Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

Workshop: "Violence at the Urban Margins"

Thu, April 4, 2013 | 2nd Floor Conference Room, Benson Latin American Collection, SRH Unit 1

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

This workshop will feature the research of scholars from sociology and anthropology whose ethnographic work offers significant insights into the complex ways in which interpersonal violence is shaping the lives of those living at the urban margins in contemporary North, Central, and South America.

Despite resemblances in theoretical approaches, ethnographic strategies, and substantive findings, scholars working on the United States and in Central and South America rarely engage in meaningful ways with each other’s work. Participation in this event will serve as a unique opportunity to examine the similarities and differences in the causes and experiences of interpersonal violence in inner cities and black ghettos in the United States and in favelas, villas, comunas, colonias, barriadas, or barrios in Central and South America.

In almost every single country of the Latin American subcontinent, there is a palpable contradiction between the persistent and pervasive insecurity and violence that shapes daily life and the peace and equality that, after years of dictatorship and/or civil war, defined democratic promise. This workshop will lend further ethnographic detail to a trend identified by current scholarship on Latin America: urban violence is besieging many of the new democracies in the region, affecting the most disadvantaged populations in disproportionate ways.

Scholarship on violence consistently shows that lack of economic opportunities coupled with geographic isolation fosters environments where criminal activity and interpersonal violence become pervasive. Most Latin American governments are experiencing a “left turn” and are placing the reduction of inequality and the alleviation of poverty at the center of public discourse and policy-making. The novel progressive consensus seems to suggest that citizenship (and democracy) cannot survive without the “social inclusion” of the masses of marginalized individuals that, according to the new dominant diagnosis, were cast aside by decades of neoliberal economic policies. Addressing what both moderate and radical governments in the sub-continent call the “drama of social exclusion” mandates the confrontation of the daily violence that has become a defining feature of the texture of hardship among the urban poor. Without the pacification of everyday life in marginalized communities, “social inclusion” is at risk of becoming an empty panacea. The workshop will bring together sociologists and anthropologists who will put the ethnographic microscope to work to explore the connections between inequality, violence, and democracy.

Participants: Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Philippe Bourgois, Matthew Desmond, Alice Goffman, Dennis Rogers, Randol Contreras, Polly Wilding, Cecilia Bali, Donna De Cesare, Verónica Zubillaga, Kevin O'Neill, Adam Baird, Javier Auyero

For more information, contact Paloma Diaz.

Thursday, April 4


9:30–12:30 SESSION ONE

When the Police are Knocking Your Door In
Alice Goffman, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Discussant: Jessica Dunning-Lozano, Graduate Student, Department of Sociology

Standpoint Purgatorio: Fear and Danger in Studying the "Black and Brown" Tension in Los Angeles
Randol Contreras, California State University, Fullerton
Discussant: Kristine Kilanski, Graduate Student, Department of Sociology

The Soldier and the Thug
Matt Desmond, Harvard University
Discussant: Erika Grajeda, Graduate Student, Department of Sociology

2:00–4:00 SESSION TWO

The Moral Economy of Murder: From "Bare Life" to "Bare Death" in Gangland Nicaragua
Dennis Rodgers, University of Glasglow
Discussant: Pamela Neumann, Graduate Student, Department of Sociology

On Liberation: Crack, Christianity, and Captivity in Guatemala City
Kevin O'Neill, University of Toronto
Discussant: Elizabeth Velasquez, Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology

Friday, April 5

9:30–12:30 SESSION THREE

Non-Judicial Justice? Women's Strategies for Challenging Domestic Violence in Contexts of Chronic Urban Insecurity
Polly Wilding, University of Leeds
Discussant: Katherine Jensen, Graduate Student, Department of Sociology

Duros and Gangland Girlfriends: Male Identity and Gang Socialization in Medellín
Adam Baird, UN University for Peace, San José
Discussant: Jorge Derpic, Graduate STudent, Department of Sociology

Chismosas y alcahuetas: Being the Mother of an emproblemado within the Everyday Violence of a Caracas Barrio
Veronic Zubillaga, Universidad de Simón Bolívar, Caracas
Discussant: Jacinto Cuvi, Graduate Student, Department of Sociology


When Violence Is the Rule—Militarization of Everyday life
Nancy Scheper-Hughes, University of California, Berkeley

Cultivating Rage in the U.S. Inner City: Opening the Black Box of the Carceral-Services Mesh
Philippe Bourgois, University of Pennsylvania

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  • Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

    University of Texas at Austin
    SRH 1.310
    2300 Red River Street D0800
    Austin, Texas 78712