PhD Candidate, Maria-Fátima Santos's article "Modernizing Leviathan: Carceral Reform and the Struggle For Legitimacy in Brazil's Espírito Santo State" has been published in the American Sociological Review. Congrats Maria-Fátima!
Abstract: Incarceration has become naturalized as a primary mode of punishment within the penal systems of modern states across the globe. This study examines how states develop the capacity to execute incarceration as a routine state function. I argue that rationalization and bureaucratization are key for transforming carceral enclosures into a naturalized feature of states’ routine exercise of coercion. I develop this argument through analysis of a dynamic case of carceral modernization in the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo (2003 to 2014). I analyze the significance of coordinated violence and performative strategies for rulers to extend administrative capacity to incarceration and transform confinement into a legitimate and legitimizing instrument of state power. Findings demonstrate how coercive practices and other modes of violence that state authorities come to narrate as illegitimate are not antithetical to modernization. Rather, they become constitutive of the very process of consolidating and legitimizing rational-legal modes of administration that routinely exercise violence while more effectively being misrecognized as such. By extending inquiry to how states develop the administrative capacity to exercise penal power, this analysis makes several contributions to the political sociology of punishment and theories of state-building.