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Esteban Salmon Perrilliat

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Graduate Student Fellowship | 2022 - 2023 Academic Year

Power to the Prosecution? An Ethnography of Criminal Investigation in Mexico City

Governance and Institutions

This dissertation theorizes the role of criminal prosecutors in democratic societies by observing their daily work in Mexico City. Based on a complex data set of field notes, interviews and archival notes, this dissertation argues that the power of prosecutors emerges from their intermediary position between the discretionary use of violence of police forces in the street and the legal protection of individual rights carried out by judges in courtrooms. Criminal justice reform efforts trying to strengthen the rule of law should then pay more attention to the informal leverage of prosecutors and not only to their formal statutory powers.

Esteban Salmon Perrilliat, Department of Anthropology

Esteban Salmon Perrilliat

Esteban Salmón Perrilliat is a PhD candidate in anthropology who studies the criminal justice system in Mexico. His dissertation draws on eighteen months of participant observation in Mexico City State Attorney’s Office and one of the city’s neighborhoods with the highest rates of incarceration to understand how the hemispheric War on Drugs and the wave of adversarial criminal justice reforms in Latin America have affected the everyday work of criminal prosecutors. By tracing the pressures and dilemmas prosecutors confront on their daily work, Esteban seeks to contribute to the growing discussion questioning what their role should be in democratic societies. Esteban research has been funded by the Fulbright Scholarship, the National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council.

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