Police as State: Governing Citizenship Through Violence

  • Guillermina Seri
  • Jinee Lokaneeta


In this chapter, Guillermina Seri and Jinee Lokaneeta argue that police abuse reproduces “violent exclusions” from citizenship in democracies. In particular, it makes visible a biopolitical mechanism generating categories of individuals allowed access to different levels of citizenship, or none, in ways that echo dominant class, racial, caste, religious, or gender hierarchies in a society. Rooted in political theory, the chapter draws on a most different comparison of the illustrative cases of Argentina and India. Despite their contrasting historical and institutional trajectories, India and Argentina converge on their uneven conditions in guaranteeing citizenship rights. Their findings highlight parallel mechanisms of informal, legal or extralegal state violence, institutional practices, and public discourse through which states regulate access to rights and citizenship that tend to remain concealed and tolerated.


  1. Asian Centre for Human Rights Torture in India. 2011. Delhi: ACHR.Google Scholar
  2. Balibar, Etienne. 2008. “Historical Dilemmas of Democracy and Their Contemporary Relevance for Citizenship.” Rethinking Marxism 20 (4): 522–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baxi, Upendra. 2002. “The (Im)possibility of Constitutional Justice.” In India’s Living Constitution. Ideas, Practices, Controversies, edited by Zoya Hasan, E. Sridharan, and R. Sudarshan, 31–63. New Delhi: Permanent Black.Google Scholar
  4. Benhabib, Seyla. 2004. The Rights of Others: Aliens, Residents, and Citizens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brinks, Daniel M. 2006. “The Rule of (Non)law: Prosecuting Police Killings in Brazil and Argentina.” In Informal Institutions & Democracy: Lessons from Latin America, edited by Gretchen Helmke and Steven Levitsky, 201–26. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Caimari, Lila. 2009. La ciudad y el crimen. Delito y vida cotidiana en Buenos Aires, 1880–1940. Editorial Sudamericana.Google Scholar
  7. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS). 2013. “Caso Bulacio: 22 años para llegar a juicio.” September 24.
  8. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS). 2016. Derechos humanos en la Argentina Informe 2016. Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires: Siglo Veintiuno Editores.Google Scholar
  9. Cingranelli, David L., David L. Richards, and K. Chad Clay. 2014. “The CIRI Human Rights Dataset.” Version 2014.04.14.
  10. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. 2015. Rough Roads to Equality: Women Police in South Asia. Delhi.Google Scholar
  11. Coppedge, Michael, John Gerring, Staffan I. Lindberg, Svend-Erik Skaaning, Jan Teorell, David Altman, Michael Bernhard, M. Steven Fish, Adam Glynn, Allen Hicken, Carl Henrik Knutsen, Kyle L. Marquardt, Kelly McMann, Valeriya Mechkova, Pamela Paxton, Daniel Pemstein, Laura Saxer, Brigitte Seim, Rachel Sigman, and Jeffrey Staton. 2017. “V-Dem Codebook v7.1.” Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project.Google Scholar
  12. CORREPI. 2012. Boletín informativo nº 654, April 23.Google Scholar
  13. CORREPI. 2013. “Jorge Daniel Reyna, como Walter, pero hoy.” Boletín informativo nº 704, November 17.Google Scholar
  14. CORREPI. 2015a. Boletín informativo nº 746, January 14.Google Scholar
  15. CORREPI. 2015b. Antirrepresivo 2015. Los gobiernos pasan, la represión queda.Google Scholar
  16. CORREPI. 2016. Archivo 2016. Recopilación de casos de personas asesinadas por el aparato represivo del estado 1983/2016.
  17. Dubber, Markus Dirk. 2005. The Police Power: Patriarchy and the Foundations of American Government. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Foucault, Michel. 1980. Power/Knowledge. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  19. Foucault, Michel. 2003. Society Must Be Defended. New York: Picador.Google Scholar
  20. Human Rights Watch. 2009. Broken System: Dysfunction, Abuse, and Impunity in the Indian Police. New York, NY: Human Rights Watch.Google Scholar
  21. Kalmanowiecki, Laura. 2000. “Origins and Applications of Political Policing in Argentina.” Latin American Perspectives 27: 36–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lerman, Amy E., and Vesla M. Weaver. 2014. Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar
  23. Lokaneeta, Jinee. 2011. Transnational Torture: Law, Violence and State Power in the United States and India. New York: New York University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lokaneeta, Jinee, and Amar Jesani. 2016. “Torture and Detention in India: Challenges to Prevention.” In Does Torture Prevention Work? edited by Richard Carver and Lisa Handle, 501–47. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. Google Scholar
  25. Maranhão Costa, Arthur. 2011. “Police Brutality in Brazil.” Latin American Perspectives 38 (5).Google Scholar
  26. Marshall, T.H., and Tom Bottomore. 1992. Citizenship and Social Class. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  27. People’s Union for Civil Liberties. 1981. “Deaths in Police Custody.” PUCL Bulletin.
  28. People’s Union for Democratic Rights. 1994. Custodial Rape: A Report on the Aftermath. Delhi.Google Scholar
  29. People’s Union for Democratic Rights. 2000. Dead Men’s Tales: Deaths in Police Custody. Delhi.Google Scholar
  30. People’s Union for Democratic Rights. 2004. Custodial Deaths in Delhi, 2003. Delhi.Google Scholar
  31. Police Organisation in India. 2008. Commonweath Human Rights Initiative. Delhi.Google Scholar
  32. Pontón, Daniel. 2007. “Recursos Humanos de la Fuerza pública en América Latina.” Urvio 2.Google Scholar
  33. Ramakrishnan, Nitya. 2013. In Custody: Law, Impunity and Prisoner Abuse in South Asia. New Delhi: Sage.Google Scholar
  34. Rejali, Darius. 2008. Torture and Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar
  35. Roy, Anupama. 2017. Citizenship in India. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  36. Seri, Guillermina. 2012. Seguridad: Crime, Police Power, and Democracy in Argentina. New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  37. Singh, Ujjwal K. 2007. The State, Democracy and Anti-Terror Laws in India. New Delhi: Sage.Google Scholar
  38. Standing, Guy. 2011. The Precariat. The New Dangerous Class. London and New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  39. Verdú, María del Carmen. 2009. Represión en Democracia. Buenos Aires: Herramienta ediciones. Google Scholar
  40. World Values Survey, 2012 India and 2013 Argentine Surveys.
  41. Young, Iris Marion. 1989. “Polity and Group Difference: Critique of the Ideal of Universal Citizenship.” Ethics 99 (January): 250–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guillermina Seri
    • 1
  • Jinee Lokaneeta
    • 2
  1. 1.Union CollegeSchenectadyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political Science and International RelationsDrew UniversityMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations