Dr Deborah Fromm

The business of urban security: Insurance and illegal protection in violent cities

Funding period: 10 January 2024 – 10 October 2024
Type of funding: International Fellowship

Deborah Fromm is an urban ethnographer with expertise in extreme inequalities, sociology of finance and private insurance, political effects of illegal markets on public security, the economic production of political otherness and urban polarised conflicts in the South.

She is a researcher at the Nucleus for Urban Ethnography of the Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning (CEBRAP) and holds a PhD and a Master’s degree from the University of Campinas, with visiting periods at Goldsmiths College, University of London (6 months) and the Centre for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS, Mexico City – 3 months). She has conducted multi-site field research in Brazil and Ghana, and collaborates with the project ‘Global Cars: a transnational urban research on the informal vehicle economy (Europe, Africa and South America)’.

As a USF International Fellow, Dr Deborah Fromm will spend nine months working with Professor Gareth Jones in the Department of Geography and Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). During this project, she will publish her PhD research findings on the role of the insurance sector in the governance of urban order and in the processes of financialisation of urban security in Brazil, as well as new forms of commodified policing emerging in the borders between legal and illegal markets for the sale of protection. Her work contributes to the gap between Urban Studies and Security Studies and to reframe the problem of violence in Latin America from poverty to market disputes over the accumulation of wealth.

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