Marta-Laura Suska

Marta-Laura Suska

Assistant Professor
Room number and address: 


PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2018, Cultural Anthropology)

Dissertation: Global Uniformities versus Local Complexities: An Ethnography of two Policing Programs in Brazil.

M.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison (2013, Cultural Anthropology)

MPHil, University of Oxford, UK (2011, Latin American Studies)

Thesis: The Surprising Success of the Pacification Police Units in Rio de Janeiro.

B.A., University of Witten/ Herdecke, Germany (2009 Philosophy and Culture)





Marta-Laura Suska is Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department with teaching in Cultural Anthropology. She was born in Warsaw, Poland but was raised in Greece, Germany, and Brazil. She was trained in Latin American Studies at the University of Oxford where she studied an innovative policing program called "Pacification" in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She proceeded to earn a second Master degree and a PhD in Cultural Anthropology in Madison, Wisconsin. Dr. Suska's work has dealt with urban violence and policing in Brazil, poverty and inequality, art as a social movement, ethnographic methods, and race and gender.

Dr. Suska has consulted for the secretary of urban security in Recife, Brazil. Over the years, Dr. Suska has also worked with non-profit organizations devoted to social justice issues, such as the Madison Public Library's Making Justice Program working with court-involved youth; the Brazilian Think Tank Igarapé Institute, the BRICS Policy Center and Center for Digital Inclusion in Rio de Janeiro, and the Goethe Institute in São Paulo.

Professional Memberships

Latin American Studies Association;
American Anthropological Association;
John Jay College Faculty Senate;
John Jay College Council

Course Taught

Current courses: ANT230 Culture & Crime; ANT325 Ethnographic Research Methods

Previous courses: ANT 100, Ethnography of Youth and Justice in New York City

Languages spoken/fluent in

German, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish

Scholarly Work

Suska, Marta-Laura, Foreword to The Beyond Words Anthology 2: Madison Uncut. D.D. Armstrong editor, Smash and Grab Books Press UK, 2018


Suska, Marta-Laura, Favela, The FRINGE Series: Social and Cultural Complexity; The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality: Towards Understanding of Social and Cultural Complexity, University College London Press, 2017


Suska, Marta-Laura, Recommendations for two violence-reducing policing programs in Brazil: The Pacification Police Unit in Rio de Janeiro and the Pact for Life in Recife. (also available in Portuguese), BRICS Policy Center, Rio de Janeiro, 2015

Research Summary

Marta-Laura Suska is a cultural anthropologist and brazilianist interested in policing, urban violence, race, inequality, and social justice. Her Ph.D. work was an ethnographic study of two public security programs based on field research conducted periodically over six years in Brazil. She shadowed military police units and homicide task force, policymakers, and lived in favela communities in Rio de Janeiro and Recife to explore the concept of "democratic policing". Dr. Suska's research critically interrogtes the concept of "soft" governance and how it is understood and shaped by everyday experiences of favela residents and police officers on the ground. Dr. Suska's research was funded by the Social Science Research Council and Open Society Foundation Drugs, Security and Democracy Fellowship, the UW-Madison Graduate School, Andrew Mellon Public Humanities Fellowship, Tinker & Nave, and Scott Kloeck Jenson Foundation.

Currently, she is working on a book project and several articles based on her doctoral research.


Area of Expertise

Most requested topics by media

Criminal Justice / Crime Prevention & Reduction
Gangs & Social Order
Human Rights
Juvenile Justice
Law Enforcement / Policing / Police-Community Relations
Organized Crime
Racial & Social Justice
Urban Development & Gentrification
Women / Gender Justice
In The Media


March 30, 2018, CNN BEME News, Lou Foglia, Brazil, Corruption, and the Franco Assassination




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