Anthropologies of extortion in Latin America


Over the last two decades there has been increasing concern about the spread of criminal political entanglements and a blurring between legitimate and illegal economies in Latin America and beyond. Against this backdrop extortion, the criminal offence of obtaining money, property, or services from an individual or institution through intimidation (or force), is said to be on the increase.

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?




Dr. Thomas Grisaffi and Dr. Omid Alizadeh Afrouzi
The audience
Prof. Dr. Lucia Michelutti
Dr. Patrick Naef
Q&A session
Prof. Dr. Lucia Michelutti
Q&A session
Dr. Miranda Sheild Johansson
Q&A session
Dr. Yathu Yogarajah
Dr. Tommaso Sbriccoli
Dr. Matías Dewey
Dr. Ashraf Hoque
Q&A session
Q&A session
Dr. Julia Sauma
Dr. Amy Penfield
Dr. Katherine Saunders-Hastings
Dr. Zora Hauser
Dr. Thomas Grisaffi
Prof. Dr. Desmond Arias
Group photo
Apero Riche
Apero Riche