The Global History of the Mexican Police Project

Principal Investigator: Dr. Carlos A. Pérez Ricart


Funding by: John Fell Fund OUP Research Fund (First stage: 2019)


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How did police practices and police organisation models travel to Mexico in the 19th and 20th century? How did they change as they passed through space and time? These are the main questions of a research project which aims to examine the history of the Mexican police from a long-term historical and global perspective. The project will draw on an interdisciplinary approach, working with insights from global history, international relations, criminology and historical sociology.

          The aim of this project is to reconstruct the history of the Mexican police beyond a typical methodological ‘nationalist’ approach. That is, the temptation to conceptualize all social phenomena around the boundaries of the nation state. Hence, the decision to position this study as a ‘connected history’ project in which the articulations between local and external forces will be highlighted.

Such a study will contribute to the following fields: 1) the history of the police beyond the U.S.-European experience, as well as beyond a traditional policy transfer perspective; 2) the emerging but still meagre bibliography focused on the history of Mexican coercive forces; 3) the vibrant scholarship on the process of state building in Mexico which has not yet recognised the advantages of having police forces as a subject of study.

On the first stage (2019), the Principal Investigator will undertake arhival research in local judicial archive repositories in five Mexican cities (Mexico City, Guadalajara, Tijuana, Puebla, Mazatlán), in 3 locations of the National Archives and Records Administration in the U.S. (Riverside, Maryland, Washington D.C.), as well as in the Foreign Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office records.

          This project aims to develop a broader and original research project on the global history of the Mexican Police at the Faculty of History and the Latin American Centre (LAC). The project will help to improve the profile of Latin America in the History Faculty’s programme and will strengthen the links with the LAC. In addition, the focus on the transfer and circulation of police practices and police organizational models will add a new perspective to the Oxford Centre for Global History, one of the leading research centres at the Faculty of History.

Research objectives:

1) To understand the historical trajectory of the Mexican police from a long term global and interdisciplinary perspective.

2) In this first stage, to identify archive material and oral sources enabling the applicant to undertake further research on the history of the Mexican police.

Proposed outcomes:

1) Design and submit an Early Career Research Grant to the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

2) Identify future collaborative projects with colleagues in Mexico, the US, Europe and the UK.


For inquiries about this project, please contact Dr. Carlos A. Pérez Ricart at