeiro. Drawing on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the private security industry, my talk will focus on the training of low-level guards, examining the centrality of the body and embodied experience to their work.

In a racially stratified society where lower class, dark-skinned bodies are often equated with poverty and criminality, security guards are required to perform an image of upstanding, respectable, law-abiding citizens in order to do their jobs protecting corporate property. Guards learn techniques of body management at security schools as part of their basic training—and also how to subdue the bodies of others, including those of white elites, who represent a constant challenge to their authority. Working from my own experiences as a student in private security schools, I argue for the relevance of an understanding of the body and its significations to private security work and governance in the neoliberal city.