Michael Wolff

Associate Professor


Michael Wolff earned his PhD in Political Science from the University of New Mexico and joined the faculty at WWU in 2016. His research focuses on organized criminal violence and policing in Latin America, and seeks to understand how state policy and behavior shape the development of different types of criminal groups, as well as how organized crime and violence influence politics. Dr. Wolff currently has ongoing research projects in Mexico and Brazil.

Dr. Wolff teaches a range of courses in the subfields of Comparative Politics and International Relations. Special course topics include Civil Wars and Political Violence, Gangs and Organized Crime, Development and Inequality, Politics of Brazil and Mexico, and Comparative Border Studies.

Current Courses

Fall 2023

  • PLSC 291 – Intro to Comparative Politics
  • PLSC 397C – Populism and Democracy in the Americas

Winter 2024

  • PLSC 404 – Gangs, Organized Crime, and the State
  • PLSC 433 – Senior Seminar in Comparative Politics WP3

Spring 2024

  • PLSC 291 – Intro to Comparative Politics
  • PLSC 395 – Politics of Latin America

Selected Publications

"Insurgent Vigilantism and Drug War in Mexico." Journal of Politics in Latin America 12(1) pp. 32-52 (2020). https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1866802X20915477 

“Community Policing the Brazilian Favela.” Network of Research in International Affairs, published online June 14, 2018. http://www.noria-research.com/community-policing-the-brazilian-favela/

“Violence and Criminal Order: The Case of Ciudad Juarez.” Urban Geography, published online April 4, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2018.1459019.

“Competing for Legitimacy: Drug Traffickers and the State in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro and Recife.” Latin American Politics and Society. Vol. 57, No. 2, Summer 2015

“Pacification and Pacts for Life: The Logics of Criminal Violence and Public Security in Brazil,” Policing and Society, Fall 2015.