Assembling prevention: Technology, expertise and control in postwar Guatemala

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This article examines the technopolitics of prevention in postwar Guatemala. In the 2010s, experts and policymakers shifted security governance in Central America’s most populous country towards anticipation. Against the background of rising gang violence, they implemented a set of sociopolitical and techno-material measures – based on the latest crime-control technologies, new policing strategies and urban design methods – in Guatemala’s most violent municipalities. The stated goals were to reconstruct state sovereignty and to improve public security by strengthening community resilience and inducing positive behavioural change in ‘at-risk’ citizens. Zooming in on the case of Villa Nueva, the article examines the emergence and effects of Guatemala’s ‘prevention assemblage’. It demonstrates that this technopolitical project has failed, as prevention turned into a new layer of control that shifted responsibility to local communities, further securitized urban spaces and populations, and reproduced exclusionary and repressive security governance.




Hochmüller, M. (2023). Assembling prevention: Technology, expertise and control in postwar Guatemala. Security Dialogue, 54(1), 54–75.

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