Also referred as ‘protection rackets’, extortionists are typically the source of violence as well as the providers of protection from the violence they mete out. The so-called ‘offer one can’t refuse’ has come to occupy a quintessential position in the global imaginary of mafia-type-criminal organizations. But extortion also exists beyond clandestine criminal networks, and it is becoming a profitable source of livelihood and governance and a key visible social relation in many parts of the world.
Despite this observable trend, much of academic, policy and media attention still remain focused on extortion’s economic transactional nature rather than its lasting effects in shaping social and moral relations, effects that reach beyond the moment and place of the transaction, as well as its original rationale.
This one-day workshop explores ethnographically ‘offers one can’t refuse’ and asks what are the specificities of the social life of extortion in the Latin American context?