Symbolic Archeology of the Brazilian Military Police

Probing the reproduction of institutional models

What secrets are hidden in the symbolism used by the Brazilian state police?

Part of the tesis “The Nature of the Military Police: History and Ecology” (DE LIMA, 2017)
[Link – in portuguese]


“At one point I came to the intuition that collective positions such as those of the Brazilian Military Police, compelling their members to a gradual planning of mental attitudes and behavioral actions, so strong, irresolute and clearly obstinate, need a support of hidden contents of lots of power”.


As a voice, probably Jung’s or Gilbert Durand’s, I heard the guidance: investigate the symbolic artifacts.”

Inspiration in the archaeological attempt of Foucault

In “The Archaeology of Knowledge”, Michel Foucault did an archeology, in which the artifacts are the speeches, amid the medical and inquisitorial accounts of the Church and jurisdictional and political authorities.

We propose an archeology of symbols, start with the visible artifacts of organizational culture so that in an exercise of hermeneutics we can see how much this reflects historically inherited institutional patterns and how much it is articulating the organization at its most subtle level.


The connections of the imaginary versus the historical institutional line

This imaginary course, deals with the direct link between the practices currently developed by the military police and the symbolic representations it displays. Such representations lead to regent mental images.

According to our systematization of Organizational Mental Ecology, these images are referenced from compound schemes that serve as anchoring structures in institutional psychodynamics. It is these anchoring structures, referred to here as mental models that are inherited by cultural reproduction.

The cultural inheritance, which operates on the plane of language, brings with it the numinous symbolic representations, as cultural artifacts, updated and re-signified.

To such symbolic archeology is the exercise of probing these artifacts, in a comparative study, to find similarities, validating the studies of the historical reproduction line.
And what do we find in the symbolic-imaginary universe of the Brazilian state police?
At first we find three matrices of institutional inheritance and we perceive a strong confluence between them. Below is a brief description of each of them and an illustration with the visual-imagery connections from which the deepest connection is inferred.

1) Possible bases of the cohesion force of the confraternity of warriors, especially in the Mithraic-Roman inheritance.

2) The influence of the military police of the US Army in the formation of the Brazilian Military Police, preliminarily pointed out by the reproduction of emblems pesculiares.

3) The effects of the negative entropy of the collective mental system of the organizations of use of force, demonstrated by the study of the Corsaire-American inheritance, besides the Jewish-Kabbalistic. Supporting the studies on the Lucifer Effect of Philip Zimbardo.


4)  And a confluence of these matrices, which invoke archetypes associated with gladiators; Roman soldiers; Egyptian, Nordic and Persian mythology; pirates, corsairs, vikings, “bandeirantes” (Portuguese explorers of the Brazilian colonial “far west”), among others.


How do these connections appear in the practice of police-military organizations?


Learn more about Symbolic Archeology

As a methodological tool to know the origins not explicitly revealed of a certain human social institution. It is, therefore, a semiotic analysis with the specific purpose of constructing “genetic” theories of institutions.

Track research project updates on Researchgate: Link

Wagner Soares de Lima
Master in Human Ecology from the State University of Bahia
Specialist in Public Management from the Federal University of Alagoas
Graduated in Administration from the Federal University of Alagoas
Graduated in Public Security from the Military Police Academy of Alagoas

Manager of University Security at the Federal University of Pernambuco
Captain of the Alagoas Military Police Reserve