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Desmond Arias

Associate Professor; Director, MS in Peace Operations


3351 Fairfax Dr., MS 3B1
Arlington, Virginia 22201



Enrique Desmond Arias is an Associate Professor of Public Policy in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.   His research focuses on security and politics in Latin America and the Caribbean. He is the author of Drugs and Democracy in Rio de Janeiro: Trafficking, Social Networks, and Public Security published by the University of North Carolina Press and is co-editor of Violent Democracies in Latin America published by Duke University Press. He is currently preparing a book manuscript tentatively entitled “Criminal Politics: Illicit Activities and Governance in Latin American and the Caribbean.” This book focuses on the impact of gangs and other armed groups on micro-level politics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Medellín, Colombia, and Kingston, Jamaica. His writing has appeared in Comparative Politics, Perspectives on Politics, the Latin American Research Review, the Journal of Latin American Studies, Policing and Society, Qualitative Sociology, Latin American Politics and Society, Studies in Comparative International Development, Americas Quarterly, Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica and the Revista de Estudios Socio-Juridicos. United States Fulbright Commission, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Open Society Foundation, the Tinker Foundation, the National Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation have provided funding for his research. In addition to his scholarship, he has served as a consultant to the Ford Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UNHabitat). As part of his work with these last two organizations, Professor Arias was the principal author of the United Nations Introductory Handbook on Policing Urban Space.

Areas of Research

  • Comparative Politics
  • Democratization
  • International Development
  • International Security
  • Latin America
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Security Policy
  • Urban Policy