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Romain Le Cour Grandmaison

Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science, Sorbonne University

Non-Resident Fellow

Research Project: Violent Brokers. From Political Intermediation to Patronage Wars: Social Order Amidst Violence in Michoacán and Guerrero, Mexico 

Research Interests: Comparative and historical sociology; anthropology of the state; illegal economies; social dynamics of violence; political ethnography


Romain Le Cour Grandmaison is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Sorbonne University in Paris. He has been a visiting scholar at the history department at Columbia University. His dissertation focuses on the role of violent intermediaries in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. Since 2013, Romain has conducted more than 60 weeks of cumulated fieldwork in the region, researching the role of Knight Templars Cartel (Caballeros Templarios) and Self-Defense Groups (Autodefensas de Michoacán) as political brokers. What he observed is the perpetuation of the use of violence in order to obtain or preserve a beneficial position within the political game, not in opposition to it.

His work draws from a broad literature in political sociology and anthropology on violence and state formation, studying the tensions and permanent reconfigurations that accompany the building of authority in a context of violence. In this context, his work shows that violent organizations are integrated and interested in the consolidation of brokerage channels with public authorities that represent, even within contexts of fragmentation of violence, the way the state is able to govern. In such politico-criminal configuration, violence is neither an anomaly, nor a variable that has to disappear. On the contrary, organized violence represents a crucial political resource, both for criminal organizations and the state. In fact, public authorities seek to model and steer private violence through coercion first, but also through negotiations that aim at using private armed or criminal groups in order to re-deploy state power.