This article was published in the journal Geoforum
Research on security and governance in marginalised urban spaces in Latin America has pointed to complex cycles of conflict and negotiation between state and non-state actors. However, many questions remain about the dynamics of such arrangements and how they may be affected by top-down policing reforms. Presenting fieldwork conducted in Tuiuti, a ‘pacified’ favela in Rio de Janeiro, this article proposes that ‘assemblage thinking’ can shed light on these issues. Despite rhetoric of reclaiming territory for the state, I argue that Tuiuti’s UPP (Police Pacification Unit) did not produce a new state-led security regime, but rather overlaid and fused with previous security practices enacted by traffickers. This gave rise to a ‘dual security assemblage’ characterised by the co-production of security through an emergent division of policing functions. The consequences for Tuiuti’s residents were thus not enhanced social control at the hands of police, but rather greater uncertainty about the rules they were expected to observe and whom was responsible for enforcing them. By identifying the broader power inequalities surrounding this local security assemblage and the ways in which they constrained its (trans)formation, I reject the claim that assemblage thinking offers a depoliticised or merely descriptive view of the social world.