City of Suspects: Crime in Mexico City, 1900–1931

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Duke University Press, Sep 26, 2001 - History - 365 pages
In City of Suspects Pablo Piccato explores the multiple dimensions of crime in early-twentieth-century Mexico City. Basing his research on previously untapped judicial sources, prisoners’ letters, criminological studies, quantitative data, newspapers, and political archives, Piccato examines the paradoxes of repressive policies toward crime, the impact of social rebellion on patterns of common crime, and the role of urban communities in dealing with transgression on the margins of the judical system.
By investigating postrevolutionary examples of corruption and organized crime, Piccato shines light on the historical foundations of a social problem that remains the main concern of Mexico City today. Emphasizing the social construction of crime and the way it was interpreted within the moral economy of the urban poor, he describes the capital city during the early twentieth century as a contested territory in which a growing population of urban poor had to negotiate the use of public spaces with more powerful citizens and the police. Probing official discourse on deviance, Piccato reveals how the nineteenth-century rise of positivist criminology—which asserted that criminals could be readily distinguished from the normal population based on psychological and physical traits—was used to lend scientific legitimacy to class stratifications and to criminalize working-class culture. Furthermore, he argues, the authorities’ emphasis on punishment, isolation, and stigmatization effectively created cadres of professional criminals, reshaping crime into a more dangerous problem for all inhabitants of the capital.
This unique investigation into crime in Mexico City will interest Latin Americanists, sociologists, and historians of twentieth-century Mexican history.
 

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Contents

The Modern City
17
The Policed City
34
The Construction of Mexican Criminology
50
THE PRACTICES
73
Honor and Violent Crime
77
Violence Against Women
103
Money Crime and Social Reactions to Larceny
132
THE CONSEQUENCES
161
The Invention of Rateros
163
Penal Experience in Mexico City
189
Crime Contested
211
Statistics of Crime
221
Notes
237
Bibliography
319
Index
349
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Pablo Piccato is Assistant Professor of History at Columbia University.

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