Desmond Arias

Credentials: Brazil

2001 SKJ Fellow

“I was a contemporary of Scott’s in the political science department at UW-Madison. We took a Latin American politics class together before he left for the field. He was a very bright guy and my conversations with him helped me to think through some of the problems that I have looked at in the years since.

The Scott Kloeck-Jenson International Internship Fellowship has had an important effect on my career and has helped me to become a practically engaged scholar. When I applied for the funds I was able to find an internship with an NGO that was implementing community police reform in one of the shantytowns I had worked in during my dissertation research. The experience helped me to rethink some of what I knew about the communities I was working in and showed me another way of looking at solutions to the problem of violence in Rio shantytowns. This contributed to the book I published in 2006 — Drugs and Democracy in Rio de Janeiro: Trafficking, Social Networks, and Public Security — and to an article I published. Beyond this it also provided me with important contacts in the NGO community in Rio that have continued to be important collaborators in the years since.

One of my current lines of study develops directly out of the work I did with the support of the SKJ award and focuses on community policing in Latin America. I have an article coming out in the journal Comparative Politics on this topic. Even more closely aligned to the goals of the awards — to promote social justice — I am also working on a best practices manual on community oriented policing in Latin America that brings together scholars and practitioners from around the region to talk about the effectiveness of different community policing strategies. Steve Smith (Associate Director, Global Studies) actually helped out on this project last year translating some of our chapters.

This work on community policing has recently developed into other opportunities. I am currently serving as a consultant to the Ford Foundation on public security policy in Brazil and to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on community policing. So, to summarize, the SKJ award has had a notable effect on my career and has helped me not just in my scholarly endeavors but in helping me to become a scholar directly engaged with building real world solutions to the challenges I study.”